Children who experience success in learning to read are well-positioned for success in school, and success in life. Virtually every parent, grandparent, teacher, and caregiver understands why it is important to help children learn the ABC’s. Yet few of these early childhood educators understand the importance of phonemic awareness, which is an even more powerful predictor of early literacy success.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to play with the sounds in spoken language. Important skills include
can be blended together to form"CAT"
can be seperated into
without the /s/ is
When the /e/ in "net"
is changed to /o/ it becomes a"KNOT"
Phonemic awareness is often confused with phonics, which is a teaching method that associates sounds with letter symbols. Unlike phonics, phonemic awareness does NOT involve letters. Many popular preschool programs, such as Sesame Street, Alphablocks, and Super Why teach phonics, but none are known to focus exclusively on phonemic awareness, which is the crucial underlying skill that enables children to access phonics as an effective reading strategy.
Educational researchers have long understood that phonemic blending skills are needed to identify words when reading, and that segmenting skills are needed to spell words. Recent research has discovered that phoneme deletion and manipulation skills are also critical to reading success. Without these advanced skills, children are unable to develop into efficient and fluent readers. It is estimated that over 85% of students with reading difficulties struggle primarily because of under-developed phonemic awareness skills. Alternately, if children enter 1st grade with these skills well-established, their brains are primed for literacy learning and they are far more likely to experience both early and long-term success in learning to read.
Just because phonemic awareness is critically important, doesn’t mean that instruction has to be boring or drill-like. In fact, researchers suggest that phonemic awareness is best taught in a playful way.
As literacy experts and former preschool/kindergarten teachers, we understand that young children learn best when they are having fun. By interacting with Sounder & Friends™, preschool- and kindergartenaged children will delight in the silly and unexpected transformations that Sound Snatcher causes when he snatches or switches a sound. Children will develop phonemic awareness skills as they explore the soundscape with the friends, searching for missing sounds, and blending sounds back together to restore order. The visually appealing episodes draw children’s attention to the magic of spoken language and the power of a single phoneme.
In addition to developing important skills through direct viewership, learning can be extended into the real world when children and their caregivers play a series of simple games that the Sounder & Friends™ characters model. These easy games require no materials or preparation and can be played anywhere: in the car, on a walk, at the grocery store, or just sitting at the kitchen table.
In the world of Sounder & Friends™, all children are respected, valued, and included. The show promotes diversity, inclusiveness, teamwork and cooperation, friendship and caring, curiosity, problem-solving, learning empowerment.
We believe that ALL children are capable of learning and have the right to read. We hope that you will join Sounder & Friends™ in Teaching Reading Right, Right From The Start!™
Every object that appears in an episode of Sounder & Friends™ has a specific purpose.
Episode locations are peppered with objects that are carefully chosen to promote learning. These objects are:
Authentic to each setting, helping friends at home build background knowledge about locations that they may might not visit in person.
Easily recognizable and likely familiar to friends at home. When children are already familiar with words, they are more likely to extend their learning into the real world by playing with the sounds in those words after the episode is over.
Developmentally appropriate for the target audience. Not all words are created equal! Some words - such as those with more than one syllable - are not appropriate for certain phonemic awareness tasks. Other words contain sound combinations that can be tricky for children to hear and/or pronounce. These sounds may require additional instruction that is best provided in a classroom setting.
When Sounder & Friends™ encounter an object that will be segmented, the object is depicted in the same number of colors as there are sounds in the corresponding word. For example, the sounds in the word, “whale,” are each spelled with a different color.
The visually distinct colors assigned to each sound within an episode cue children to listen for a different sound whenever they see a different color!