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Maths Phonics

The Top Three Questions on Blends and Digraphs

I’m sure you’ll agree that teaching English is not as straightforward as we think. Reading is an acquired skill and it takes systematic strategies, multisensory resources and regular practice to develop fluency. Phonics is a powerful tool to teach Reading systemically and within Phonics instruction, one cannot exclude Blends and Digraphs as an important component for building phonetic vocabulary. 

Our experts at Kutuki recommend that before you teach blends and digraphs, ensure that your child can clearly distinguish between sounds of different vowels and consonants. Read on to find out!

Q1)What is the difference between a Blend and a Digraph? 

One of the most frequently occurring questions is the difference between a Blend and a Digraph. It is highly important for you to know the difference between these two terms. A blend is when two consonants come together and each of them retains its individual sound. In simple words, when put together, letters in a blend maintain their sounds. Let’s take the example of the word ‘stick. In this word,/st/ is a blend and that is because the sound of /s/ and /t/ can be heard distinctly as separate phonemes. In other words, the two letters are heard as two separate sounds. 

One the other hand, a digraph is when two letters come together to make a completely new sound. This can be explained with the help of an example. Let’s take the word ‘show’. When you teach and sound out the word, you do not say /s/ /h/ individually but as a whole i.e. /sh/ as in show. 

Hence, there stands one clear distinction between blends and digraphs. A blend when combined retains its original sounds, but a digraph produces a new sound. 

Q2) What are the most common blends and digraphs and where do I start? 

To start off , one must remember that there are no predefined rules or an order to teach both blends and digraphs. Our experts at Kutuki recommended that before you teach blends and digraphs, ensure that your child can clearly distinguish between sounds of different vowels and consonants. It is crucial that they also understand how to blend individual sounds to form CVC words. After that you can explore blends and digraphs as mentioned below :

BLENDS

When you teach blends, always start with the most commonly occurring blends i.e. ‘S,’ ‘L’ and ‘R’ blends. You will often hear the term ‘consonant blend’. It is when two or more consonants are blended, but each consonant’s sound is heard in the blend. 

The most common consonant blends include; 

S-blends 

st: star, stop 

sl: sleep, slip 

sp: spider, spot 

sm: small, smart 

sp: space, spoon 

L-blends 

fl: flag, flip

bl: black, blue 

cl: clap, clue 

gl: globe, glue 

pl: play, plate 

R-blends 

fr : frog, fruit

gr : grass, green

cr : crown, crab

tr : tree, trip 

dr: drum, dress

Blends usually appear at the beginning of a word like blow, glass, please. For children, blends are difficult to pronounce in isolation. Hence, it is best to slide to a vowel sound right away to make it easy for them. Remember to go as slow as possible and give your child enough time to practice each blend. 

DIGRAPHS 

We now know that a digraph is two letters that come together to make a new sound.

The sound that is created by a digraph is called a diphthong. 

Usually, digraphs must be taught once your child can distinguish the sounds of consonants and vowels. You can start teaching your child with the most commonly occurring digraphs ‘ch’ ‘sh’ ‘th’ and ‘wh’ consonant digraphs. Let us look at the examples for each of these digraphs

-sh – ship, sheep 

-ch – chair, chain 

-th – think, thumb 

-wh – when, where 

To help your child learn these consonant digraphs in a fun way, watch the story  Mr. h and his four Best Friends’ on Kutuki for Android or Kutuki for IOS today.

Q3) How should I teach blends and digraphs? 

Every child is unique and preschoolers, especially, develop at their own pace. It is important to give them their space to explore and experiment while also supporting them with guided instruction especially for an acquired skill like reading. 

Explicit phonics instructions in many ways provide clear direction to a child for what a blend and digraph sound like. It is important to use multisensory aids such as alliterative rhymes and stories, observing lip movements to sound out the blend or digraph, pictorial representations, flashcards, cue cards and a range of games that will allow children to apply their learning.

We hope this blog has given you the answers and effective tips to teach your child blends and digraphs and get them started on their reading journey.

Want to learn blends and digraphs from the experts? 

Join Kutuki’s Live Phonic and Math Program today! Call now and  enquire about Kutuki’s Live Phonics and Math Program, please send a WhatsApp message and speak to our Academic Counselor.

Download the Kutuki App either from Kutuki for Android or Kutuki for IOS today and free yourself from the fuss of teaching your child phonics.

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Made for India Phonics

The Ultimate Guide To Teach Your Child ‘CVC’ Words

Reading is an acquired skill and the first step to get your child started  on their reading journey is through CVC Words. We’ve brought to you some experts tips, tricks and techniques to teach your preschooler CVC words.  Read on to find out! 

If you’re looking for the right expert to get your child started on their preschool journey, join Kutuki’s Live Phonics and Math Program now ! For more information, please send a Whatsapp message and speak to our Academic Counselor.

 

So, what are CVC words? 

CVC stands for  Consonant-Vowel – Consonant and  any word that follows this pattern is called a CVC word. They are the most commonly occurring three letter words.   For example – cat, map, cup, pin 

We often find CVC words in children’s story books, board books and other early reader’s resources. This is because CVC words are very easy to sound out and blend in the initial stages of reading in English. 

But it is crucial that you use well-defined strategies  and resources to teach CVC words as they are the building blocks for children to be able to read, speak and spell independently over time. 

Introduce CVC Words through Word Families

The best way to learn and introduce a range of CVC words is through word families.The range of word families is very vast and you might be wondering where to begin. Don’t worry! Here’s a small list that we’ve put together for you to start off with 

-an words: ban, fan, can 

-ap words: cap, lap, tap 

-in words: bin, fin, pig 

-it words: bit, fit, hit

STEPS TO TEACH CVC WORDS. 

Here are six simple steps you must follow to teach CVC words. Whether you are an educator or a parent homeschooling your child, these steps are sure to support you in getting your child to read simple CVC words meaningfully. 

STEP-1 

When you first teach CVC words through word families, follow a gentle pace and choose one word family at a time. Let’s take the ‘-an’ word family. Write down a CVC word from the ‘an’ family e.g.  ‘can’ or use a flashcard, just like the one shown below. Put a dot below every letter and ask your child to place their finger on the dot and sound out each letter slowly while moving from left to right. Once they are comfortable, they can quicken the pace and start blending the sounds together and say the word fluently.

This flashcard is copyrighted by Kutuki. This and other resources are exclusively available only  if you have enrolled into Kutuki’s Live Phonics. 

STEP-2 

Use the kinesthetic technique of arm blending or arm tapping for children to understand the movement between one letter sound to another in a CVC word and blend them fluently. This is a simple yet very effective technique that does not require any other resources other than your arm.

Say you want to teach the CVC word ‘cap’ from the ‘ap’ family using the arm blending technique. 

First, stretch your arm out, place your other palm on your shoulder  and sound out the /c/ sound, next slowly slide your palm to your elbow and say the /a/ sound and then slowly slide to the palm and end with the /p/ sound. 

Repeat this shoulder-elbow-palm sliding method a couple of times and then quicken the sliding movement while saying every letter sound out loud. This will help your child physically feel the movement of every letter sound from left to right while also blending the sounds smoothly. 

Here is our Phonics Expert Hiral Ma’am, demonstrating the arm blending technique for you. 

STEP-3

Once they are comfortable blending each sound in the CVC word, the next step is to put them in the context of simple sentences.This will help them understand the word in context while also discovering a pattern in the sounds of the CVC words. Again, it is best to introduce CVC words associated with one word family at a time in a sentence .

For example, take the ‘at’ family. Some of the common CVC words that belong to the ‘at’ family are cat , mat, sat. Now make a simple sentence with these words.

The cat sat on a mat

Because the words rhyme, it’s easy for the child to repeat the pattern in sound and internalise it.

STEP-4 

Create fun activities where your child gets the opportunity to identify which CVC word belongs to which word family. This is a great way to check your child’s understanding of CVC words.

Our experts at Kutuki have curated a fun game called ‘Word Family Bingo’ to support you with this.  Write 4-5 word families on a sheet of paper as shown below. Call out a CVC word e.g. map and ask your child to colour or put a stamp on the word family it belongs to. 

You can play this game as many times as possible with as many CVC words. 

We sincerely hope that these ideas have helped you get started with CVC Word activities for your child. If you are looking for expert guidance to teach your child Phonics, enroll into Kutuki’s Live Phonics Program today. 1000s of students have become active readers  and your child could too!

Want more details? 

To know more about Kutuki’s Live Phonics and Math  classes please send a Whatsapp message and speak to our Academic Counselor. 

Download the Kutuki App either from Kutuki for Android or Kutuki for IOS today and free yourself from the fuss of teaching your child phonics. 

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Made for India Phonics

3 Phonics strategies to supercharge your child’s reading journey

phonics-strategies

Letters are the first thing that preschool-aged children learn when they are being introduced to a language. Every letter has its own sound (phonics), and it is important to remember that even if a child can identify letters it doesn’t mean that they know its sound.

The way we teach children letters and their sounds can vary based on the language we speak, the early learning philosophies we follow or the resources available to introduce them. 

However, unlike regional languages spoken in India, English is not a phonetic language. For example, in Hindi, the letter अ sounds exactly how it is written. But in English, the letter ‘a’ for example has many sounds like /a/ as in apple or /a/ as in ate. This can get confusing for young children, especially when you are growing up in a linguistically diverse country like India. Therefore, when introducing the English language, it is crucial to spend a lot of time helping children connect with the letters and their sounds, phonics through a continuous multi sensory experience. This lays the foundation for how they will start forming words with reading, speaking and writing gradually following suit. 

Are you wondering how to teach your child phonics the right way? Join Kutuki’s Live Phonics Program today! 

Whether you are a parent, teacher or an educator you must have multiple tools to teach your child letter sounds and letters. As adults when we want to find out things, we access multiple resources like books, the internet and much more. In the same way, even our little ones need various resources and through this, they learn the letter sounds along with the letter. You can make individual letter posters on the wall, or mini flash cards depicting each letter along with a small image that starts with the same letter or even use songs and stories.

Pro Tip : Teach your child at a slow pace, go letter by letter gradually and take at least a week to teach your child one individual letter and the corresponding sound. 

Read on to find out the three important strategies to teach your child letter sounds. 

  1. GET CREATIVE AND USE SONGS TO TEACH LETTER AND SOUNDS

It’s no secret that our tiny tots yearn to be creative. They always want to find ways to do things out of the box. The key here is to be creative and choose activities in such a way that they are engaged in a fun way to practice each letter sound without it getting boring. We all know children love to sing, clap and sway around with peppy tunes. Here comes the role of music and songs in teaching letter sounds and phonics. 

When children listen to songs they can hear the sound, mimic it and internalise the sounds with actions. It is important that the songs focus on only one letter sound at a time. They are lyrically simple and alliterative where the same letter sound is repeated in consecutive words. This allows for repetition which is crucial in helping preschool aged children practice and create a mental map of the sounds. The melody should be simple yet catchy. Using action words and  ‘onomatopoeias’ i.e. words that phonetically mimic a sound e.g. meow, oink, hiss makes learning letter sounds enjoyable and participative. 

Pro Tip: Here’s a fun alliterative song by Kutuki to learn the sound of the letter S. Sing this song twice a day for an entire week and we promise your little one will never forget the sound of letter S.

“The snake likes to slither in the sand 

It goes /s/ /s/ /s/ 

/s/ /s/ /s/

The slithering snake goes /s/ /s/ /s/ 

/s/ /s/ /s/

  1. CREATE ALLITERATIVE STORIES FOR TEACHING INDIVIDUAL LETTER SOUNDS

A child grasps the letter sounds  fast when they learn it in an alliterative form. An ‘Alliteration’ is simply the repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning of most of the words in a sentence, or in consecutive words in the same sentence. Through alliteration, the child understands the sound of the letter and is well aware of how each sound is distinctive to each letter. You can either create phrases or sentences based on alliteration principles. For instance; 

Bob bought the box of bricks. 

Peter picked a pack of pickled peppers. 

She sells sea shells on a seashore. 

Pro Tip: Find a range of fun, alliterative stories on the Kutuki App  and get your little one to connect with every letter sound. 

Here’s a little excerpt from The Letter C story

“Clever cat clever cat  cuddly as cotton

Clever cat clever cat curls up in a cot 

Clever cat clever cat  eats cake and cookies

Clever Cat is too clever to get caught”

In the Kutuki App you have several examples for every letter which are more visually appealing, and keeps your child engaged in an informative and interactive way. 

  1. PROVIDE THEM WITH A HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE

One of the best ways to engage your child to grasp the letter sounds is to incorporate it within motor skills activities. This gives your child the ability to connect with the sound as well as the form of each letter. 

Here are some ways you can incorporate motor skill activities while teaching your child letter sounds

  • You can ask your child to trace the letter on sand, rice or salt while they say the letter sound out aloud
  • Print out letters(each on one sheet preferably in big, bold font) and use play dough and ask them to form letters on the letter sheet while saying its sound at the same time.

Pro Tip: Kutuki always makes use of sensory activities to teach your child the letter sound and the letters. Your child will trace the letter step-wise and recite the letter sounds at the same time.

CONCLUSION

Now that you know the different strategies, it is important to remember that every child is different and develops at their own pace.  You can take time and experiment with each strategy and choose what fits best for your child. 

Download the Kutuki App either from Kutuki for Android or Kutuki for IOS today and free yourself from the fuss of teaching your child phonics. 

Join Kutuki’s Live Phonics Classes and learn with the best Language experts. Send us a Whatsapp message and speak to our Academic Counselor today.  

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Made for India Phonics

Why the fuss about Phonics?

Children as young as six months may say their first word. By one and a half to two they start talking more, and by three, their vocabulary suddenly sky-rockets. Amazing? Spectacular? Marvellous? — none of these words begin to touch upon how full of wonder and discovery that journey is; and how thrilling it is to watch. But often this excitement with language, expression and communication suddenly falls flat when those same children go to school. Why?

Understand how phonics can accelerate your child’s reading

When you are a baby, every sound you make is met with excitement. And then you join school, and most of the time you are just reproducing letters that no one is excited about. Where did all the love for your language learning go? When did that thrilling ride crash into such a bore?

kutuki-phonics

 

‘Phonics for Indian children with Kutuki’

Phonics is about learning letters and their sounds.

Every word we say is made up of sounds and each of these sounds can be drawn on the page as a letter. Some sounds we make are gentle and soothing, like the /m/ in mama and amma and the /b/ in baba and abba, or /p/ in papa and appa. These are often among the first sounds babies make. Other sounds we make come from the back of our tongues, near our throats, like the ‘hahaha’ that comes out when we laugh. And then there are sounds that we make by rolling our tongues so they touch the roof of our mouth, like /r/. The hardest sounds for little kids to make, /r/ is in scary words, frightened, afraid; r is in angry words and exclamations grrrrrrrrr! /r/ makes us loud and scary!

The way we use our mouths to make sounds is so much fun for us to learn. Our mouths are like a theatre — we can make our emotions boom and thunder or come out gently and as soft as ever. So let your preschool kids sound out soft and sound out free, all the sounds they can conceive.

When we learn the English alphabet, it is important that we connect

1) Letters and how they are written [the letter R r, for example] to

2) their sounds [/r/] to

3) Interesting , meaningful words that have this sound [rabbit] to

4) Fun, rich contexts that give these letters and words an exciting meaning for children

These are the 4 pillars of any strong phonics program. Does your school’s phonics program cover this?

Take a look at Kutuki’s phonics program, tailor made for Indian preschooler kids on the links provided below and do share your feedback.

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Phonics

Baby Talk

Tell us, do you know how a child’s mind functions? Their non stop questions and ideas are nothing short of wild, imaginative and sometimes downright strange.

Unlike adults, a child’s mind does not function according to a chronological checklist put inside constrained boxes. It is free from the fear of rigid rules.

Children, very innocently , ask questions ranging from “Why does our hair grow?” to “What did it feel like on your last day of being a child?” These questions could appear silly but they are ,in fact, layered with depth and emotions.

From Kutuki’s story ‘I have a question for you’

 

At Kutuki, we try to stay conscious of their intelligence and never indulge in baby talk with them. As storytellers and songwriters, the tone and treatment of our writing may be simple and easy but the complexity of the topic is something that even their adult parents can relate to. A thought is a thought and it can be expressed in very complicated words and plot twists or in a very simple way in a children’s story — but it’s important that the essence of the thought is never lost or ‘dumbed down’.

We do not look at children as infants and mollycoddle them. In fact, drawing from personal experiences, as a child you tend to be more open to family members who are not over protective and who speak to us as equals. This removes the pressure or fear to impress them. We trust to speak our mind and that gets carried forward to adulthood.

Image from Kutuki’s story ‘Zuberi and El’

 

Trust is hard to build between two people that don’t hold equal power. We like to write stories that allow children to understand different relationships with different characters from varied backgrounds. And build stories and plots that allow them to make their own interpretations of those relationships and emotions. You will be surprised at what children come up with on their own. We like to avoid forcing a conclusion down their throat with a ‘Moral of the story’ at the end.

A child becomes what she/he reads, thinks, eats, wears, dreams, speaks, whispers and most importantly feels. When he/she is allowed to express it in their own way, they know their voice is heard and that they are valued without us oversimplifying things for them.