Ring Around the Phonics

Phonics and Reading Blog



Learning Phonics Rules

Note:  The children need to be proficient and comfortable with phonic sounds and reading before teaching the phonics rules. Otherwise it is like telling a child they must know how to assemble and disassemble a bike before riding…it is too overwhelming.

Phonic Rules

Consonant letters: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, z and often y. Each letter usually stands for one sound.

The letters c and g have two sounds each called hard or soft. Example:

When either c or g is followed by e, i, or y, the sound is usually soft – cent gem. Other wise the sound is hard – can go.

Consonant digraph: two consonant letters that together stand for a single sound different from either consonant sound alone: chop ship phone think

Silent Letter if two letters together represent the sound of only one of them, the other is “silent”: knot, write, ghost, scent.

Vowel Letters: a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y. Each letter stands for more than one sound. One is called a short sound, and the other is called a long sound (hear phonic sounds for free)

When a short word (or a syllable) ends in a consonant the vowel sound is often short: Hat, hen, hit, hot, hut hymn.

When a short word ends with an e, the first vowel is long and the e is silent: cape, Pete, bite, note, tube dye.

Vowel digraph: two vowel letters that together stand for a single sound: (hear phonics blends)

When a word has two vowel letters together, the first vowel is usually long and the second vowel is usually silent: paid, pay, meal, meet, die, boat, toe

The letters ea can also stand for short e as in bread

When a word or syllable has only one vowel and it is at the end, the vowel is usually long: she, go, sky, pi-lot, so-lo

Vowel diphthong: a vowel blend made up of two adjoining vowel sounds:

When a word has the following vowel combinations, these sounds (diphthongs) are the most common:

ai cain au cause ow cow, crow

oo boot, book oy toy aw clawPhonics Rules

ou loud, soup ew knew ei eight

Vowel followed by r: When a vowel is followed by r, the vowel is different from either the long or the short vowel
ar car, or corn

These have the same sound:
ir bird, ur burn, er fern

Plural: more than one – cats, glasses

Inflectional endings: s, es, ed and ing are added to base words to indicate number or tense.

play: plays, played, playing

When you add ed or ing to a base word that ends in e, drop the e first:

wave: waved, waving

Compound word: two or more words joined together to make a new word.

sidewalk, outside raindrop

Contraction: two words written as one. An apostrophe replaces the missing letter(s)

can’t for cannot I’ll for I will

More Phonics Rules:

Syllable: a word or part of a word pronounced as a unit. Each syllable contains one vowel sound.

to-ma-to ref-er-ee

Synonyms: words that have the same, or almost the same meaning.

boat, ship jar, bottle over, above

Antonyms: words whose meanings are opposite, or almost opposite.

good, bad up, down thin, thick

Homonyms: words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings.

here, hear hare, hair to, too, two

Base word or root word: a word without prefixes, suffixes or inflectional endings.

Note: Learning root words can be even more helpful than learning the phonics rules.  It can help with reading and spelling.  Many words are made up of a root (or base word) and a prefix. Some words also have a suffix. For example, the root word port means to carry or to bear. Attach the prefix ex, meaning out or out of, and you have the word export, to carry out. Attach the prefix im, meaning in or into and you have import, to carry in. Attach the prefix trans, meaning across, and you have transport, meaning to carry across. Now let’s attach the suffix able, meaning able to be, and you have importable, exportable, and transportable. Thus an excellent way to teach spelling, especially to the dyslexic, is to teach root words first, and then add prefixes and suffixes. Ring Around The Phonics is used to teach spelling.

prefix: a word part that can be added to the beginning of a word to form a new word with a different meaning.
resell unhappy disappear

suffix: a word part that can be added to the end of a word to form a new word with a different meaning.

tasteless sharpen joyful

Schwa: the vowel sound heard in unstressed syllables, sometimes called a “mummy vowel”.
away gallop circus

If Your Child Is Having Trouble Reading, But Knows Their Phonic Sounds

Today way too many children know their phonic sounds, but have trouble reading, struggle as slow readers, difficulty blending the phonic sounds to form words, and/or poor spellers. There can be many reasons that can cause children to have trouble with reading and spelling,  such as hearing problems, and vision problems. However, as a tutor, I have found the most common cause is as follows:

Computer games teach several of the following phonic sounds incorrectly: B, C, D, G, H, J, K, (occasionally M), P, T, W. Computers add an u sound at the end of many of these letters to make them more audible to the listener. We do not say Hu-a-Pu-Y for happy, nor do we say Du-a-du-y for daddy. Think about how difficult it is to hear happy when pronouncing it as hu-a-pu-y. Most of the struggling readers I have helped were pronouncing one or more of these sounds incorrectly.

trouble reading For one child, it was simply the letter w. Because she was having trouble sounding out words with w in them, she concluded that something was wrong with her. It became a self-fulfilling prophesy. She freaked out every time she was asked to read from her early reader books… proclaiming, ” I can’t”. By using the game “Ring Around The Phonics, I re-taught her the correct way to say the sound of the W, and also used the board to help her blend the sounds. Because games are [whole brain teaching]), stress was reduced, and she quickly learned.

However at first, the books still stopped her in her stacks. She still had trouble reading from books even though she could read any word placed on the board game. So once I was sure she knew the phonic sounds, and could read words placed on the board, we stopped playing the game and did as follows:

When she came to a word in the book that stressed her, I simply placed that same word on the board using the static cling letter cards provided. She could read it on the board, but not the book. So I kept pointing to the word on the board, and then to the same word in the book. I repeated this process until she finally realized she could read! She went from failing to top reader, and the teacher even said it improved her spelling. [(Click Here To See The Teacher’s Review)]

So don’t underestimate the problems that phonic sounds learned incorrectly can cause. It does not effect all children.  So if they have learned the phonic sounds incorrectly, and are not having trouble reading, don’t fix it. But for many children, it is important to get the basics right. Therefore we recommend you, the educator (not an electronic device), teach the phonic sounds so that you are sure they are learning the basics correctly. Click Here To Hear The Phonic Sounds (video format for adults). And remember that we are always here for you. Feel free to contact us.



Phonics Reading Games Can Improve Brain Health, And Ability To Learn?

Studies show that whole brain teaching (example: our phonics reading game)  improves brain health, and the ability to learn.  Yet, many schools are still not using this simple method. Many educators now understand that each person prefers different learning (and teaching) styles.  However learning styles are not written in stone.  One can actually strengthen the less dominant learning (and teaching) styles. Why is this important?

According to the latest brain research: Learning is as natural as breathing, and it is possible to either weaken or strengthen a child’s natural desire and ability to learn in different life situations.

Researchers, using brain-imaging technologies, have been able to find the key areas of the brain responsible for each learning style.  For example:

1.  Visual/ spatial learners prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding. This style develops the occipital lobes at the back of the brain. Both the occipital and parietal lobes manage spatial orientation.
2.  Aural learners (auditory – musical) prefer using sound and music. They have developed the temporal portion of the brain.  The right temporal lobe is especially important for music.
3.  Verbal learners prefer using words, both in speech and writing. This learning style is managed within the temporal and frontal lobes, especially two areas called the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas (in the left hemisphere of the temporal and frontal lobes.)
4.  Physical (Kinesthetic) learners prefer using  their body (hands and the sense of touch). These children have a well-developed cerebellum and motor cortex which is at the back of the frontal lobe.
5.  Logical learners prefer logic reasoning and systems.  Studies show that these children have well-developed parietal lobes, especially on the left side of the brain.
6.  Social learners prefer learning in groups, or with other people. These children have developed the temporal lobes.
7.  Solitary learners prefer working alone, and using self-study.  The frontal and parietal lobes, and the limbic system are very active with this style.

Important Studies On The Frontal Lobe

The frontal lobes play a very important role in regulating our emotional sates and judgments. It is the critical thinker…. the part of the brain that thinks about the consequences of an action, and it is not fully developed until the mid 20s. Children who are hindered in developing this part of the brain can exhibit serious emotional problems.

It was once believed that if you encouraged a person to express their angry emotions, it would “get it out / process it”. However a 15 year study of prisoners commissioned by the government, revealed that if you got an angry prisoner to express his anger, he became angrier. It also revealed that if you educated him, you got an educated criminal….he did not rip you off with a gun anymore, he ripped you of with a computer.

So what did work? Developing the frontal lobe worked.  How? It was discovered that even though we all have some degree of false ideas, criminals have more.  For example: criminals (like many children) responded, “Well everyone is doing it”. The response from the psychologist was, “Well it depends on who your friends are.  Mine aren’t doing those things.”  In other words, to develop the critical thinking (frontal lobe) is simply to replace a dysfunctional idea, with a functional one (“As A Man Thinketh”).  A healthy frontal lobe helps one to override the execution of automatic behaviors, and of potentially destructive illegal or immoral behaviors that are sparked by emotional biases

While it is highly important to provide plenty of opportunity to reach each child through their preferred learning style, it is equally important to exercise the whole brain…use it or lose it. Research shows that by involving more of the brain during the learning process, children remember and retain more of what they learn. According to Dr. Amen, whole brain teaching even improves the health of the brain (use it, or lose it).


SPECT Scan Of A Healthy Brain





SPECT Scan Of Unhealthy Brain

(Source  http://www.amenclinics.com/ )
(To see a picture of the brain showing the different parts, and to learn more about their functions:   http://www.webmd.com/brain/picture-of-the-brain )

The public school system uses mainly the “conventional method” of teaching:  workbooks, lectures, flash cards, reading and multiple choice — sit down a desk type work.  Not only does this not improve the health of the different parts of the brain, but it is a disaster for some children. For example:  Very bright “hands on learners” (38 % of the population) are often labeled as slow learners, problem children, ADHD, or called dumb by their class mates simply because the conventional method does not work for them. As a result, they often become convinced that “something is wrong with them“. However give these children a hands experience (like our phonics reading game), and they shine.

Applications For Whole Brain Health And Development

So it has become evident that it is important not to just develop parts of the brain, but to develop the whole brain. Studies show that with whole brain teaching (involving as many of the senses as possible), children learn faster, retain more, dropout rates decrease by 90%, and the health of the brain is improved.

1.  Emotions simply exist; we don’t learn them in the same way we learn telephone numbers, and we can’t easily change them.  But we should not ignore them.  Children can learn how and when to use rational processes to override their negative emotions, or to hold them in check by developing the frontal lobe area of the brain…learning that there are consequences to one’s actions.  This part of the brain is almost totally ignored in today’s classroom setting.

2.  Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.
Emotionally stressful environments (for the educator and the student) are counterproductive because they can reduce children’s ability to learn. http://www.mayoclinic.org/stress/art-20046037

3.  Learning is influenced by the natural development of the body and brain.  According to brain research for example, there can be a five-year difference in maturation between any two “average” children.  Gauging achievement on the basis of chronological age is therefore inappropriate, and counterproductive.

4.  The brain understands and remembers best when facts and skills are embedded in natural spatial memory, we remember what we experience.  This principle can be applied to every subject through games (like our phonics reading game), activities and real life experiences: involving as many of the senses in the learning process as possible.  This is particularly important for the “hands on learner“.  Educators should not exclude lectures and sit down at a desk type work; but they should make them part of a larger experience.

5.  Each brain is unique.  Teaching should be multifaceted in order to attract different interests, and to develop the whole brain. Helping children find their passion is a major part of their future success.

6.  The objective of brain based teaching is to move from memorizing information to experiencing information.

7.  Empower educators to do whatever is in the best interest of each individual child.  One size does not fit all.

Even though these things have been recently learned by way of cognitive science’s brain scans, the method  has been around over 30 years, and known  as “Total Physical Response“.  It has been well known that, with this method, children learn faster, retain more, drop rate decreases by 90%, and the health of the brain is improved.
Source:  http://www.ringaroundthephonics.com/articles.htm#A11  

For a real life example:  “My Journey From Public School Teacher To Homeschooling Mom“:  http://www.read-phonics.com/how-to-teach.html
Ring Around The Phonics is a reading game that physically involves the children as they learn.  To you, the educator, the child is learning.  But to the child, they are having fun.  They literally beg to playPhonics Reading Game That Improves The Health Of The Brain





Reading Phonics Games blog post in Jacksonville, Florida.