Dyslexia Must Buy Resources

I was delighted to have the opportunity to hold a talk last night on Dyslexia. The Wexford Library Service have always been a great support and encourager mine. It was great to get to “talk” and demonstrate rather than just blogging. It was actually really, really hard to keep to time and I had 1.30hrs!!! There was just soon much to cover. I tried to have a good mix between understanding the neurobiology and what you can and should actually do in a classroom or home setting. I lugged as much as I could from my personal resources.

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Here are two of the key resources that any teacher or indeed parent should have. Knowledge is power. These little gems will be a great reference tool to add to your collection. I’ve had both of these for years and they are pretty wrecked from use. I really struggled to find a ‘clean page’ to photograph. By this I mean a page that didn’t look worn,  selloptaped etc. I really, really use these: Jolly Phonics Word Book and Prim-Ed Spelling Essentials.

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The Jolly Phonics Word Book is a fantastic resource for phonetically regular word list. Here is a peak at the menu:

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I always keep my Jolly Phonics Word Book by my side for literacy lessons in class. I actually am the proud owner of two of these. I have a copy for home use as I find the Jolly Phonics Word Book so vital for my fortnightly planning and literacy schemes.

The Jolly Phonics Word Book is worth its weight in gold for your phonics lesson or indeed home practice to support classroom learning. It’s simply a compilation of word lists that correspond to the phonemes and digraphs (a.k.a “sounds”) taught in Jolly Phonics. It’s worth noting that the Jolly Phonics Word Book would be a great buy even if you are using an alternative phonics programme.

You will never again run out of or blank on words that contain the chosen sound. When you have 34 kids in your class and you are looking for a different word per child then this is “the bomb”.

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Click here to purchase the Jolly Phonics Word Book. It costs 3.47 Euro and the postage is free.

Prim-Ed Spelling Essentials is another god send for lesson planning. It’s more a great reference for lesson planning or homework support. It helps to explain all of the most common and important spelling patterns that we need to teach all readers but especially those with language processing difficulties such as Dyslexia.

Prim-Ed Spelling Essentials is a really easy to use reference tool for parents, teachers and kids. It is extremely comprehensive as you can see from the image of the index:

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Here is an even more detailed look inside the front cover of Prim-Ed Spelling Essentials:

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These spelling rules, taught in a multi-sensory and systematic way would make a huge impact on reading, writing and spelling.

As you can see, Prim-Ed Spelling Essentials, is like a dictionary for spelling rules. Find the rule in the index and refer to the relevant rule. This could be an indispensable reference tool for an older child to check if they are spelling a word correctly.  I think Prim-Ed Spelling Essentials would complement any instructional programme. I wore this book out when I was studying for my Masters in Special Education and tutoring children with Dyslexia.

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It’s hard to believe the price of this book. Prim-Ed Spelling Essentials is 2.99Euro!!! I know, it’s incredible!!! Click here to purchase from the Prim-Ed Website.

For less than 7.00Euro you can  have an amazing amount of information at your fingertips. I hope that you find these books as indispensable as I do.

Do you have an essential that you would like to recommend? Please leave a comment below or message me on Facebook. I’m always on the hunt for new resources.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


Free Roll Say Keep Printable

I decided to “funk up” a very, very old favourite resource of mine: “Roll, Say, Keep”. “Roll Say Keep” is just one of those incredibly useful and versatile resources. All you need to play is a dice, relevant flashcards and a “Roll Say Keep” template per child.

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How to use “Roll Say Keep” in your classroom or home:

High Frequency word practice

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Phonics practice:

Here we were practicing phonemes and digraphs

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Here we were practicing “ee/ea” sounds

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Maths Facts:

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The list of uses for “Roll Say Keep” is pretty much endless!!!! My Differentiated Instruction Cubes are making another appearance in this blog post. They are one of my top 5 favourite teacher resources of all time. I swear that I’d be lost without them!!! You can purchase them here.

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I have inserted 5 Frame images in this instance to encourage “subitising” of number as well as literacy practice. Double whammy. Love it!!!

How to play:

Roll the dice and find the corresponding flashcards e.g Roll a 6 and you must read/answer the card in the number 6 dice box. If you can read/answer it you keep it.The card is removed from the gameboard and another placed in that box. The winner is the first to correctly win “X” number of flashcards. If the word/answer if unknown remove it from the board too and set aside for practice either/instruction.

You can download my free ‘Roll Say Keep’ template by clicking here: roll say keep.


Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Frozen Themed Phonics Game

With “back to school” around the corner I figured that you might be in the market for a fun phonics game! By using “Frozen” as my theme it is still “Winter-themed” but with no reference to Santa!!!  My Frozen  themed phonics game is designed for your pupils to revise or explore “ai words”.

Frozen is very simple to make and to set up. You simply need a large bag of cotton wool balls /snowballs and to laminate the “ai” words sheets provided. Cut out the snowballs and toss them into a container. My pupils really loved “digging in the snow” to find the “ai” words. My Frozen  themed phonics game would be a great addition to your Literacy Lift Off stations.

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The “winner” gets to take home a lovely certificate :Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 14.47.18

Detailed instructions on how to play my Frozen themed phonics game are included in the download. Enjoy!!!

Click here to download my Frozen ai game.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Jolly Phonics Blending and Decoding, Group 1

I think that I could happily teach phonics all day long! It is definitely one of my absolute favourite things to do!!! I always get really excited when children are learning to blend and segment sounds into words.

For those of you who are not familiar with these terms “blending” is when we sound out a word using a continuous sound eg ccccaaaat= cat. Segmenting is the exact opposite. It the way by which we spell words.  We “chop” them up into their constituent sounds c…/a…/t… It is really important not to confuse the two and for children to be taught to use both blending and segmenting. They also need to know when to use each.

I have met lots of children who only know how to chop up/segment sounds. It is really, really hard to know what an unfamiliar word is when you read it in a robotic voice! When you s-t-r-e-t-c-h it out words are much easier to hear. This strategy will hence forth be known as “stretchy snake”!

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 20.30.30You can read more about blending and print my Stretchy Snake poster by clicking here.

I have been busy creating a presentation of Group 1 Words for tomorrow. Group 1 Jolly Phonics words cover: s, a, t, i, p, n

I will open the PDF in Activeinspire. This means that I can get pupils to circle individual sound eg circle the “s”. We can also have lot of practice blending the sounds into words. I will use the same words with a blank page on my flip chart and have my class “sound talk” or use their robotic voice to segment/chop up the sounds in a word and I will write them.

Here are some images of the slides that you can download:

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Click here to download

I hope that you find these useful with your class or your child at home.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Split Digraph Game

I am busy revising split digraphs (a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e)  with my class this week. I had my fingers crossed that their knowledge was not displaced by Easter break! I think that Hot Potato was a great help with consolidating split digraphs! It was so much fun to play that we practiced them more than any other year. Will be rolling it out again next year, that’s for sure 😉

As we are having a  week long break from “Power Hour” I was on the hunt for a fun, interactive game for split digraphs. I struck gold with this one! It is fun but pretty tricky. You really do need your wits about you!

The link below is for u_e words. They are the trickiest to decode and pronounce by far. The object of the game is to spell the word by tapping on the correct tiles. You must tap them in the correct order. Sounds simple, right? It would be if it wasn’t for the fact that the letter tiles keep moving!!!! You can, thank goodness, use the small arrow key to delete a letter if necessary.

I dare you to play is before your child/class. It is tricky to tap the tiles before they move. Lot of fun and laughter in my room when we played this. I had pupils decode the word before spelling it on the tiles.

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Click here to play

I hope that you have lots of fun playing this game. Oh yeah, there is a harder, timed level for those of you who dare!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

My Favourite Things for 3-4 year olds

Hi Everybody,

Following some requests and queries I thought that I would share with you my “favourite things” for preschoolers or emergent readers, 3-4 year olds. I have reviewed all of these before but decided to put them together to make them easier to find.


Chicka Chick Boom Boom, Dr Seuss’s ABC, Sesame Street , My First Bob Books, Starfall

Do you have any favourite things for 3-4 year olds? I would love to hear from you if you do! It is great to get recommendations and to expand my collection of teaching resources. Mind you, the study and attic are already stuffed 😉

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Free Split digraph word game

For the last few weeks I have been teaching my pupils to recognise and “sound out” words that contain a split digraph (a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e).

A ‘split digraph’ means that a vowel sound has been split. The end vowel (the ‘e’) reaches back over the consonant to make the previous vowel say its “name” and not its “sound”. The sound is now a long vowel sound as in: make, Pete, bike Rome, broke and mule.

Teaching phonics in the small group setting of Power Hour is fantastic. Children have so many more opportunities to interact and learn. I just love playing games with my groups. Bingo and “Roll, Say, Keep”  are always popular. It would be dangerous  to wear out the novelty factor of these games though! We played “Roll, Say, Keep” last week and Bingo the week before. What to do!!!

Well, I sat down the other evening and would not allow myself to leave my study until I had come up with a new split digraph game. I spent some time looking through MS Word Clip Art and then it came to me! It’s called “Hot Potato” and my class are going nuts over it!!!!

Hot Potato is a variation on a classroom game that I have been playing for years called Crash. When you read the instructions I am sure that you will all recognise the game. I just “re-packaged” it. Just like you can’d hold onto a hot potato you can’t hold onto your cards if you draw it from the bundle!

Anyway, here’s how to play Hot Potato!

  • Print, laminate and cut out all of the cards. There are over 70 word cards!
  • Bundle them into a deck of cards and shuffle.
  • Turn the cards face down on the table. Children take it in turns to turn over the top card.
  • If the child can read it then he/she can keep it.
  • If a child gets the “Hot Potato” card then he/she must give back all of the cards!!
  • The winner is the person with the most cards at the end of the game.

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Click here to download Hot Potato

I hope that you all have as much fun practicing your split digraphs with this game as we did. I tried to have a balance of words so that all of my pupils could win some cards.There are a few tricky words in there just to keep them on their toes!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

th workpack

As I have mentioned I am using the Literacy Lift Off Model of teaching literacy this term. I am in charge of phonics. It is pretty hectic trying to teach and consolidate a lesson in 10 minutes! I have been busy creating worksheets and games that help us along!

I spent quite a while coming up with a “th workpack”. I have included both sounds “th” as in them and “th” as in thick. Below are some of the sheets that I created for Power Hour last week.

th 1

I inserted the sheet below into a poly-pocket so that my pupils could write/erase using a whiteboard marker. We used it to explore where the “th” sound was in the word (beginning, middle, end) and then sounded out and wrote the word.
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I used these sentence strips for consolidation at the end of the week. It was also a useful way to review capital letters and punctuation marks.th 3

Please click here to download my entire th workpack

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Literacy Lift Off & “Power Hour”

I am delighted that my class has started the literacy initiative “Literacy Lift Off”!!!  It is an intensive programme of Reading and Writing. Over the course of 1 hour pupils engage in a number of “stations” where activities are tailor made to their own level of competency over time we  gradually lift the complexity of  the what they can do in both reading and writing.

The aim of Literacy Lift-Off is to make pupils constructive learners. It teaches them ‘how’ to problem-solve independently.


Click here to view a video of LLO

Children are divided up into small groups ( max 7 per group). There are 5 stations and children spend 10 minutes at each. By the end of the hour they will have visited each activity and will take home their “new read” for homework.

There are now 5 adults in my room from Monday-Thursday and this is what we are up to!!

Station 1: Familiar Reading

Pupils read previously seen PM+ Readers.

Purpose: Development of enjoyment, fluency, comprehension and speed.

Station 2: New Reading 
Children will explore and then take home a new reader each day. This challenges the pupils to discover new ways to go beyond their current operating ability and lift their literacy processing.

Purpose: Pupils learn to use strategic activities to read new texts.

Station 3: Phonics
Children are supported to improve their abilities in  blending & segmenting words ( to make and break words) through lots of games and activities.

Purpose: To show children how words work, so that they can make a fast visual analysis of their reading

Station 4: Writing
Pupils write sentences using words that they encounter in their readers and the high frequency words that they are studying.

Purpose: That they will learn how they can write their own messages by hearing and recording sounds in words, using analogy and learning unusual words.

Station 5: High Frequency Words
Through games and small group instruction pupils learn to read the most common HFW appropriate to their age

Purpose: Children become aware of “tricky words” that allow them to access text with greater ease and to increase their reading fluency and accuracy.

“Power Hour” as we are calling it is a fantastic reading initiative and I cannot wait to see the results. The school has invested thousands of euro and lots of “teacher power” into Literacy Lift Off !!! I am so grateful to all of those who have  been involved in fundraising over the last number of year.

The kids are LOVING it so far. Mind you, I have never been busy. The team have been meeting 2o minutes early every morning since it started. I spent a few hours planning this weekend for the coming week only!!!

Watch this space as I will be keeping you up to date on our “Power Hour” activities.

If any of you are already doing LLO I would love to hear from you. Any tips or advice for newbies?!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Fun with Sounds and Elkonin Boxes

Here is another fun way to practice spelling and phonics skills. All you need are some plastic letters and my Elkonin Boxes. Please click here for a link to download the boxes from a previous post.

There is an interesting sequence that parents should be aware of in spelling and phonics. Children learn to recognise sounds in words in the following order:

  • initial sound
  • final sound
  • medial sound (middle sound)

We tend to voice the initial and final sounds of words a little louder which makes them slightly easier to hear. Young children will often spell words without the middle/medial sound so “cat” can be written as “ct”.

Elkonin boxes can be so handy when practicing or teaching sounds. The photo below shows how they can be used to practice the initial sound in words.

  • What is the first sound in “cot”?
  • Can you change “cot” into “not”?

Most spelling programmes are based on the concept of word families. Children learn to spell words with same end sound (rime). By changing the first sound(s) before the vowel (onset) you can create a new word from the same family. The photo above shows the “ot” family. Can make not, hot, cot, spot, lot…?

Here is the trickier ” medial” sound. What is the middle sound in “nut”, “net”, “not”?

You can use them to practice blending or “stretching out” words. Create a word on the board and have your child stretch out the sounds. Then swap roles so your child is spelling out words for you to decode.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

For Parents of Junior Infants: Brush up on your (Jolly) Phonics!

This one is especially for parents of children who have just started school. If your child’s school is using Jolly Phonics chances are your child has already begun to learn his or her sounds.

Jolly Phonics is a form of synthetic phonics. This means that it  first teaches the letter sounds and then teaches children to “blend” sounds together to read and write words eg. cat = caat. Blending is often referred to as “sounding out”. Children are also taught to “segment” which involves breaking words up into sounds eg c/a/t. We do this when spelling words.

Your child will probably already have completed the Sounds in Set 1 and perhaps Set 2 at this stage. Here they are:

Click here to download Glance Card

Download this free glance card and save it for when you are doing homework.

You can use it in 2 main ways:

  1. Randomly point to a letter and ask your child what sound it makes.
  2. Call out a sound and ask your child to point it out.

You now have an easy way to check your child’s sounds 🙂 Just remember that it is letter sounds and not letter names that children learn in the beginning.

Be careful when pronouncing these sounds. Think of a simple 3 letter word eg sat and sing it rather than say it! It is easier to hear the constituent sounds if you do.

Here is an explanation of the sounds covered is Sets 1-2. It is always tricky to write down phonetic sounds. I hope that they make sense 😉

“s” is a long sound as in sssssnake and not suh

“a” is a short sound as in a/nt

“t” is a short sound as in t/ap and not  a harsh tuh ( the “uh” at the end in soft)

“i” is a short sound as in it

“p” is a short sound as in pig. It has a very gently “uh” sound at the end. Curl your lips in around your teeth & push them out like a little explosion. The “uh” sound is subtle rather than pronounced.

“n” is a long sound as in nnnnet and not nuh

“c”  and “k” are a short sounds as in cap and kit. It has a very gently “uh” sound at the end.

“e” is a short sound as in egg

“h” is a soft, short sound and not huh. Take a deep breath and sigh to hear it 🙂

“r” is a long sound as in rrrrip and not ruh

“m “is a long sound as in mmmat and not muh

“d” is a soft, short sound as in dip with a quite rather than pronounced uh sound at the end.

I hope that this helps :). It is so important to get it right in the beginning. If you have any further questions please feel free to email me info@missmernagh.com.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Keeping on top of sounds!

I don’t know about you but sometimes it is hard to keep on top of who knows what in phonics! With 33 children in my class this year I have to be on top of my game ;).

I created a  Sound Identification Sheet that I find great. I use it at the beginning of the year and at the start of each term to see who knows what. You would have to check more often if children are struggling or if you teach Infants etc.

Please click here for a link to this post

I also have these rather nifty sheets to help me check sounds. They are based on the Jolly Phonics teaching order, as are the Sound Identification Sheets.

Please click here for a link to this post

*Please note that you no longer need Google Docs open. Just click on the image!

As a teacher I also need to know what sounds are proving tricky over all for my class. This helps with my planning. I usually use post-its and hastily scribbled notes. They do the job but I figured that I could do better than this!

Voila, my new sheet!!!

Click here to download

It is soooooo much easier to see where generally difficulties and weaknesses are. I hope that you find it as useful as I have.

How do you keep track? Do have any tips that you would like to share?!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

ps The cute ABC graphic is from www.djinkers.com

Free Sight Word App

I had a rummage around last weekend for an iPad app for high frequency words. There are lots of great apps available but I was looking for one that was free 😉

I was delighted to find this one by “Teacher Created Materials Publishing”.

As you can see it covers 25 high frequency words (HFW) that children need to learn to read  “by sight”. This means that they are not phonologically regular and cannot be sounded out.

I love the fact that the words are broken up into bite sized chunks. Your child can then learn or revise just a small number, experience success and move on to the next level. It can be frustrating to be staring at a very long list of words!

The app is very user friendly for children. It is brightly coloured and nice and large for little hands to use and to read.

How to use this app:

  • To hear the word- click on the “star” on the left of the screen
  • To record yourself saying the word- click the microphone button and keep it depressed while you say the word.
  • Write the word- use your pointer finger to write it on the screen
  • To erase the word- click the eraser icon

At the end of your 5 words you make a jigsaw, play hangman, concentration or Tic Tac Toe. Kids are all about the games…!

It’s nice to find an app that you can use as a test. You could use it to test your child’s level of recall by not pressing on the “star”. In fact, if you go to their website by following this link you will get a printable  checklist for sight words 1-25.

You can also download  these free printable flashcards from teachercreatedmaterials.com. You could print a double set and play “snap” or “go fish”. I just love how well thought out these teachercreatedmaterials.com games are.

I can hardly believe that this app is free! I was pleasantly surprised to see the cost of purchasing the full app. Please click here to be taken to teachercreatedmaterials.com app store.

I hope that you find this post useful. Are any of you already using this app? Have you others that you can recommend?

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

My Little Box of Books

I came across a really lovely new series of books for Junior Infants last week. It is produced by Edco Primary English and  it is being launched for the start of the next school year.

” My Little Box” is a lovely concept and very well thought out. The box contains 10 little stories books for small little hands. The stories are about the adventures of Danny, Zeb ( his stuffed zebra), Emma and Josh. Not a weird alien or odd sounding name in sight for a change! The stories are based on topics that young children can easily relate to: Halloween, the market, saying hello and goodbye, the playground, “I can”, the telescope, tree houses, the swimming pool, Danny and his Mum and making a spaceship from an old box.

I love that they books contain lots of high frequency words and that each book only covers 6 new ones at most. They are also repeated over and over in the book. The controlled introduction and frequent use means that children will find them easier to learn to read. The HFW are based on the Dolch list.

The back of each book clearly lays out the HFW that will be focused on:

Inside the text is lovely and clear and well spaced. It also has a font similar to that used in Jolly Phonics. I love joined up thinking!

I am delighted to see that Irish textbook manufacturers are finally waking up to the importance of these for beginner readers.  I have spent far too many years teaching children words that are not “valuable”. By this I mean words that are not likely to pop up in the next book they read. I think that Infant books should be based on Dolch words and the others should be decodable. There is no point in teaching phonics if the first book you hand out contains precious few words that can be sounded out!

I love the idea of beginner readers getting to take home 10 stories rather than 4 big books. It can be demotivating for struggling readers to be faced with a large book and lots of words to learn in one go. This format means that children only need to learn a few words before they can take a book home and read it for Mom. How motivating!

“My Little Box” costs 9.95 Euro. Follow this link for further details. Edco have even thought of Reader Rental schemes and will allow you to purchase books individually to replace books that are sodden with orange juice ;).

Unfortunately, my school is not searching for a new scheme at present. I really wish that we were! It is one to keep in mind for supplementing your classroom library even if you, like me, are stuck with older schemes.

If you are a parent of a Junior Infant next year it is worth buying and reading with your child to supplement other schemes used in your child’s school.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Books for Emergent Readers- Nick Sharratt

Nick Sharratt has produced a book that even the most reluctant reader is sure to love. It is bright, funny, imaginative and weird all in one.  I have always found that emergent readers just love to dive into this book and read it again and again.  You’ve got to love the title!

This split-page book  allows emergent readers to create their own story by simply turning the flaps. There are just an amazing amount of hilarious combinations for your child to create.  How about a duck in your lemonade?  Fancy jam in your bath? Surely you’d just adore custard on your toes!!!

Once again important  “tricky words” or “Dolch words” are covered ( do, you, like, your) .  You know my thoughts on practicing tricky words by now!  I love that fact that the same 4 tricky words along with “on” and “in” appear page after page. This will really support your child to either learn or consolidate ( know for once and for all 😉 ) these words.

There are some words to test your childs phonetic decoding skills such as chip, toast, bath, toothbrush, powder, ice, cube.  The clear illustrations will provide a visual clue. I would encourage you to get your child to sound out these words anyway. Practice makes perfect and relying on just visual clues will not a proficient reader make. What happens when there are fewer or no pictures?!

My old friend Book Depository is selling Ketchup On Your Cornflakes for 6.88Euro. Please click here for a link.

Not all of Nick Sharratt’s books have such simple text and limited words. I would recommend that you get this one first.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂