Fun with Phonics

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 July, 2011, 12:00am


As the mother of a three-year-old who is allowed no television time at all, I was sceptical of this product but decided to give it a try. I was in for a surprise. Who knew teaching your child phonics could be this much fun?

Developed for four- to six-year olds, BBC Words and Pictures: Fun with Phonics is a multi-sensory programme that helps children learn English through the use of phonics. Phonics is a method of teaching English reading to children by first introducing the letter sounds and then building up and combining these sounds to pronounce whole words.

The bulky pack comprises a set of 44 books, each focusing on a different phoneme, as well as interactive DVDs and CDs, flash cards and a Talking Pen. While it may seem to weigh a tonne, the beautifully illustrated resource is packed with sounds, stories, animation and games for children, and is designed to be used over three years.

Children will love exploring the bright, colourful videos, charts and flashcards, while developing their skills at distinguishing different sounds. But without a doubt, it's the friendly Talking Pen that they will find most fascinating. It's a great way to pique your child's interest. Youngsters can use them to listen to phoneme sounds and record their own versions.

But this magic pen is more than just a recorder. Use the tip of the pen to touch the text in the books or flashcards and the words will be read out loud. My son loved running the pen over the pages and hearing them come to life with fantastic narrations. You can even download and play your own music on the pen.

Each book and DVD tells stories introducing the focus phoneme in words, phrases and then sentences.

The stories, featuring fun animal characters such as Paddy-Pat the tabby cat and Tig the dog, progress from simple to complex, with three-, four- and five phoneme words introduced gradually. Over time, 'tricky' words - such as those that are phonically irregular and cannot be easily pronounced - are introduced. With regular practice, every child can become a fluent reader and writer.

You can even chart your child's progress as the books and DVDs come with questions for comprehension and activity sheets. The author and editor of the series is British advanced skills teacher Trudy Wainwright, whose book for teachers in the pack gives advice on planning lessons.

From improving pronunciation to building vocabulary and mastering the 44 phonemes of the English language, Words and Pictures: Fun with Phonics is a great way to stimulate your child's language skills.

While I still think limiting television time for children is important, letting them spend a little time with Paddy-Pat won't hurt.

Verdict: structured, easy to use and fun.

Fun with Phonics; produced by BBC Active and Pearson, discounted price HK$4,990 during the Hong Kong Book Fair (which ends on Tuesday, Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, Hall 3, D-D02), and at selected bookstores after the fair. Inquiries: 3181 0123. More information is also available at