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Sound Blending the Next Step

This new vlog has been a while coming. I have been spending time making videos of student lessons for our trainee providers and Term 3 has proved to be very busy with students. Lots of families want to ensure the Covid-19 interruption to school does not adversely impact on their children’s education.

This vlog is a little on the long side as essentially it shows you how to teach a child to sound blend the letters into a word and the texts and games you could use to help. After learning the sounds of the alphabet letters the next step is to blend them into words. While there are many words that have tricky spelling many more words are more regular and can be sounded out. Saying each sound in these words does not always mean a student’s brain can then turn it into a word but by teaching a child to sound blend opens up a whole new world of reading for them.

Sound Blending the Next Step YouTube play


New Reading For Sure Online Shop


Now more help for parents helping their child with learning literacy skills.


Wow what a lot has been happening since my last Vlog. The world has been turned upside down with the Covid virus seriously affecting people’s health and the economies of every country.


I used the time to finally finish learning how to create an online shop so that we could offer you some of our games and books. What a journey this has been. Creating the games etc. was really the easy part because learning how to use the technology involved in website shop building has been a steep learning curve. Just when you think you have one problem solved another one rears its ugly head. Luckily, we were taught resilience and tenacity in my family so giving up was not an option. While the result may not be perfect, it is up and running. There will be time for tweaking and improving as time goes on.

The new shop on our publishing page features books written by the creator of the Reading For Sure program. These contain information about literacy acquisition in the young and some activities and steps you can take to ensure your child has the best start on their learning to be literate journey.

The games will help you have fun with your child while they learn the foundation skills for literacy.


We have the games available for you to download and print yourself which means you can save money. If they get damaged it will be easy to replace them this way too. If making them up yourself is not something you would like to do, we also have them produced and ready to play with as well.

I will gradually add new resources that will help you engage your child with the written word and support their learning in general.

If you have a struggling reader but you are not near one of our specialist tutors then a new package in the pipeline will enable you to use some of our Reading for Sure material at home. It will be available soon. The other alternative is to work with a tutor via skype.

Please check out our online shop and send me an email if there is something you need help with or a problem you are trying to solve with your child’s learning.

Reading For Sure online shop


Keep safe and enjoy your time with your children they grow up so quickly. Mine are now all grown up and it seems like such a short time ago they were playing around the house. I often wonder how those years went by so fast.


Alphabet Letters – Names and sounds

The English language can be so confusing.

We have 26 letters in our alphabet but at least 44 sounds that make up our spoken language. This vlog will help you know the sounds and their connections to the letters.

Letters and Sounds of the Alphabet YouTube play


Get your free download of Letter Cards here

Eye Spy for Literacy

Eye Spy Literach YouTube play

This vlog gives you some information around how you can help your child improve their literacy skills while playing a fun game that can be played anywhere, anytime.

You can watch the vlog or read the text below – note it won’t match the video exactly but has basically the same information in it.  In the vlog I am able to demonstrate things a little better.

Once you have watched the vlog or read it don’t forget to download our freebie Black and White Alphabet Chart that will give you an excellent tool to use with your child learning or consolidating their letter and sound recognition.

Click here for your free black and white alphabet chart to use with your child. Download Now

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Eye Spy  Vlog original script text.

Welcome to my vlog series where I give you some tips and strategies for improving a child’s literacy skills while having fun and quality time with your child.  There has been a bit of a break since my last vlog. Christmas holidays and the start of the new term seemed to have gone by in a flash. Happy New Year to you all. Let’s hope 2020 is amazing.

After many years teaching literacy, I have noticed that many games that once were played a lot seemed to have gone by the wayside in recent years, forgotten, and it is a pity because these were great learning tools and fun to boot.

The topic I wanted to cover today is the use of on old game ‘eye spy’ to help improve literacy.

Eye spy is a game that has been around for so long and is wonderful to play at home or while traveling in the car.  I remember playing it for hours on long country road journeys when I was young – no Ipads or dvd players then.

When children are old enough to spell, we often do the – eye spy with my little eye something starting with ‘t’ etc.  The child looks around and finds the name of something nearby that is spelt starting with the letter ‘t’. When they have solved it they then get to ‘eye spy with my little eye something beginning with…”

But there are younger versions as well.  When a child is learning their colours you can do “eye spy with my little eye something that is ‘blue’ etc. The child looks around nearby to find something that is the colour ‘spied’.

You could also do a version picking out something that makes a particular noise ( eye spy something that makes the noise …) or that does something that you can describe (eye spy something that is long and black …… ) so they have to work out what it is you are giving the clue for.

These are all excellent ways to encourage children how to use the process of elimination to find an answer and general problem solving skills.

When you are encouraging a young child to learn their letter sounds you can play “eye spy with my little eye something that starts with the sound ‘c’(sound not name). Again you encourage them to find an object that, if they listen carefully when they say its name, they will be able to extract the first sound of that name. eg. C – car.

The ability to hear and extract the first sound in a word is a skill that we need to develop and use to help give a child easy access the sounds of the letters.

With an alphabet chart with pictures accompanying each letter in front of them they can name the picture, extract the first sound and know that that is the sound of the letter, speeding up their access to the letters and their use of sounds in a word.

Be careful when you choose an abc chart for this, for example you do not want a picture of an owl for the letter ‘o’. This starts with the sound ‘ow’ and that is not the sound of the letter ‘o’ is. Much better to have a picture of an orange as this word starts with the sound of the letter ‘o’.

Attached to this vlog is a download for free of our Reading for Sure alphabet chart. You are welcome to download this but please for personal use only.

Children need to understand that a letter has a name and a sound and that for reading we use the sound. Playing games is a great way to practice this.

All the family can join in these games either at home or while travelling in the car. It is a fun way to pass the time and the children will learn valuable skills at the same time. When children sit and stare at a screen, they do not even notice the world around them, which shows when it comes to school. Children who are buried in screens watching the same thing over and over again often lack general knowledge. General knowledge enables us to understand what we are reading. Keep your eye on the road and travel safely and enjoy the journey.

Christmas 2019

Christmas is a time for everyone to get together, share family traditions and spend some quality time together. In Australia, as it is summer, we can enjoy lots of outdoor activities.

Watch the following video for our Christmas message and how this time of year can be used to build your child’s learning while having fun.

Reading For Sure Christmas 2019 Vlog YouTube play

Reading To Your Child

Welome to our new video blog. This video talks about the need to read to your child and the other important activities that you could be including.

Make more of an impact on your child’s learning by talking about the story and the new words they are hearing rather than just reading to them.

Discussing and engaging the child in the text is just as important as the reading out loud to them.

Reading To Your Child YouTube play

Developing Listening Skills for Literacy

Phonemic awareness seems like a new buzz word but it is not. Scientific studies have shown that to achieve the highest level of reading and literacy, being able to hear the individual sounds in a word is a must.

The following video is designed to give you some hints and tips to help your child develop these listening skills and encourage them to say the sounds clearly as well.

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Download all of this PDF to help you practise some of the skills demonstrated in the video with your child.

First Steps to Literacy

Are you concerned about how you might help your child get the skills they need for literacy?

This, the first in our series of video blogs, will help.

Watch the Vlog or you can read it below.

There maybe a few extra words in the video. 

First Steps to literacy 1 YouTube play
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Click here for a free download listing activities that you can do with your child. 

Early Literacy Through Play Download.

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This is my first video blog. I have been inspired to begin producing these because of the questions I keep getting from parents. I thought maybe there are others who would like answers to these questions.

Many parents of young children phone me and ask- “What do I have to do to help my child be a good reader?” 

If there under 4 years it is not making them read words. The steps to literacy start way before the actual reading of words. What parents need to do to build the foundation skills for literacy is surprising easy and fun. Play and talk with your child. The more the better. Heard and spoken language build pathways in the brain that are needed for literacy later.

Every moment a parent spends with their child from birth should include spoken language. Sing to your child – they don’t care if you can hold a tune or not, they are comforted by your voice. This also builds attachment which is essential for your child’s overall development.

Build your child’s vocabulary early.  Name the things they are playing with. Don’t just hand them their toy but say “Here is your fluffy teddy” for example. Try and use good language with descriptions as well.  When dressing them “let’s put your hand in the sleeve”. Don’t just quickly shove it in and move on. Every moment is a teaching moment. I am surprised at the number of children, including mid primary aged children, that cannot point to their elbow, wrist or other body part and name them.  These terms are part of basic body awareness.

One of the early games that I played with my children was helping them learn words by naming parts of their body.  This is one of the early games I played with my children “I’m going to tickle your – knee/elbow/toes etc.”  they giggled like mad and loved it.

Another way you can build skills that are needed for literacy and learning is when you are moving round the house doing chores. Include your toddlers as you work through your housework and say exactly what you are doing out loud. Helping with housework has other advantages for your child as it builds coordination and motor planning skills that are essential for handwriting later.  Don’t forget even a baby sitting in a bouncer or doing some tummy time on the floor watching you is soothed by your voice and are learning the sounds in words which is a building block to reading.  

Lots of games and outings which involve you talking together about what you see and are doing increases the child’s spoken vocabulary and their understanding of the world around them. Always name the main things they see. Just because they see it doesn’t mean they will know what the word is when encountered later.  For instance, don’t just say “look at the duck in the water” say ‘Look at the that brown duck on the pond/lake.”  I had a ten-year old that I knew from her travels had seen rivers, lakes, creeks etc. but could not tell what the difference was between these things when we encountered the words in a story. She had seen them but not had them named and pointed out. Encourage their curiosity as curios children love learning so much more.

The understanding of the world around them underpins children’s ability to comprehend what they read later.

Children’s play is when they learn and if you join in, they will learn even more, and you will have a great time together. Believe me before you know it, they are all grown up and are off with their friends.

Reading to your child is a wonderful way of calming them down for sleep and gives you time to quietly enjoy each other’s company. They love hearing the sound of your voice but engage them in the story as well by stopping occasionally and talk about what is happening. They will get so much more out of the reading time this way.

Parents are great teachers and all you have to do is have lots of fun and adventures together – the house cleaning can wait your child’s brain can’t.

Thanks for joining me and I hope you come back for my next video where we will look at listening skills.


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Getting Ready for Literacy

From the moment a child is born and we interact with them we are preparing them for literacy. The more we communicate through spoken language the better we are preparing them for reading and literacy.



A baby loves to hear your voice as it is reassuring for them that you are there. Whenever the child is awake and you are playing with them, feeding them, changing a nappy or bathing them etc. you should be talking to them. Say out loud what you are doing and name the objects and toys around them. A child talked to in this way develops a vocabulary much faster than a child who is tended to silently.



When a child hears words, they are imprinting the sounds of them on their brain and will be able to retrieve these sounds and connect them with the written word.https://img.clipartxtras.com/088239c19b29fc005468207b7787e9da_peter-byrom-hearing-aid-care-my-daughters-hearing-test-was-fun-hearing-test-clipart_1000-720.jpeg



It is important to check a child’s hearing in the early years. We know that a child who has had blocked ears during the first years has a higher likely hood of having trouble with phonemic awareness and the move into reading.



Parents are told to read to their children every day. Reading to your child exposes them to the wonder of books and the written word. They love to sit close with you and listen to your voice.

While this activity is wonderful for bonding with your child there are things that you can do to make the experience an even better one. Always approach the reading with enthusiasm, even when you are tired, as we want to show the child that reading is joyful not just a chore we need to do.



Point to the words on the page, when you can, to show the child that it is the written words that you are saying not a made-up story from the pictures. Talk about the story too, who is doing what and why might they be doing it. Talk about the characters and how they might feel and act. Discuss what might happen next. These additional activities, while reading, will help the child with their comprehension skills and the ability to empathise with or put themselves in the characters shoes. Your child will get more out of the story and will acquire strong literacy skills even before they start to actually read the words.


Share the joy of words with your children and grandchildren and they will progress in their literacy skills easier and have lots of fun.


Thank you to the wonderful photographers on pixabay.com for some of these images.

It’s The Messy Things.

I am reposting this after I removed it a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was the cause of a lot of spam comments but it seems I am just being spammed full stop. I will just have to keep deleting the spam comments – many of them trying to spread viruses or very unsavoury sites.

It’s the messy things.

When I think back to when my children were young, eldest is 32, I wonder how did I prepare them for school and literacy? It was the messy things. It is the messy things that give children the cognitive and physical things they need to perform well at school.


My children had blocks and toys, dress ups, old bits and pieces everywhere and they were busy all day, a basket in each area was quickly filled at the end of the day to tidy up. There was a backyard with a sandpit to play in and water tub to play in when the weather was fine. More mess inside from the sand on shoes. I had lots of paper, pencils, crayons, paint and scissors for them to play with. What a mess! But I knew they were happy and that they were learning.


We went to playgroup where they got to play with other children and do more art and craft activities. Our house had glitter everywhere for years that came off their art projects, more mess! We met other parents at the park for play and parent get togethers, we brought our own coffee and food as no one thought of making a child sit still in a cafe back then and who could afford it anyway.  The children ran around, got tired out and the parents got to share stories and support each other. Messy clothes were thrown in the wash when we got home.


None of our houses looked like magazine pictures but our children went to kindy able to hold a pencil or a paintbrush, use scissors, could talk fluently and follow a teacher’s instructions, take themselves to the toilet, many could tie their shoes and share toys with the other children.  These children used what they learnt while making a mess to excel at school because play is where the child has an opportunity to develop the appropriate pathways in the brain. These pathways lay the foundation for future learning.


If you would like your child to do well at school and beyond then encourage them to explore, be physical, create and make a mess. A mess can be cleaned up but undeveloped brains can lead to unhappy children growing into unhappy adults.


Using modern technology builds very few basic skills and remember those that created the computer technology had never even seen one before. It was their no technology experiences that gave them the brain power to create this exciting technology.

Have fun. Remember children wash easily but brains do not develop correctly without good experiences.