As a teacher, I’m very critical of typical teaching tools for beginning reading. Want to hear my gripes? Well, you’re going to anyway.
1. Too often, capital letters are over-emphasized and lower-case aren’t introduced until much later. Think about it: How often do we use capital in comparison to lower case letters?
2. Kids somehow think that, for instance, “b” says “buh” and “s” says “suh.” This is, in my opinion, the result of the efforts of well-meaning parents (whom I forgive) and/or ignorant teachers (jury is out). Consonants don’t have vowel sounds attached to them (except barely audible, unintentional ones that happen when you try to say the consonant sound loudly.
3. Don’t even get me started on alphabet cards that have illustrations that supposedly represent the sounds of the letters.
a. I’m sorry, but “q” does not speak in English without a “u”, so it should always appear as “qu.”
b. X does not say “ex” (as it does when you say “x-ray”). It is also rare for it to say “z” as is xylophone, the darling choice to (falsely) represent the letter sound. Until you learn words like “xenophobia” and “xylem” you will see x most often at the end of a word (or syllable) and it says “ks.”
c. I don’t think the word “egg” is a good choice for teaching kids a short e sound. Depending on where you’re from, it is sometimes pronounced “aig.” Elephant is another terrible option. The short e sound gets swallowed up by the L that follows. (Yes, I show an elephant on my E card, but his name is Ed! A d knows how to let short e speak!)
d. I need to stop this rant, but I just saw an image of the most egregious ABC chart ever. It has ALL the flaws mentioned above, PLUS uses earth for E (r completely takes over the vowel sound), giraffe for G (thus teaching the less common sound of the letter first), ice cream for the letter i (stick with short vowel sounds, please), and, worst of all, truck for T. Again with the R! It intrudes and confuses the pure T sound. Unless a young kid has the word “truck” in her visual memory bank, the T in tr will be spelled as ch. (Just say “truck” and hear it for yourself.) Which reminds me,
e. Most charts don’t include the digraphs (ch, sh, th, wh) and there’s no good reason not to throw them in while you’re at it, especially for ages 4 and up. Yeah, it would looks weird on ABC block wallpaper in a baby’s room, but digraphs appear commonly and kids can learn them.
So, here are some perfect alphabet cards. I had a great time making them. They have only lower-case letters (in the first two sets), which are shown in relation to the line on which they sit, so for instance b sits on the line, but g’s tail is below the line. They have copyright-free drawings, many of which are animals. They include the consonant digraphs. And, like all the cards I make, they have a little dotted line in the upper right-hand corner so you can snip it off and voilà -- the cards will always be right side up when you align the cut-off corners!
[By the way, that’s not a violin on the V card. It’s a viola.]
Three sets of cards - with pictures, without pictures and capital letters (for matching up with lower case).
Black and white -- if you like color, then color them!
Susan, Morris Tutoring Productions