Zest brings rhyme to life;Literacy resources round-up

25th September 1998 at 01:00
Nicholas Bielby reviews a global approach to the new phonics

Rhyme World. Starter Pack 1 Heinemann pound;130. Starter Pack 2 pound;110.

I have been looking forward to Rhyme World, not just because I was a consultant in its early stages, but because of it is pivotal place in Heinemann's ambitious Worlds programme. It deals with teaching the new phonics and the literacy hour.

Stage One deals with pre-reading phonological and alphabetic skills, and is as suitable for five-year-olds as for nursery pupils. Using large-format flip-books, it deals with rhythm and rhyme through traditional nursery and custom-written rhymes - the front face shows pupils a big picture and the back shows the teacher the rhyme and notes. While the Teacher's Guide contains some bloomers (rime is a phonological, not a spelling, concept; rhythm in English is not simply a matter of syllables, but of stress overlying the syllables), the support is detailed and appropriate.

A second strand, Alliteration and the Alphabet, runs largely in parallel. Again, the main resource is a large flip-book, with a section of pictures for alliterative exploration and an alphabet section. Supporting the alphabet work is a pack of letter books, each has its letter embossed front and back, a page of vari-coloured versions of the letter in various type-faces, and rhymes and pictures to help the child explore letter shapes, names and sounds. The Teacher's Guide has copiable work-sheets to support individual learning.

Stages Two and Three, aimed at Reception, develop work on onset and rime (the part of a single syllable word before the vowel, and the rest, as in c-at) and ways of looking at printed words in these terms. Stage Two provides two big books of rhyming stories and a pack of small books, one for each story, for group and individual reading. The small books have split-pages, so a single rime, like -et, is printed on the last page, with the onset letters on the cut-off pages. Turning the page splits the word into onset and rime, and reveals a new onset to make a new word (v-et, j-et). This format draws attention to the repeated letter-patterns of the rimes. Copiable work-sheets, work-books, and suggested games and activities support these phonic perceptions about sounds and spellings.

The Stage Three books contain longer stories in rhyming couplets, some written with a zest reminiscent of Hilaire Belloc or Roald Dahl. Rhyme World is fun. It develops a positive approach to phonics through phonological awareness and provides good teacher support - especially in relation to approaching the many demands of the literacy hour.

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