Spotlight on... Letterland Fix-it Phonics Starter Level
Letterland Fix-it Phonics Starter Level introduces the very first skills in language learning. Using this programme, we provide you with a great foundation in attentive listening skills, a confidence in making sounds and an introduction to basic English vocabulary.
We understand that sometimes the best way to learn about a new range is to test it out, so here's a sample lesson for you to try before you buy!
Please note that this range is designed to be used to teach English as a second language.
2 colourful Activity Books with 12 topic based units and step-by-step daily activities
32 page Teacher's Booklet full of teaching tips and guidance
2 Audio CDs with pronunciation support, 16 new songs and 26 chants
Software with games and animated songs to join in with
Resource Pack containing board games, flashcards and activities to bring learning to life.
The How and Why
By Lesley White, Letterland's Director of Training
We sometimes get teachers asking us ‘How do I use the Fix-it Phonics Starter resources?’
‘How’ is simple – just follow the instructions in the Activity Books. There are systematic ideas and suggestions which you work through at a pace to suit the children involved. Children of 2-3 years of age can’t read the instructions ad may have ideas of their own, so they learn through exposure to sounds and exploring the activities together.
‘Why’ is more complex but it is worth understanding.
We know that people want their children to start learning English as soon as possible. But when children are only 2-3 years old, they don’t understand that print conveys a message and the letters form words. They don’t have the fine motor control required to hold a pencil to create the letter shapes. Letterland Level 1 material and many of the programmes on the market are just not suitable for these very young learners.
The Letterland Starter Level offers an excellent oral approach to help children as they start to develop their pre-reading and pre-writing skills!
The Starter material is more reminiscent of how a native language is learnt. Children are mimics and learn by copying, so the Starter Level was created to build on this type of learning approach.
It is an oral introduction to English that helps children develop their speaking and listening skills and gain confidence in communicating. Within the programme, toddlers are introduced to the 7 aspects of sound that Letters and Sounds (UK Government’s Department of Education) suggests are essential for the early acquisition of language.
Circle time encourages them to become familiar with basic introductory language: e.g. my name is Amy; I am 4 years old; I like the colour blue; I like dogs. That means, when they then move on and are introduced to the Letterland characters saying, for example, ‘my name is Annie Apple’, they have some context for this phrase.
Listening to the sounds that they hear around them helps their ear to distinguish differences and improves listening skills.
Using the simplified songs and chants provides an excellent start for young children who have little or no knowledge of English and who, therefore, find some traditional nursery rhymes too ‘wordy’.
Children are exposed to the sound and rhythm of English. Clapping as they listen to words like ‘dog’ or ‘rat’ will eventually help them identify syllables: e.g. rat - 1 clap; tiger - 2 claps.
Spotting the difference in an image is part of a pre-reading skill that all children need to develop. Eventually they will see that an ‘a’ has a line down while an ‘o’ is just a circle, and they will spot the difference between ‘hat’ and ‘hot’ - this skill starts with spotting the odd one out.
They need to understand that sequence is important. ‘Act’ is very different from ‘cat’ – so, again, ordering items is another important skill that is encouraged in the Starter material. These sequencing activities also give children hints that in English we read from the left to the right.
All these and many of the other pre-reading & writing skills are normally part of a pre-school teacher’s repertoire but perhaps not introduced with such a systematic approach - and many don’t register why they are introducing these activities!
By the end of the Starter material, the phonic sounds are introduced using a multi-sensory approach. VAK is at the heart of all good early years teaching and that’s approach that Letterland use throughout the Starter Level. It concentrates on the oral skill development but begins to develop the fine motor control necessary to be able to continue to the rest of the programme.
The Starter Level provides a strong foundation and, as with the rest of Letterland’s teaching, introduces the tools that they will continue to develop and polish as they grow and learn to read, write and spell with fluency and accuracy.
Or if you'd like to hear more from Lesley White, check out her interview with The Letterland Blog.