Phonics based whole word cards by A.P.P. – step by step instructions

by Alenka

I’m going against the Doman grain here, but my own method did involve constantly “testing” the young reader, in a way. We began at age 22 months, and he was able to pronounce all of the (simple) words on the cards. So I was not just showing the cards. But it wasn’t as brutal as it may sound. We took it in stages and I was gentle every step of the way. Also, background: I went whole card set by whole card set, rather than adding new individual cards and retiring old.

Download A.P.P. flashcards with phonetically grouped words and their illustrations
Step by step directions for using these cards
Flesch’s Instructions [how to teach children to read using phonics]
More information about these cards
Amazing Power point presentations on every possible subject by A.P.P.!

1. First time through the card set, I didn’t ask him to say anything. I just read the word (while running my finger under it); then pronounced each letter slowly and clearly (“kkk–aaa–tt”); then a little faster; then put the whole thing together. Then I turned over the card and gave my boy the card, and talked about the picture. Sometimes, if the word was new, I would try to explain the meaning of the word in as simple terms as possible.  Words I felt I couldn’t explain, I didn’t use.

2. Second time through the card set, I would begin by doing the slow-sounding-out thing. Then I would maybe speed up a little. *Then* Iwould ask: what is it? And then he would get it, almost every time. After doing this several times, he would get the “game.” If he ever had any trouble with a word, I would, *of course, *simply read it for him.

3. The next few times through the cards, sometimes I would ask *him *to sound out the word, but he wasn’t as interested in this. He would usually just read the word right away, or else wait for me to sound it out. But after repeated instances of me sounding it out slowly and carefully, I think he got the idea.

4. After he was reading all of the cards in a set without mistake or much of a pause, we’d move on to the next set.

5. I taught him to say “that’s enough.” If he said “that’s enough” when we were doing cards, we would stop instantly and not do any more that day. If he seemed reluctant for a few days in a row, we’d take break for a week or so. If after a week or so we came back to cards and he still wasn’t interested, we’d take another break for a few weeks. Then we’d come back to them and he’d be all interested again. I can’t expect it would work that way with everyone, but it worked that way for us–go figure.

6. After a couple months (or 10 sets or so), I don’t think I sounded out the words much at all after the first time through a set. I would sound out the words the first time and after that he’d be able to figure it out himself. Sometimes he would stare at a word without saying anything for a while, then he’d just come out with it. I think he was sounding it out in his head. He now reads silently–very fast, as far as I can tell. I watch him reading books, over his shoulder, and I look at his eyes moving over the page. I obviously can’t tell if he’s catching all of the words, but the eyes are going back and forth very quickly and moving down the page quickly.

7. After a few more months (by the time we were sets 20-30 or so) I almost never had to sound out words in advance. I would just explain the new rule, maybe give an example or two, and then he would just read the new words perfectly the first time. But we kept doing the cards anyway, to solidify his phonetic understanding. I was glad we did.

8. We rather gradually tapered off using cards. The last time I was regularly making new cards was last summer, a little over a year after we started. Since then I did make one set of cards but I felt rather silly doing it, because he knew the words perfectly well–it was pretty pointless. So that’s why I’m not going to be able to go over all of Flesch’s word lists, I’m afraid. If someone else wants to finish my work, I’ll be happy to upload it to the Mediafire space.

I’ll finally sit down this evening and upload the rest of my cards…some of them I’ve been sitting on for maybe a year…there are now 42 sets in all.

Frankly, the whole process was pretty painless, and I recommend it. I hope the step-by-step instructions above make it more plausible, if you’ve had doubts. If your child is old enough (obviously, this can’t be done with kids whose mouths/voices can’t make the sounds) and you don’t have any philosophical objections, try it and see if you have similar luck. Of course, your mileage may vary. I’d be curious to hear if anyone had an experience similar to ours, though. My wife, who witnessed the whole process, was totally convinced that it was my cards, more than YBCR or anything else, that taught our son to read. I agree.

We just finished *re-*reading *Pinocchio* this evening,* *not at all an easy book for a 3-year-old, and he read most of the last page by himself, pretty quickly, with excellent intonation, even making the character voices and everything. I think he’s sounding out words (not necessarily understanding–that’s harder to measure) at about the fifth grade level.

How many times a day did we watch these cards?

I’m actually not sure how many times a day we did cards in the first several
months. I’m racking my brain here…I think we often did it 2-3 times a
day, we’d make a quick pass through the cards among other things, it usually
didn’t take long to go through them, so we could do that and other things
like read a picture book or two. But if he said “no” to the cards or
“that’s enough,” I believe we put them away for the rest of the day.

Later on (like when he was on set 20), I’m very sure we were doing cards
just once a day, and later, even less often than that. He gradually got
tired of them but by then he really didn’t need them.

Latest videos, which I’m not sure I posted on this list:




  1. amy choate

    I just found this site and love it! However after downloading about 20 something ppt’s I can only open Chemistry 3, no other files will open with my powerpoint 2007….. Any ideas????

  2. Alenka Post author

    Wow, I was searching for these videos all over youtube, but apparently they are private. I can access them only from the link from my email. They are truly inspirational: in one A.P.P.’s 3 year old son is reading Curious George, easily, effortlessly, just like any adult would. The second one is mind blowing – he is reading the Constitution, the Bill Of Rights. I guess, you can view them if you sign up with TeachYourBabyToRead yahoo group, just search the archives for posts by A. Person, “The latest from my little boy”. If you are still having problems, you can probably ask Laurie, the moderator of the group, how you can get the permission to review those videos, or ask A.P.P. through the group to share it again.