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Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Learning Center Newsletter
Issue 6 - June, 2011
You can sometimes make words using the letters in a larger word. For example, from the word "tube" you can make "be," "bet," "but," and "tub." Now onto a harder one: how many words can you make from the word "summer?" (Hint: we found 18.)

Riddles for Kids: Crazy Critters
Q: What animal never tells the truth?
A: A lion!

Q: Why are elephants poor?
A: Because they work for peanuts!

Q: Where did the tiger go when he lost his tail?
A: To a re-tail store!

Q: What do you get when you cross a pony with a bird?
A: A horse fly!

Q: What did the frog order from the drive-through?
A: Flies and a croak!

Q: What game do cows play at a party?
A: Moosical chairs!

Q: What's three stories tall and moves at 15 miles per hour through the jungle?
A: A giraffe on rollerskates!

Q: Why did it take the elephant so long to get on the airplane?
A: Because he had to check his trunk!

Q: What is smarter than a hummingbird?
A: A spelling bee!

Q: What do you call a camel?
A: A humpback wail!

Answers to WordsInWords
Emu, emus, me, mum, mums, muse, rue, rues, rum, rums, ruse, serum, sue, sum, sure, us, use, user.

In This Issue

  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened in May?
  • Multisensory Approaches to Teaching Decoding: What Does That Mean?
  • Development of Conversational Skills
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in June!

In Upcoming Issues

  • Links to Literacy: Websites You Can Use with Your Child
  • What is the connection between word retrieval (language) and reading (literacy)?
  • What is the connection between auditory processing disorder (language) and reading (literacy)?
  • Home Treatment for Language Delayed Kids
  • Testing Procedures for Speech, Language, and Reading Disorders

Summer Programs

You may be interested in our 2011 Summer Speech Camp and Summer Reading Program. Click here to view and print out the registration form.

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Our ongoing goal is to keep you informed about all matters related to the Communication Continuum: Speech, Language, and Literacy; to keep you updated on our seminars and other matters of interest; to answer questions you may have, and also provide some fun activities for your child, created by us, by colleagues, as well as syndicated content.


Please submit any questions you have regarding Speech, Language, and Literacy, and we'll be happy to reply in an upcoming issue of CC-News. If you do submit a question (to news@parkslopecc.com), be sure to let us know if you'd like your name (first and/or last) to appear, or if you'd prefer it left out.


In the past, we've held seminars and discussions on: Stuttering, Auditory Processing Disorders, How to Help Your Child Develop Reading Skills, Early Speech and Language Development (0 - 5), Speech/Language/Feeding Developmental Milestones, Using the Phonic Engine® Reading Method to Facilitate Reading, Writing, and Spelling. Please let us know if you'd personally like any of these repeated, or have other topics that you'd like to hear about.

Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Method & KidsVoyager Online: May, 2011

As some of you may know (we mention this in each issue, as it may be your first), we utilize our Phonic Engine® Reading Method, and its accompanying software, KidsVoyager® Online — which may be used at home as well as at our center — to help children catch up with, or enrich, their reading skills. The lives of many children we have worked with have been turned around using this method. In each issue of CC-News, we will be highlighting activities and successes from the previous month, with the intention of informing, and promoting this novel, transformative approach to the teaching of language arts which, we believe, can have a highly positive effect on children well beyond this practice. If any reader knows of a school or practice in a disadvantaged area, where the practitioners are dedicated, and willing to learn, we are more than happy to work with them at no cost.

(We are, by the way, trying to make the Phonic Engine Reading Method more widely available, and are preparing a "white paper" for that purpose. If you're interested, you can view a draft of this paper. It describes the technology in depth, discusses reading techniques in general, and provides links to some of the enabling patented methods which have helped so many of the children we have worked with.)

Some of the children who attend our reading program, and who had started 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, were having a difficult time with the vocabulary. Since Jules Verne studied ichthyology as a hobby, some of his language is very difficult. The children found themselves looking up so many words that they were losing the thread of the story, despite the fact that they had been enjoying it. So while some of the kids stuck with it, other kids started a new story, available online: King Arthur and His Knights by Maude Radford Warren, which may be found at http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=warren&book=arthur&story=_contents.

The first chapter, "How Arthur Became King," deals with a young lad named Arthur, who somehow managed to pull "the sword from the stone," making him the king of the land. What follows is a very exciting adventure about how others do not accept him, how Arthur claims and hangs on to his title, the knights of the Round Table, and how he meets and marries the Princess Guinevere.

The students are learning rather interesting vocabulary words and concepts from this story. Some of these words include stalwart, surmount and scabbard. The book is also giving the students reading it a view into politics, much of which applies to politics today.

In Chapter 3, "The Great Feast And What Followed," for example, young Arthur decided to invite everyone to a lavish feast, during which every kind of meat (rabbit stewed in sweet sauce, swans, cranes, etc.) was served. He incorrectly believed that this was a way to find out who his true friends were: he naively assumed that whoever came would be a friend.

Much to his dismay, he was wrong and, sadly, he began learning about deception and falseness. One of the children in the group mentioned the concept of "keeping friends close and enemies closer," so you know what they are doing.

This story, which the children are reading at their own pace, is full of interesting characters, action and adventure, and the pictures provide extra stimuli in terms of what is happening in this very thrilling story. Reading the story with KidsVoyager Online facilitates reading fluency, word recognition, and reading comprehension, as Merlin, the text reader reads to the children. One boy, on finishing a chapter, asked "permission" to read the next one!!

In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, we have learned more about Captain Nemo and his avoidance of land. His prisoners have taken an exciting walk in an underground island. They also have an nerve rattling interaction with a shark, and toward the end of that chapter, the prisoners get a chance to walk on real land.

The younger students are reading short stories at websites such as BAB Books (http://www.sundhagen.com/babbooks). They read a story called Lizzy the Lion Cub. In this story, Lizzie wants a mane like her brothers have. She tries many ways to produce a mane and finally glues ostrich feathers to her head. After a while the feathers get knotted and dirty and muddy, and just downright uncomfortable. Finally, she pulls them off while she is swimming, and she is happy to be herself again. The message, was clear, "be happy with who you are and what you have," and the kids understood the lesson.

All in all, we had a great month, learned a lot and had a lot of fun!

Multisensory Approaches to Teaching Decoding: What Does That Mean?

If you use an Internet search engine, such as Google, and type in the words "multisensory learning advantages" (without the quotes), you will find more than a million results. Multisensory learning helps us to learn things more quickly, more deeply, and in a longer lasting way. Many know this, and see it as rather obvious: the more sensory pathways that are used in learning something, the more it will "stick." This is not new news.

Albert Einstein certainly knew this. He once said "All true learning is experiencing. Everything else is just information." In Louis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the Dodo said "the best way to explain it is do it." And in 1451 BC, Confucius said "What I hear I forget, what I see I remember, what I do I understand."

Well, now there are neurological studies that show what many have known for thousands of years.

While extremely useful for all, it's especially helpful, even critical, for children having a difficult time acquiring literacy skills. In some cases, as we have seen first hand, it can mean the difference between failure and success.

When children are taught to read in a classroom, they are typically presented with graphemes (letters) and the sounds they make. However, when children are having a hard time acquiring literacy skills, it is common these days that remediation involves either increasing these stimuli or adding new ones. For example, tactile and kinesthetic stimuli may be utilized as well as visual and auditory ones to help a child make the connection between letters and sounds, and how we blend these sounds into words.

One commonly used approach, and one which we utilize, when appropriate, in conjunction with KidsVoyager Online and our Phonic Engine Reading Method, is the Orton-Gillingham Approach, which was was developed by Dr. Samuel Orton, a neurologist and psychiatrist, and Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist. Through repetition, children are taught to link the letter and the sound it makes. The teacher will hold up a letter card and say the name of the letter, a word with that sound, and then the sound alone. For example, the sequence might sound like "s –sun-sssss," and then the class, or the group, or the child repeats it.

Tactile and kinesthetic cues come into play when children write a word with crayon, with paper being placed on top of a plastic screen. The screen plus the crayon creates bumps on the paper, providing the child a tactile cue, and the writing of the letter provides a kinesthetic cue. They hear it, see it and feel it, as they move their fingers over the letters they have written. Additionally, when practicing spelling, children spell the word out loud as they 'write' it in the air. This provides auditory and visual stimuli paired with kinesthetic cues.

The children feel, through big movements in the air, what it feels like to write the target words. The children also write sight words multiple times, with the notion that the repetition of the written word will facilitate the memory of what the word looks like. In the Phonic Engine Method, tactile and kinesthetic cues come into play when children use mouse movements for a variety of activities, and when they think of and experience the lips, tongue and soft palate movements (by speaking it out loud or it to themselves) involved in the sounding out of the beginning and ending sounds that comprise the first step used to encode words.

The website, Dyslexia Online, has a wonderful example of multisensory teaching in order to help a child discriminate between the letters 'b' and 'd', a very commonly seen mistake:

"A teacher might give the child a tactile experience of the letter 'b' by getting the child to draw the letter really large on the carpet. This will involve the child using their arms, their sense of balance, their whole body. They will remember the day their teacher had them 'writing' on the carpet with their hand making this great big shape, and can use that memory the next time they come to write the letter. Some teachers purchase letters made out of sandpaper so that the children can run their fingers over the letter 'b', giving them a strong tactile memory."

A multisensory approach helps children who have visual processing deficits, auditory processing deficits or both, acquire the ability to decode words, recognize and spell sight words and develop a clear and consistent orthographic image of words for both reading and writing. We accomplish this in our reading sessions by using Phonic Engine Reading and Phonic Engine Spelling. Our students begin to develop clear and consistent word knowledge and phonemic awareness. They hear words while they see them and they have access to unlimited repetition whether reading or writing, so they can more readily learn to self-monitor their decoding and encoding abilities.

Development of Conversational Skills

The development of conversational skills is a very interesting topic because it's not only what you see and hear on the outside, but what's happening on the inside that is most significant.

When children are very little, we call their language egocentric. This is not meant to be a value judgment, but a statement of fact. Young children (that is, under 3 years of age, approximately ) do not typically take the part of the listener, and neither do they understand what the listener needs to know in order to make sense of what they are talking about.

It's not unusual to hear a 2 year old say something like, "She took away my water gun," and it appears to come out of the blue. The parent then has a chat with the child and finds out that he took his water gun to nursery school, and that his teacher took it away until the end of the school day. At this stage of development, the child doesn't consider the fact that the parent doesn't know that the child is referring to his teacher, or that the child took his water gun to school.

So, if you have a child under the age of 3, you as the parent may find yourself in the role of detective. You may have to ask many questions in order to find out what your child is referring to. To encourage conversational skills development, inform your child what he or she should be saying or doing to provide context, such as (kindly, of course), "Honey, remember to tell mommy that you are talking about your school day." Also, model good conversation by providing context so that your child can understand you, perhaps, even, in a rather obvious way.

Let's think about what happens during conversation. Questions are asked and answered. Topics are initiated and maintained. We expect there to be eye contact. Finally, we expect that when one member of the conversational dyad is going to change the subject, that person will signal it verbally. Here is a for-instance of a conversation that might occur between a parent and a 6 year old with age-appropriate conversational skills: Speaker #1: "How was school today?" Speaker #2 "It was okay." Speaker #1 "What did you play with?" Speaker #2 "I played with the new Lego set." Speaker #2 (again): "Oh mom, I forgot to tell you (this is the signal of a topic change), I need $2.00 for a class trip next week and also can I have a sleepover at Kristy's next Friday?" Here the speakers are parent and child. After a couple of conversational turns, the child signals a change of topic by saying "Oh I forgot to tell you."

Conversational skills develop at around the age of three years, and keep developing and becoming more sophisticated. Conversation is not just words, it is also facial expression, vocal inflection, and even body language. We can help our children become good conversationalists by modeling behaviors such as: making eye contact; staying on topic; signaling a topic change when we are making one; and being able to take the part of the listener by clearly providing information that the listener needs to know in order to understand what is being said. Conversational skills are the basis for how we interact with others and our abilities will affect many aspects of our lives, even through adulthood.

Trivia Quiz: Flowing Like a River.

June is National Rivers Month. To help you celebrate we've put together a trivia quiz to test your river knowledge.

1. True or False: All snakes have teeth.
2. How many teeth will an average shark grow during its lifetime?
3. Before there were dentists, what profession was responsible for curing aching teeth?
4. The first patent for chewing gum was granted to Dr. William F. Semple, a dentist, in what year?
5. The first dental chair was designed in 1790 by the first native-born dentist of which country?
6. In 1937 toothbrushes began to be manufactured with what material?
7. In World War II American Army soldiers were for the first time ordered to do what to their teeth?
8. How many types of toothbrushes have been patented to date worldwide?
9. How many miles of dental floss do Americans purchase each year?
10. True or false: Animals rarely get cavities.


1. Mekong River.
2. The Rhine River.
3. Zambezi River.
4. Tennessee.
5. The Nile River.
6. The Gulf of Mexico.
7. The Amazon.
8. True.
9. False.
10. The Volga.

June 2011 Holidays and Events

Adopt a Shelter Cat Month
Audiobook Appreciation Month
Cancer from the Sun Month
Child Vision Awareness Month
Children's Awareness Month
Dairy Alternatives Month
Effective Communications Month
Entrepreneurs "Do It Yourself" Marketing Month
Great Outdoors Month
International Childhood Cancer Campaign Month
International Men's Month
International Surf Music Month
June Dairy Month
National Caribbean-American Heritage Month
National Accordion Awareness Month
National Aphasia Awareness Month
National Bathroom Reading Month
National Camping Month
National Candy Month
National Iced Tea Month
National Rivers Month
National Rose Month
National Safety Month
National Soul Food Month
National Steakhouse Month
Perennial Gardening Month
Pharmacists Declare War on Alcoholism Month
Professional Wellness Month
Rebuild Your Life Month
Skyscraper Month
Sports America Kids Month
Student Safety Month
Vision Research Month

4-11 International Clothesline Week
5-11 National Headache Awareness Week
6-12 National Automotive Service Professionals Week
6-12 National Business Etiquette Week
12-18 National Flag Week
16-23 National Nursing Assistants Week
19-25 Carpenter Ant Awareness Week
19-25 Meet a Mate Week

1 National Barefoot Day
1 Say Something Nice Day
2 National Bubba Day
2 National Leave the Office Earlier Day
3 Chimborazo Day
4 National Trails Day
4 International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
5 Children's Awareness Memorial Day
5 National Cancer Survivors Day
5 World Environment Day
8 World Oceans Day
8 Upsy Daisy Day
12 Abused Women and Childrens Awareness Day
12 Crowded Nest Awareness Day
12 Multicultural American Child Awareness Day
14 Family History Day
14 Flag Day
15 Native American Citizenship Day
15 Nature Photography Day
16 National Nursing Assistants Day
16 Recess at Work Day
17 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
17 Work at Home Father's Day
18 International Sushi Day
18 World Juggling Day
19 Family Awareness Day
19 Father's Day
19 Husband Caregiver Day
19 Juneteenth
19 World Sauntering Day
20 World Refugee Day
21 Baby Boomers Recognition Day
21 Go Skateboarding Day
21 National Daylight Appreciation Day
22 Stupid Guy Thing Day
23 Let It Go Day
23 Public Service Day
24 Celebration of the Senses
24 Take Your Dog to Work Day
26 America's Kids Day
26 Descendants Day
26 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
26 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
27 Decide to Be Married Day
28 National Columnists' Day
30 National Bomb Pop Day
30 National Handshake Day>

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