What is the most effective way to teach a child how to read? Studies have shown that children need explicit instruction in the essential components of reading: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Of these components, the Science of Reading has uncovered that systematic instruction in how letters represent sounds—phonics—is the most effective way to teach kids how to read. The Science of Reading refers to the body of research that reading experts, over the course of over 20 years, have conducted on how we learn to read. It has debunked older methods of reading instruction that were based on tradition and observation, not evidence. Let's dive a little into what we have learned through this research about systemic phonics instruction.
Learning high frequency words has been a part of reading practice for many decades. High frequency words are the most common words used in the English language, ranked in frequency order. Over 50 percent of all written material is composed of high frequency words, many of which are difficult to contextualize and decode phonetically. High frequency words are often referred to as “sight words”. A high-frequency word becomes a sight word when the word can be read automatically. These words are often selected from the Dolch List or Fry Instant Words List. Children progress through the lists of words in the order that it is presented. Largely, high frequency word instruction is often disconnected from phonics instruction.
This is where the innovation and magic of Eyewords™ comes into play. Eyewords™ is an easy to implement, research-based, whole-brain approach to teaching high-frequency words that has been designed to engage all learners. This approach rapidly builds sight word knowledge using multisensory-contextual cues (visual-contextual picture, auditory phrase and kinesthetic action) along with orthographic mapping of regular and irregular sounds—phonics instruction. One teaching tool that combines both of these elements are the Eyewords™ Multisensory-Orthographic Heart Word Cards. This resource alone can have impactful results in a child’s reading success that we will now explore.
Eyewords™ Multisensory-Orthographic Heart Word Cards are available in physical and digital form. The front of each card employs the whole-brain teaching method. Whole-brain teaching makes the learning process much more energetic and aims to engage every area of a child’s brain. A high frequency word is embedded with visual-contextual images, and a related auditory phrase and corresponding action is provided. These elements create meaning for abstract high-frequency words which are hard to contextualize. In addition, when learning is presented in a way that engages multiple senses, it becomes more exciting and learners become more motivated to actively participate ultimately increasing sight word retention. Moreover, this method builds confidence in reading.
Eyewords™ greatly improves the overall effectiveness of kindergarten and primary literacy programs, as well as has a tremendous benefit to children who struggle to read through systematic phonics alone. Eyewords™ has proven beneficial for: K-2 learners and those with learning exceptionalities such as Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Developmentally Challenged, Speech/Language Delayed, Working Memory Deficits, English Language Learning. Eyewords™ is backed by a published study by Stanford University and supported by the latest research in cognitive neuroscience and linguistics which has validated that for sight word acquisition, this method of combining an embedded picture, contextual phrase, and related action with orthographic mapping is more effective than plain text with phonics instruction alone.
On the back of the Eyewords™ Multisensory-Orthographic Heart Word Cards is an orthographic mapping component. When we add orthographic mapping to multisensory instruction, we take what we already know about a word (meaning and the pronunciation) and connect the individual phonemes (sounds) to the graphemes (letters) that represent the sounds in the word. This is known as sound mapping. As seen in the card below, each dot represents a phoneme (sound) in the word. Next, the goal is to be able to blend those sounds back together, sound blending. If a learner knows the pronunciation and meaning for the word “the” and has good phonemic awareness skills, they can pull the word apart (segment) into its individual sounds (phonemes) /th/ /e/. The child can then push the sounds together (blend) to form the whole word. The arrow serves as a visual aid for the child to blend the word from left to right.
Another effective method embedded into Eyewords™ Multisensory-Orthographic Heart Word Cards is the Heart Word Method produced by reading researcher David Kilpatrick. You will notice a heart in the sound mapping portion of some words, like the word “the.” This is because there are two types of sounds: regularly spelled (marked with a dot) and irregularly spelled (marked with a heart). Irregularly spelled sounds do not follow phonics patterns and need to be explicitly taught. We call words with irregular sounds “heart words.”
You can find a free download in the Eyewords™ library of the Scope and Sequence which lists the regularly (flash word) and irregularly (heart word) spelled words in each of sets #1-3 along with a categorization of words by phonics patterns. A scope and sequence is a roadmap for explicit, systematic literacy instruction. It guides lessons based on a logical skill sequence and scaffolds previously learned skills.
Eyewords™ also offers many other ways for learners to practice high-frequency words such as games and purposeful worksheets. Other free resources available for download to those who create a free account are the Multisensory Syllables Types Posters, Sight Words Order of Frequency, and Multisensory Orthographic Printable Worksheets for TOP 10 HIGH FREQUENCY WORDS.
Eyewords™ is incredibly easy to execute. Simply print the resources, or purchase the physical products and start teaching. Ample instruction is provided and minimal preparation required. Another positive perk is the affordability of these products! It is a great investment to aide in a child's learning. So there it is! The single teaching resource that will transform learning for your child or a child whose education you care about.