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Using picture clues when in the early stages
of learning to read?

The Village With Three Corners
What's New For You? Orthographic Knowledge
One, Two, Three and Away! Used to boost orthographic Knowledge

The 1,2,3 and Away books are vital if children are to become independent readers before the end of year 1 - especially in the UK where only ‘decodable readers’ are used alongside explicit phonics instruction: the correspondences are too limiting, too many fail or it takes then years to read.

The children need to learn to ‘track back’ - phonological recoding- when they can’t ‘decode’ words as their phonics program doesn’t cover all correspondences. Eg they couldn’t ‘decode’ ‘village’ in term 2 of prep using a synthetic phonics program. They need to use context and this includes picture clues. They can then understand the mapping throughout the word - that they don’t learn within their phonics lessons. The /a/ just becomes another spelling choice they discovered for that same sound mapped to /i/ in the word. They are developing orthographic knowledge!

The reliance on context, as proposed by David Share’s Self-Teaching Hypothesis, encompasses various elements, including illustrations. In the process of learning to read, readers, especially in their early stages of literacy development, often encounter illustrated books. These illustrations provide essential visual context that aids in understanding the meaning of the text and decoding unfamiliar words.

When children read illustrated books, the combination of text and pictures allows them to make connections between the words on the page and the corresponding images. For example, if a story includes the word “orange” alongside an illustration of an orange cat, young readers can associate the written word with the visual representation, strengthening their understanding of the word. They may already know the /o/ /r/ /n/ /ge/ but the picture and their PA means they discovered the /a/ - if they had not already discovered it when working out ‘village’!

This reliance on both textual and visual context aligns with the concept of orthographic mapping, wherein readers create stable connections between the sounds and spellings of words. Through the interplay of illustrations and words, readers decipher unfamiliar words, enhancing their orthographic mapping abilities. As readers progress, they continue to utilise contextual cues, including illustrations, along with their growing orthographic knowledge, to comprehend and interpret the material they read. This integrated approach underscores the intricate relationship between orthographic mapping, the Self-Teaching Hypothesis, and the role of illustrations in literacy development.

It is quite bizarre that these theories are promoted and yet many within SoR groups ignore them when planning HOW to guide children.

Orthographic mapping and David Share's Self-Teaching Hypothesis are interconnected concepts in the field of literacy development. Orthographic mapping refers to the process by which readers connect the sounds in spoken words to their corresponding letters and recognize these words upon encountering them again (Share, 1995). It involves forming stable and automatic connections between the phonological (sound-based) and orthographic (spelling-based) representations of words, leading to improved word recognition skills (Ehri, 2014).

David Share's Self-Teaching Hypothesis, on the other hand, proposes that during reading, individuals develop their orthographic representations of words by relying on context and their own attempts to decode unfamiliar words (Share, 1995). According to this hypothesis, encountering words in context allows readers to deduce the meanings and pronunciations of unfamiliar words by using their existing knowledge of word structures and relationships, which in turn strengthens their orthographic representations.

The relationship between orthographic mapping and Share's Self-Teaching Hypothesis lies in the way readers learn new words. When readers engage in the process of orthographic mapping, they are essentially forming the kind of strong, contextually grounded orthographic representations that Share's hypothesis suggests. Through exposure to words in context, readers decipher the phonological and orthographic features of unfamiliar words, contributing to their orthographic mapping abilities.

In summary, orthographic mapping and Share's Self-Teaching Hypothesis are complementary concepts. Orthographic mapping is the cognitive process through which readers create stable connections between the sounds and spellings of words, while Share's hypothesis explains how readers use context and their evolving orthographic knowledge to decipher unfamiliar words during reading. Together, these concepts provide insights into the mechanisms underlying literacy development and word learning.


We boost all this with our interventions - 3 activities, 45 mins, any grade. - doesn’t matter what phonics program you’re using as we focus on the stuff NOT covered in those


Miss Emma x




How the Red-hats came to the Village With Three Corners
How the Blue-hats came to the Village With Three Corners
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