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Casey Mulligan Walsh, M.S., CCC-SLP
Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist
Brittonkill Central Schools

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From the development of emergent literacy skills in very young children, to the refinement of accurate and fluent decoding, concrete and abstract comprehension, and effective writing skills in later elementary and secondary school, the importance of literacy cannot be underemphasized.  Nothing is more predictive of later success, both in and out of school. 


As literacy skills emerge, oral and written language are closely intertwined.  School-based therapy to address oral language delays and disorders is often conducted in conjunction with reading and writing activities, as the interaction between the two forms of communication is well-documented.  For example, increased awareness and understanding of how sounds and letters relate to one another can have reciprocal effects on a child's articulation skills.  As children develop awareness of print and begin to read and write, much of their new vocabulary is acquired through reading.  Written language is more complex than spoken language, so that children who read more develop more sophisticated language skills in all domains.


Phonological Awareness includes the awareness that sentences are made up of words, words are comprised of syllables, syllables can be broken down into component sounds, and those sounds can be manipulated in a variety of ways.  Rhyming, saying words that begin with the same sound, changing one sound in a word to make a new word, and blending parts of words to make a whole word are all phonological awareness skills.  Although phonological awareness is not the only ingredient necessary for early reading and spelling, it is highly related to early success in these areas; a lack of ability to manipulate phonemes in words makes it difficult to learn the correspondence between letters and speech sounds, to blend sounds into words, and to perform other critical language-related tasks. 


Animated Literacy, a program developed by Jim Stone (see link below), includes as one component the use of gross motor gestures in helping children learning sound/symbol correspondence to bridge the gap between the abstract sound and the visual representation of the letter.  With a few minor changes and additions to the original set, gestures have been developed at Tamarac Elementary School for every sound in the language, from the basic consonants and short vowels to r-controlled vowels, vowel teams, long vowels, and so on.  We have found these gestures extremely effective in helping students make the leap from speech to print and employ them in selected classrooms from kindergarten through middle school.  A list of the gestures and the corresponding sounds and spellings is provided for your practice at home. 


An informational sheet (in pdf format) that outlines strategies all good readers use and includes visual cues for students is provided for use by parents and educators who are interested in helping children become more effective and efficient readers.


A second informational sheet (in pdf format) that defines a number of comprehension strategies and includes questions to ask students in order to facilitate the use of these strategies is provided here for use by parents and teachers

Below are links to websites that provide further information, materials, and activities regarding the development and continued strengthening of literacy skills.  Also check out a number of sites for your children to use that support literacy development in fun, engaging ways at the "Cool Websites for Kids" link at the bottom of each page.   Click on "Literacy Games."


Animated Literacy
This program introduces each of the sounds, letters, and spelling patterns used to read and write in English through 45 Animated-Alphabet characters
Beyond Baby Talk
Apel, K., & Masterson, J. (2001). Beyond baby talk.  Roseville, CA:      
        Prima Publishing.
Description and Purchase Information
Covers the stages of speech and language development for infants, babies, toddlers and preschoolers and discusses setting preschoolers on the right path for reading and writing development
Creative Communicating
A site dedicated to sharing, publishing and distributing materials that focus on building early language, communication and emergent literacy skills for young children with disabilities
Creative Communicating Links Page
Links to sites that focus on building emergent literacy skills for children with disabilities

Get Ready to Read!
A national campaign to build the early literacy skills of preschool children by the National Center for Learning Disabilities.  Take the screening tool with your 4-year-old!  This site also includes a wealth of activities to promote emergent literacy.
Great Web Sites for Kids
Links to favorite children's stories and their websites

Helping Your Child Learn to Read
Ten easy tips to improve your child's reading skills

International Reading Association
Official website of the International Reading Association, providing information and resources for literacy professionals


Internet for Classrooms
Links to a number of user-friendly online alphabet games


The Literacy Web at the University of Connecticut
Provides literacy resources for Preschool through Grade 12, ESL, and special needs students, as well as Adult Ed., Higher Ed., and Pre-Service teachers
Math Literature
Lists of trade books that integrate such math concepts as counting/number sense, addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, fractions, money, time, measurement, patterns, and calendar skills
Preschool Fingerplays, Action Poems, Nursery Rhymes, and Songs
Preschoolers develop memory, articulation, phonological awareness, and language skills as they sing and recite the songs and poems in this collection
Phonemic Awareness Resources for Teachers
Provides teachers with a foundation of phonemic awareness, its importance to reading, spelling, and writing ability, and a wealth of useful activities
Phonemic Awareness Resources for Teachers
Provides teachers with a foundation of phonemic awareness, its importance to reading, spelling, and writing ability, and a wealth of useful activities
Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening
Activities to increase phonological awareness and literacy skills, together with additional resources, offered by the University of Virginia
Qualitative Reading Inventory - 4th  Edition (QRI-4)
Description and Purchase Information
Based on the latest reading research, this comprehensive inventory effectively assesses reading ability at emergent though high school levels and measures word identification, fluency, and comprehension
Read With Me! Strategies
A summary of the six basic interactive reading strategies that make up Read With Me! Stress-Free Strategies for Building Language and LIteracy (Thinking Publications)
Read With Me! Workshop Handouts
Handouts from the ASHA 2003 convention training presented by Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP: Engaging Parents As Partners In Building Language and Literacy
Reading Online
Website provided by International Reading Association offering hundreds of articles on a range of topics in reading education.
Reading Rockets
A national multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help, funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education
Reading Rockets for Speech Pathologists
Resources especially chosen to support the professional efforts of speech-language pathologists and their vital role in building children's literacy
Resources for Teaching Word Families
An explanation of word families, their importance in teaching reading, and links to other webpages and resources

Straight Talk About Reading
Hall, S. L. & Moats, L. C. (1999). Straight talk about reading. Chicago:
         Contemporary Books.
Description and Purchase Information

Super Duper Handy Handouts
Informational newsletters for speech-language pathologists, special educators, teachers, and parents on topics including phonological processes, stuttering, nonverbal learning disorder, and literacy skills
Target the Problem
An online tool to help parents and classroom teachers understand the specific problems a child may be having with reading, including practical suggestions on what you (and kids themselves) can do to help students overcome or deal with their reading difficulties
Webbing Into Literacy
A downloadable program designed to provide rural Head Start teachers with materials and instruction that will launch America's young children on successful academic careers
Wilson Language Training
Dedicated to providing the teaching community with the resources needed to help students become fluent, independent readers

Word Families in Nursery Rhymes
Lists the most common word families and which are used in listed nursery rhymes


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Link to Cool Sites for Kids

Contact Mrs. Walsh at:

Brittonkill Central Schools / Tamarac Elementary School 

3992 NY 2
Troy, NY 12180

518.279.4600 x

©1997-2007 Brittonkill Central Schools
3992 NY  2, Troy, NY 12180