I was first introduced to the idea of teaching phonics when I brought MF for a trial class at Growing Up Gifted when he was about a year old. However, phonics classes for babies and toddlers were extremely expensive, so I kept a look out for ways I could teach it myself at home. Over the past 3 years, I tapped into various resources from NLB and YouTube to teach Phonics at home for free to MF and also picked up the method that his school used. Now I’m repeating some of the methods with MY and I want to share with you those that I have found most effective and engaging for my kids.
#1 Jolly Phonics
This was the method that MF’s school used. There was a song to sing for each letter which used tunes we were familiar to, accompanied by actions. MF would come home from school singing these songs with the actions (See? This is why I think MF’s teachers deserve a pay raise) and they were so catchy that MY (who was only 1 year old then) started to learn from his older brother. So before he even knew his ABCs, MY was already babbling phonics in an attempt to sing along with MF (and following the actions), that was how effective it was!
You can learn all the songs from the video below and there is also a description of the action that should be done for each letter within the video.
Once the kids have finished learning all the 26 letters’ sounds, you can move on to blending.
#2 Dr Seuss’s ABC
Dr Seuss’s ABC is a book that has been around for ages (according to Wiki, it was first published in 1963). I borrowed a copy from NLB when MF was very young and it turned out to be a real gem, explaining its undying popularity for 50 years. It was one of the few books that MF really enjoyed me reading to him. (Well, MF was a boy who would very much rather be climbing around indoor playgrounds than to be sitting down for story-telling.)
The book contains a poem for each letter:
If you watch the video below, you will be able to get a preview of the whole book. However, you may realize from the video that this book actually has nothing to do with phonics (I don’t think phonics was a fad in 1963). It is purely meant to introduce the 26 letters.
But hey, improvising is what I do best. MF has never seen that video anyway, so when I borrowed the book and read it to him, I read the phonics of the letter instead of the name of the letter for the last line of each poem. Even if there wasn’t a line, I added it in. e.g. if you refer to the sample page above for letter ‘B’, I would read:
Big B, Little b, what begins with B?
Barber, baby, bubbles and a bumblebee.
b – b – b (phonics)
After reading the book enough times, I eventually memorized the whole thing and was able to continue reciting it to MF even after returning the book to the library.
This book is very popular, so do check NLB’s catalogue for availability.
(PS: I recently spotted a copy of this book at Hokey Pokey indoor playground at Seletar Mall so you can check it out if you are going there.)
#3 Leap Frog’s Letter Factory
Many fellow mummies have told me that Leap Frog’s Letter Factory DVD was THE most effective way to get kids to learn phonics. Since there was a National Library a stone’s throw from my home, I stalked it and managed to get my hands on a copy to try out (it is quite hard to get your hands on one, do a search on NLB’s online catalouge to see which branch has an available copy).
You can watch a snippet of it on YouTube:
MF loved it SO much that I eventually bought a copy of the DVD. He watched it like a gazillion times and effectively memorized the whole show, thus memorizing all 26 letters and their phonics. Mission accomplished.
After your kid has memorized the whole Letter Factory, you can follow-up with Talking Words Factory and Talking Words Factory 2 Word Caper that teach the kids what happens when the letters come together to form words. All the DVDs in the series have extremely catchy songs that the kids will pick up in no time.
Snippet of Talking Words Factory:
Snippet of Talking Words Factory 2 Word Caper:
#4 Phonics Song 2 on YouTube
There are tons of phonics songs on YouTube that you can play for your kids to help them pick up phonics, but my kids’ absolute favourite was Phonics Song 2.
Somehow both my boys just LOVED this song and didn’t mind listening to it over and over again. MF listened to it so much when he was young that both hubby and I could memorize it and sing it to him everywhere we went!
#5 Oxford Owl Library
Oxford Owl Library has a huge collection of FREE e-Books. You can browse through their library by Book Type, and there is a category called ‘Phonics’.
The books that have a logo ‘e’ at the bottom right hand corner are free e-book.
The e-Book have AUDIO and some even have activities to reinforce learning!
The books on Oxford Owl were not so much on teaching basic Phonics to children. They serve more to reinforce the learning of Phonics through reading and activities.
So feel free to teach Phonics at home for FREE (if you can get your hands on the book / DVDs from NLB that is). Let me know if they work on your kids!