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Shaping Brains for Thinking and Learning in the Early Years.


Spencer started the ICRWY Pre-School Pilot with Miss Emma in part due to speech and language difficulties. 
He starts school next year and is confidently reading Yellow Code Level readers with independence and is therefore now able to tackle non Code Level readers - using decoding as the primary strategy, but also effectively using other cues when needed.

See first 8 weeks here to see how far travelled 

Speech Sound Monsters are phonetic symbols for kids. They do not link with letters, as letters only represent speech sounds when in a word. They were initially used with my non verbal students so that they could let me know the speech sounds they could hear, or wanted to produce but couldn't. They also make speech sounds meaningful, as abstract concepts are difficult for younger children (and why most use letters from the beginning) Children learn to 'follow the monster sounds to say the word'. They have proven to be an effective way to engage learners and speed up the rate at which they develop phonemic awareness

Miss Emma, with the help of hundreds of Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach teachers discovered a correlation between phonics code level text reading and ability to read levelled readers using “context free” word reading skills (Stanovich, 1980). Also see research relating to authentic sight word reading (Ehri, 2005)


4. Invest in early learning. Many children are at risk for reading difficulties on the first day of school (Loeb & Bassok, 2007), due in large part to individual differences in knowledge of spoken language and the world it is used to communicate about (Muter, Hulme, Snowling, & Stevenson, 2004; Hoff, 2013). Increased translational research about what can be done in early learning contexts prior to the start of school will help fill in our knowledge of what we can do, when, and for which learners.

(Seidenberg et al) 

Phonetic Symbols for Kids


Do you manage an early years centre in the UK? Miss Emma would love to run sessions with your 2 - 4.5-year-olds, film their progress and use this to inform future research. Email

Miss Emma is also interested in undertaking a pilot with babies and toddlers. 


Are you a parent and would like to try this at home? Get the Code in a Box teaching kit and SSP Monster Mapping app (for ICRWY Lessons- Learn to Read and Spell in 100 Lessons online)

Shaping Brains for Thinking and Learning
- Educating Hearts and Minds. 


An anthropologist showed a game to the children of an African tribe ...

He placed a basket of delicious fruits near a tree trunk and told them: "The first child to reach the tree will get the basket."

When he gave them the start signal, he was surprised that they walked together, holding hands until they reached the tree and shared the fruit!

When he asked them why they did that when any one of them could have had the basket only for themselves!

They answered with astonishment: "Ubuntu"...that is, how can one of us be happy while the rest are miserable?

"Ubuntu" in their language means: "I am because we are".

That tribe knows the secret of happiness that has been lost in societies that consider themselves "civilized societies" ... !!

If you are as passionate about inclusion as we are, you will 'get this':-)
We teach reading and spelling as if we are all a community of learners, supporting one another. 

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