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Reading for Children

Let's Make Reading Fun!

July 19, 2010

Sound Stop!

In this entry, another activity that will hopefully help you to mix up and add some variety to your students' reading activities while focusing on a particular area of their reading.

This activity is again, a very simple one, however, works very well for reading time in our school and one that students enjoy. Today's activity is called 'Sound Stop!'.

We use 'Sound Stop!' to help our students practice and focus on reading a particular double phonic when reading stories (for example 'sh' as in ship, 'ch' as in chicken, 'ea' as in seal etc.).
We use 'Fun Phonics Readers' as our readers for our elementary students and book 1 of Fun Phonics Readers has stories for each of the double phonics combinations from David Paul's 'Finding Out 1' text.

When reading a story for the purpose of practicing a certain phonic target, it's good to prepare students for the target. This can be done in many ways such as playing a game using the target phonic with students before reading. Additionally, the stories in Fun Phonics Readers containing double phonic targets emphasize the target by having it written at the top of the story, to make students aware of the target.

With 'Sound Stop!' students read by taking turns. When each student starts and stops reading is determined by the target phonic. When a student meets and reads a word containing the target phonic, they stop and the next student begins reading. This helps students to pay more attention to, and focus more on the target phonic. Students also enjoy the randomness of this activity. There may be situations where a student only reads a single word, as the first word that they meet and read may contain the target phonic. Equally the student may read a full sentence or more before they meet and read a word containing the target phonic.

To illustrate more clearly, if you refer to the picture below, whenever a student met and read the target phonic (circled in red for clear illustration. In this example, story 14 of Fun Phonics Readers book 1 contains the target 'sh' as in ship and 'ch' as in chicken) they stop reading and the next student starts.


Again, this is a very simple activity, but very effective and most importantly, an enjoyable one for our students.

I hope you find 'Sound Stop!' helpful and fun for your students.
Have fun reading,

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Looking at the vocabulary words in the story, I am wondering if the students know these words before reading the story. In the case that they do know them, and in the case that they don't, I would like to know how you deal with teaching the new words.

Do you set up time to teach the words?

Do you have flash cards for them?

Do you review them later?

Are the words recycled in later stories?

The sample story you used has lots of practice using sh/ch, which is great in getting students to more permanently remember the target. However, many of the books available have so many new words and grammar structures in them that the students haven't yet used it is like starting a whole new curriculum.

Do you have any suggestions for blending the main text book one uses with supplementary readers so that students can get more reading practice without being overwhelmed?

Hi Josh,

Firstly, thanks for the great question.

I agree completely with your point that "many of the books available have so many new words and grammar structures in them that the students haven't yet used it is like starting a whole new curriculum". I also think that this is a real problem when teaching children in particular. At our school we have a comprehensive reading program for our children, but over the years constantly encountered this very problem.

It was for this exact reason that we wrote the 'Fun Phonics Readers' series. Personally, I believe that children can get the most out of reading activities if the stories they read can complement and directly tie in with the language structures, vocabulary and phonics that they study in class from their coursebooks (my first post to this blog was called Readers that Complement Course Books and refers to exactly what you are asking about. You can view it here: In this situation stories can not only be used as a tool to increase students' fluency, but also a s a very powerful tool to review language and allow students' to see the language they are studying used in context.

Fun Phonics Readers is a series of readers that has been developed to complement David Paul's 'Finding Out' series of course books. Book 1 of the Finding Out series primarily focuses on phonics and developing students' reading and writing. Due to this, book 1 of Fun Phonics Readers primarily focuses on developing reading fluency and has been written specifically for this purpose. Because of this, students may be unfamiliar with a large number of words/structures in book 1. At our school however, we don't teach this vocab to students. Again, we use the book specifically for improving students' fluency.

From book 2 of Fun Phonics Readers, as language structures, vocabulary and phonics are introduced into book 2 of Finding Out, every story aligns with the language structures, vocabulary and phonics of Finding Out 2 (and the same situation applies with books 3 of each series).

This is the way we have been able to overcome the problems that you asked about in your comment. We are finding this to be very successful with our students'. We can now not only focus on fluency as we have for many years with our reading program, but also review and practice the language that we are studying in class.

If you wish to take a look at the language used in Fun Phonics Readers and how the language in the stories aligns with the Finding Out course books, please feel free to view the books online at: . Each book has an index at the beginning which outlines the Finding Out unit number that the story complements, word count, language target, and reviewed language.

Thanks again for your question and feel free to contact me again if you have more.

Have fun reading,



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