Learning Phonics the ABACARD® Way!

When I started homeschooling over 12 years ago, I used ABACARD® to teach phonics and early reading.

This system, created by © Shirley Epstein and other teachers and artists,  have designed picture clues within each letter shape.  This concept assists memory of the shape and sound of each letter.

“It works because the clue is contained in  the letter shape!”

When my young children showed signs of reading readiness, I put the wall chart on the wall near their beds.

I simply pointed to and read each letter in its phonic sound and named the picture inside it, such as: “a is for apple“, “b is for ball”  and “c is for colours” (using the phonic sound for each letter and not  “ay/ bee/see…”    Then they repeated the sounds and named the picture clue inside each letter.

Each day I revised the previous letters and continued with the next set.  Within 3 days or so, we had covered the alphabet.  At each bedtime and nap-time, we would run through the chart.

I was delighted to hear my young 4-year-old reading the chart aloud on her own to herself as she lay down for her midday nap after just a few days!

Then I took out our ABACARD® cards.

They come in a nifty hanging plastic holder with clear plastic pockets containing packs of 4 of each letter.  My kids loved the colourful jellytot sweets design on the back of these cards.

We revised the letters and then played games several fun games like “snap”, “memory” and “twin and win”.  The pack comes with a lovely instruction booklet.

Then we started building words with the cards. Taking just the letters p, t, b, g, and the vowels a, e, i, o and u we made the word bag. We swapped a and made beg, then big and bog and bug. Using this principle we made up lots of words – my child WAS READING!

When we moved on to early readers, we used these cards to make up the new vocabulary and played games until these new words were easy to read.

ABACARD® is an excellent tool for remedial work too.  Because each letter has a picture inside it, children are less likely to confuse letters!  It is great for kinesthetic learners because they can handle and move each letter.

Abacard are still busy creating their new website, but they can be contacted at Abacard@telkomsa.net or call them on South Africa 0861 67 22 22 or 083 463 7355

Please note:  I do not distribute, sell or receive any payment for endorsing their product.  

Blessings, Nadene

Remedial Games for b/d, p/q or t/f Reversals

Every now and then a young reader reverses b, d, p, q, t, f .

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Image by Wallula Junction via Flickr

Remedial games are a fun way to  teach basics,

reinforce concepts,

strengthen recognition and help improve  their confidence!

First, I used the letter chart.

We drew pictures over the letters to reinforce the visual picture of the shape and the sound of the letter.



visual clues to reinforce letter shapes


  • b looks like a bat with a ball stuck to its right side, so we made a cricket bat and a red cricket ball.
  • the d looks like a dog with its tail up behind him, start d by drawing a dog body then its tail going up
  • a t could hold a tea-cup with tea in its base, draw the tea-cup in the base
  • the f is like a sunflower with its flower head flopping over at the top to the right
  • a p is a pig with a pointy foot in a puddle and then its big pig body, so draw the long pointy foot first, then its fat round body.  The foot goes down into the puddle so it goes below the writing line.
  • q is for a queen so we draw a crown on her head, her train flowing behind her and the servant u always walks next to her to hold up her train and keep an umbrella (u for umbrella) over her head so she won’t get sunburnt.

I made a letter dice and flash cards for several games:


dice with laminated cards


~ throw dice and select correct letter card

~ throw dice and find word ending with that letter

~compare differences in similar words

~ play snap

~colour letter in with whiteboard marker (on laminated card)

In just a few weeks any confusion should clear up if you play these games for few minutes every day.

Download the 4 page remedial game pages here ~b,d,t,f recognition game

(There are plenty of other worksheets and ideas, so if you need any, leave a comment and I’ll try upload a few for you.)