Books for Beginner Readers to Read themselves!

I get asked this question a lot “What books can I buy that my child can read himself/herself?!”. Buying books for beginner readers isn’t as simple as it seems. Most of your child’s favourite books such as “Owl Babies” or “The Pig in the Pond” are far, far too difficult for a Junior Infant child to read. In fact, by the time your child can read all the words necessary for these books he/she will probably consider it too “babyish” and dismiss them off hand.

I really like the “Bob Books” series. Set 1 Beginner Readers is perfect for Junior Infants or those in their first year of school.

Your child only need to be able to sound out the letters M, A, T and S to independently read his/her first book! New letters are added gradually, until by book 12, children have read books with all letters of the alphabet (except Q).

The series consists 12 books. 12 pages each. 3-letter words.

Here is a close-up of a page from the series. The story and the illustration is very simple and clear. Cute or what?!

While these books give good practice decoding or “sounding out words” this is not enough to achieve reading fluency. Your child should also be able to read some “Tricky Words” which are non-phonetic and are important connector words in stories such as ” the, has, he, she…”

May I introduce Bob Books: Sight Words Kindergarten 🙂

This series introduces the following words that are commonly found in stories for children this age, some are phonetic and are included due to their importance:

after       as      can      did        down      fly      get       go
goes       had   has       home   in             is        jump  look
not         off      on       over      ran         saw     see      she
some     they  to        was       went       who

The box contains:

10 easy-to-read,s small books, 12 pages each.

Stories are told in three and four letter words, plus  3 new sight words in each book.

Context clues and illustrations give sight word hints.

 30 two-sided, sight words flash cards.

You can see that they are nice and easy to read. The tricky word “saw” is the focus. I can state from experience that no child can have too much practice and exposure to these tricky words. Children who have a good and automatic knowledge of these are more fluent readers and have a greater understanding of the story they are reading than children who don’t.

For a long time these books were not readily available outside of the U.S. A big thanks to Book Depository for saving the day yet again. They deliver worldwide, yippee! I just love those guys! They are good value and reliable, I use them all the time.

You would imagine that these would cost a small fortune. Thankfully they are really, really affordable. I am currently saving to purchase the entire series!!!

Bob Books Set 1 Beginner Readers is only 10.68 Euro.

Click here for a link to the site

Bob Books Sight Words Kindergarten is only 10.64 Euro.

Click here for a link to the site

Books Depository currently have a 10% off offer making them even more affordable.

I hope that you find this post useful. I will be blogging about books for beginner over the coming weeks. If you have any questions please email me at or leave a comment on the end of this post.

Let me know if any of you purchase them. I would love to hear what you think.

Miss Mernagh 🙂


Preparing your Preschooler for School- Discriminating Sound

Here is another challenge for your child to encourage him/her to pay close attention to environmental sounds. I hope that enjoyed the last game that I posted about.

If you have not yet read the article, you really should as it explains the educational reasons behind games such as these. Please click here to read the article. Discriminating environmental sound correctly and with ease is a prerequisite for phonics.


Click here to play the Listen and Match Game

Your child needs to  listen and match the cans that make the same sounds. As you can see there are no visual cues at all!! The can on the bottom shelf needs to be dragged up to make a match. This game is a much greater challenge than Bailey Bear. If your child found that game way too easy then this is for you!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Preparing your Pre-Schooler for School: Discriminating Sound

It is hugely important to prepare Pre-School aged children for Primary School. If  your child is well prepared he/she will have a less stressful transition and experience early success in school. This will in turn lead to a positive attitude towards school and much needed boost to his/her self-esteem.

Here are 2 fun, easy and free games that you can play with your child over the coming months. When September comes around you will both be glad that you did.

The game is called  “A Listening Walk”. Your child can choose between a walk in a city or a walk in the countryside. Bailey Bear hears lots of different sounds and your child must click on the image that matches the sound.

This game will train your child to tune into sounds and also to listen carefully and distinguish between sounds (General Sound Discrimination).  Bailey Bear will  challenge your child to  listen to and remember sounds (auditory memory and sequencing) in order to play.

When your sit with your child and talk about all the sounds heard you will be developing vocabulary and language comprehension skills. Discuss the sounds that you heard and the sounds of the others images shown.

Play “Which one am I” before moving on to the next part of the game. Make a sound from the image above and ask ” Am I an airplane, police car, pedestrian crossing or children playing a ball game?”. Take turn with both you and your child making the sounds.

Play “I spy” with the pictures. “I spy with my little eye something with wings. Who am I?”.

All of this will enlarge vocabulary and encourage logical thinking.

These skills important pre-cursor to phonics instruction in school. If your child cannot distinguish the difference between the sound of a motor bike and an airplane, for example, distinguishing between “p” and “d” will be a huge struggle.

Click here to play

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

St. Patrick’s Day Printables

I can hardly believe that St. Patrick’s Day is only around the corner! My class have been busy preparing for our “cruinniú sa halla”. They have so many amazing “rann” and “amhráin” that I don’t know what to pick!

Our P.E Class yesterday was entirely “as Gaeilge” and we had a ball. We  warmed up with Ceann, Guailli, Gluan is Cos (Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes) and played “Soilse Tráchta” (Traffic Lights) and Isteach is amach trí na Cloigíní Gorma (In and out the dusty bluebells).

Next week I plan to do a St. Patrick’s Day activity daily.

Here is the first of the series:

Click here to download

Children need to help Liam Leprechaun collect more gold by reading and colouring only those words that make sense. All words are based on the Magic E which we have been studying ( a-e, i-e, o-e, u-e).

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

PDF list of “oa” words

Do you ever get weary of writing up words to blend and decode? I decided to create a short cut!

Here is a PDF of lots and lots of words, 20+, that contain the vowel digraph “oa”.

It am really looking forward to whipping it out tomorrow on my super duper interactive whiteboard! As it is a PDF document you should be able to open it with your software and have children highlight/circle the digraph and then blend the word.

Please let me know what you think! I will make lots more of them for different digraphs if they would be of use.

Here is a sample page:

Click here to download

It’s pretty simple but useful I think! Just grab your elastic band and blend those sounds 🙂

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Venetian Masks for Sight Word Practice Fun

I was in Tesco a few weeks ago picking up some treats for the 1st birthday of While in the party section  I saw these cute masks and just couldn’t resist!

Tesco is just a fantastic place to pick of teaching and art resources. I would encourage you to wander around it some day when you have time. It is just a treasure trove!

I picked up my lollipop sticks in Freemans in Oylegate. Another shop with a great carousel of art supplies. You can also pick them up in Tesco. I just happened to have some already. When purchasing the lollipop sticks  make sure that you pick up the wider, tongue depressor kind.


I simply snipped the elastic from the back of each mask and sellotaped on a lollipop stick. That’s it! These Venetian masks are a fun, cheap, and novelty way to practice sight words.

My class enjoyed using them today when we were practicing our sight words on our Interactive Whiteboard. The Venetian masks would also be just perfect for “read the room” activities.

If you have a particularly ” girly girl” or a child who enjoys dress up then they would be lovely for homework also.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teaching your child to read/spell Series: Initial Sounds

Have you been enjoying the phoneme popper? The game today is a quick and easy one. If your child enjoys jigsaw puzzles then this is the one…

Here is another fun game and video to help your child learn to recognise and hear initial sounds!

First you complete Theo’s  initial sound puzzle:

Then watch a short video clip of children with objects that match that initial sound. Once again the initial phoneme/sound is highlighted.

Click here to play

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teaching your child to read/spell Series: Initial sounds

Here is another fun concentration game to practice initial sounds. This game is a greaterchallenge than Monkey Match as your child will not hear an audio of the letter sound. Letter sounds either need to be known in order to play or you could sit with your child and support/scaffold your child to figure out the beginning sounds.

It would be just perfect for children in Senior Infants as it could be played with complete independence.

It’s a little less cute so it may have greater appeal for boys, though I know plenty of girls who like it!

Click a card in the top row to see a letter, then click a card in the bottom row to show a picture.

If the letter matches the initial sound of the object in the picture then you have found a match.

Click here to play

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teaching your child to read/spell: initial sounds series

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?! Let Big Bird help your child  learn initial sounds by clicking on the object that matches the letter sound. Big Bird will tell your child both the letter name and sound.

Click here to play

It’s so cute. You’ve just got to love Big Bird’s voice. Go ahead and try it. You are sure to enjoy with whatever about your child 😉 !!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teaching your child to read/spell: Initial Sounds

So, what are we playing today? How about a phoneme popper! A what popper?!?!


Phonemes are the smallest units of sound ie the individual sounds that your child is learning to pronounce phonetically.  When you say  the sound of “c” ( not it’s alphabetic name) it is a phoneme When your write it down and represent it graphically the written letter is called a “grapheme“.

These are worth understanding as you will see them mentioned on many of the teaching websites I will recommend. You may also find that your child will use the term “phoneme”. I use the term with my class all the time.

The game!

Your child will have lots and lots of opportunities to hear the sounds of the phoneme and associate it with its written form, the grapheme.

I love how they have separated out the phonemes into groups. This allows you to focus on just a small number of phonemes until they are well known. It will also allow parents to match the game exactly to the sounds that their child has for homework or is struggling with.

Feel free to play it even if your child has not been taught every sound in the grouping. This game is really designed to be instructional!

Your child need to pop the correct phoneme bubble to earn a point. Popping and incorrect phoneme will result in lost points. It makes a fun “pop” sound like a bubble bursting. Don’t forget to click on any flying saucers that whizz by.

Click here to play

This game will not time out. Decide with your child how long you will play for or just let him/her at it until the novelty wears off! I prefer to use it as a “warm-up” or ” revision” before playing other games.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teaching your child to read/spell Series: Initial sounds

I hope that you found yesterday’s post useful on why we teach initial sounds first and enjoyed the game  reinforcement game.

How about playing  Monkey Match,  a concentration game, today? Your child will be challenged to match the object to its initial sound.

Familiarity with initial sounds will benefit both reading and spelling. Concentration is great for, you guessed it, building up your child’s concentration and memory!

Our cool Hawaiian monkey friend gives clear explanations on how to play. The initial sounds are pronounced very clearly. The pictures are of everyday objects and animals, nothing too tricky.

Once you have successfully cleared your coconuts you are invited to play another round. The next round will contain different letters and sounds.

The lack of a timer makes the game user friendly for little ones just learning. They can take as long as necessary to play and win!

Click here to play!

If you are playing this with an older child for revision you could set a timer on your phone. Children love to try and beat a timer!!!

I would love to hear your comments on this and yesterday’s game. Did your child enjoy them? Any concerns or queries about sounds and phonics homework? I would be only thrilled to help!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teaching your child to read/spell Series: Initial sounds

For the next week or so I will be posting lots of tips, games and explanations on how to help your child with ” initial sounds”.

Let’s look at a basic “cvc”  (consonant-vowel-consonant) word that children will learn to read and spell:

The word “cat” comprises 3 sounds:

  • Initial sound: c
  • Medial sound: a
  • Final sound: t

These sounds are not equally easy for a child to hear and beginner readers are always taught to develop sound awareness in the following order:

  • intial
  • final
  • medial

When we voice a word it is common that we stress the the first sound so it is therefore the easiest to hear. I will not discuss the other sounds right now. Let’s just stick to ” initial sounds” 🙂

So, now that I know that “initial sounds” are the starting point for reading and spelling how do I actually help my child?!

Here is today’s game from

Starfall covers each letter of the alphabet individually. I just love this for beginner readers. Lots of games for initial sounds cover the entire alphabet. This means that a child can only play when her/she knows all of them! This format allows you to pick a new sound or revise an old one. It is a great way to supplement or reinforce the letter sound that your child is covering in school this week.

Starfall is fun, clear and easy to use making it suitable for your pre-schooler who insists on using your computer or iPad! He or she/will learn to associate letter sounds with the written letter just through play!

Your child clicks on the “initial sound” in pizza which is already highlighted and clear. When you click on the letter you hear it’s phonetic sound for further reinforcement and learning.

Now we can see the initial sounds of pepperoni and pizza are both “p”.

Sitting with your child will allow you to naturally discuss, question and probe sounds when they are new. After a while your child will understand and can just enjoy playing and learning the phonetic sounds.

It is also a sneaky place for adults to check that they are pronouncing the sounds correctly 😉

This time your child clicks on the “p” and the word is revealed. Again, the initial sound is highlighted and allows you to point it out and discuss it.

I hope that you find this series useful. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Learning the Alphabet Series

I hope that you have been enjoying my Learning the Alphabet Series! I  have tried to include lots of fun games, books and helpful tips for classroom and home use.

My class go nuts for Bingo . I am not sure that I have ever met a child who didn’t  jump for joy at the mention of the game!

Bingo is a brilliant way to establish whether or not a child knows the alphabet without pulling out a flashcard! It is so much fun and so interactive that children will play it over and over again thus helping them consolidate knowledge.

Here is a fantastic Bingo game that you can play online. I just love that you can select either lower-case or upper-case letters.

Click here to play!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Learning the alphabet with Sesame Street

Wait until you see this cute, cute game from Sesame Street!

Cookie Monster tells your child the name of the letter that he wants to eat. The game has helpfully highlighted the beginning/initial letter in each word.

Your child just clicks and drags the correct food to feed Cookie Monster. There is a lovely help button too and Cookie Monster is really sweet if you make a mistake!

Don’t you just love it! Click here to play Cookie Monster’s Letter of the Day

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Learning the Alphabet (Part 1)

Welcome to Part 1 of my Learning the Alphabet Series! I hope to inspire and empower you to help your little ones on the way to knowing their “A, B, C’s”. Today’s post is about my favourite story books that help to teach your child about the alphabet. I have two absolute favourites that I always use in my classroom and here they are! This book is positively addictive!!! I have been reading this with my Senior Infant Class and they just love it! Chicka Chicka Boom Boom introduces the the 26 letters of the alphabet in a vivid, rhythmic and rhyming manner. The lowercase letters of the alphabet all scramble to climb up the coconut tree then they fall (chicka chicka boom boom!!!). Their “parents” (the uppercase letters) come to their rescue and we survey their injuries. Some letters are badly injured in this adventure such as Black-eyed P and Stub-toed E!

The illustrations of each letter are big and bold allowing even the youngest child to follow the story. The letters are nicely spaced and on a white background allowing them to stand out clearly. The rhythm and rhyme allows children to memorize the story and to join in “reading”. If you read this often, as I am sure you will, your child will quickly and effortlessly learn to recognise and name the lowercase letters of the alphabet.

Top tip: point to the letters in the illustration rather than the story itself as you recite the story to encourage alphabetic learning 🙂 Chicka Chicka Boom Boom can be purchased in Board Book format for tiny hands and in Paperback also. The ISBN details for the board book are as follows:

  • ISBN-10: 141699999X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416999997

The ISBN details for the paper back are as follows:

  • ISBN-10: 0590438891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590438896

Both books are available on Amazon or ask your local book shop to order one for you. It will be the best money you spend. Promise!!! 😉 This book is my next favorite alphabet book. I just love, love Dr. Seuss! This book is fantastic for introducing both capital and lowercase letters. I would recommend it for a slightly older child even though it does come in a Board Book format. It has all the whacky, zanny characters that you would expect from Dr. Seuss from Auntie Alligator to Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz The ISBN details for the Paper Back Book format are as follows:

  • ISBN-10: 0007158483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007173693

I hope that you find this article useful. Perhaps Santa might bring one of these books to your little one. This book is on my Christmas wish list: Eating the Alphabet Explores lot of common and not so common fruit and vegetables in alphabetic order. This book is sure to be the source of lots of discussion and a great way to increase your child’s vocabulary.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂