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Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Learning Center Newsletter
Issue 14 - February, 2012
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 "February?" (Hint: we found 42.)

Riddles for Kids: Elephant
Q: What do you call an elephant in a phone booth?
A: Stuck!

Q: Why did the elephant paint her toenails red?
A: So she could hide in a bowl of cherries!

Q: What is big and grey and has horns?
A: An elephant marching band!

Q: What goes down but never goes up?
A: An elephant in an elevator!

Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant with a parrot?
A: An animal that tells you everything it remembers!

Q: Why do elephants have wrinkles?
A: Have you ever tried to iron an elephant?

Q: What do a car, a tree, and an elephant have in common?
A: They all have a trunk!

Q: How do you hunt for elephants?
A: Hide in a bush and make a noise like a peanut!

Q: Why wouldn't the elephant use the computer?
A: Because it was afraid of the mouse!

Q: What is the same size as an elephant but weighs nothing?
A: An elephant's shadow!

Answers to WordsInWords
Are, aye, bar, bare, barf, bay, be, bear, beau, berry, bra, bray, burr, bury, buy, buyer, by, bye, ear, era, err, far, fare, fear, ferry, fray, fry, fryer, fur, furry, fury, rare, ray, rear, rebury, ref, refry, rub, ruby, rue, yea, year.

In This Issue

  • Stories from the Kids: Daniel and Gus
  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
  • What is Dyslexia?
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in February!

In Upcoming Issues

  • How to Help Your Child Write Short Sequences
  • Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and History
  • Home Treatment for Language Delayed Kids

You're receiving this newsletter either because you have requested it, or because you're a current or former client or associate of Park Slope Communication & Learning Center. If you do not wish to receive any further newsletters, please click "Unsubscribe" at the bottom. You'll have the opportunity to "opt-out" with every e-mail.

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.

Stories from the Kids

The students in our reading groups produce writings using KidsVoyager Online with KidsVoyager Animated Storywriter. The writings may be imaginative stories, summaries of things they've read online, writings to teach higher level skills, such as persuasion, and so on. The stories are entered into the Online Storywriter's text box using typed spelling, combined with Phonic Engine Encoding (i.e. selecting initial & final phonemes for a word, then clicking a matching word displayed in a multisensory word grid). Writing is a terrific way to learn, teaches numerous skills, and kids love it. We hope you enjoy them.

Why I Should be the First Student in Space, by Gus

Dear NASA,

I think I should be the first student in space because I have all the stuff that you should have to go into space, like patience, courage, and curiosity.

I think it's important to be patient because it takes a long time to get to space. It also takes a long time to get to the space station since space makes everything slow.

Courage is important because if the spaceship can't get back on schedule you might get a little bit scared but I wouldn't.

If you're not curious then you wouldn't exactly want to be listening to all the things that they said you should do.

You also need excitement, because if don't have excitement you probably will not be waiting to go into space.

Please choose me to go into space.



Peace Kids Pledge (summary), by Daniel

The Peace Kids Pledge is about a whole group of kids from around the world who are in a peace club. They go onto the Internet once a week to meet each other in cyberspace. The children talk about wanting to have peace in the world. They say that people can deal with conflicts and disagreements by listening, dialogue, and negotiation.

They talk about UNESCO which means United States Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organization. It is an organization in France. It helped convince the United Nations to declare the 21st century as the international decade for a culture of peace and nonviolence for the children of the world.

The group got 100 million people to sign the pledge to bring peace to the world. They talk about important days for a peaceful planet, like January 1st, September 21st, and Earth Day.

The story ends with the children talking about different ideas on how to live a peaceful life, like sharing, taking care of our planet, and helping our community by volunteering.

Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Method & KidsVoyager Online: January, 2012

As we said last month, in the month of January, most of our students are reading chapter books. The assistive technology contained within KidsVoyager Online not only makes these wonderful classics and books accessible to children who could not otherwise read them, but allows them to be used as teaching tools.

The students read for themselves, guided by Merlin, KidsVoyager Online's text reader, enabling them to get the most out of reading these wonderful books. In addition, KidsVoyager Online provides the benefit of a "double click" page. Any word that a student does not know the meaning of can be easily looked up by double clicking on it.

This opens up a dictionary Web page with the word automatically filled-in in the search box. The student then reads/hears the definition of the unknown word and seamlessly continues reading the story.

The ability to read complicated texts provides many opportunities for growth. For example, we work on "advanced" skills, such as prediction; we work on vocabulary above an individual's actual skill level; working on reading comprehension is enhanced by the fact that KidsVoyager Online creates a multisensory Internet, where any topic is accessible, and therefore can be used for reading help.

After reading each chapter, students are given graphic organizers to summarize what they've read. Often, a group discussion ensues. Some students (many of whom draw quite well), also draw pictures of characters and scenes.

Two of the reading sessions are reading "The Story of Dr. Dolittle" by Hugh Lofting. The book has the amusing subtitle of "BEING THE HISTORY OF HIS PECULIAR LIFE AT HOME AND ASTONISHING ADVENTURES IN FOREIGN PARTS NEVER BEFORE PRINTED."

The words ("IN FOREIGN PARTS") should be a clue that the book is very different from the recent movie with Eddie Murphy, which took place in Manhattan.

The students have not finished yet, and the doctor is currently on a mission to save the monkeys in Africa from some terrible disease that is killing hundreds of them. The book is both humorous and an exciting adventure. In the beginning of the story, John Dolittle is an M.D. who loves animals so much that he doesn't mind losing his patients because of them! This, of course, drives patients away. Even the old lady with rheumatism goes to see another doctor … who is 10 miles away … after sitting on a hedgehog!

He has a house full of animals: "He was very fond of animals and kept many kinds of pets. Besides the goldfish in the pond at the bottom of his garden, he had rabbits in the pantry, white mice in his piano, a squirrel in the linen closet and a hedgehog in the cellar. He had a cow with a calf too, and an old lame horse-twenty-five years of age—and chickens, and pigeons, and two lambs, and many other animals. But his favorite pets were Dab-Dab the duck, Jip the dog, Gub-Gub the baby pig, Polynesia the parrot, and the owl Too-Too."

The author paints a very funny picture of his household.

Other students are reading "Alice In Wonderland" or, by its real title, "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. Before we started, we reviewed the concept of "suspension of disbelief." In the first chapter alone, Alice, bored with being with her sister, follows a rabbit down a hole: a rabbit who both talks and carries a watch! After falling very far down, she picks up a glass that says "Drink Me". She drinks it (of course) and describes herself as feeling like she is "shutting up like a telescope." (i.e. the way telescopes retract to become smaller). By the time the chapter is over, Alice is 10 inches tall!!

One of our students, noticing how readily they are able to read this difficult, classic tale, stated with pride that within a small number of weeks, he would be finished with the whole book. The look on his face was priceless!

One other novel being read is "Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Unlike the movie, it begins with a narrator talking about the parents of the boy who would be known as Tarzan. The father, Lord Greystoke, is given the job of looking into the treatment of native inhabitants of an African colony in what was called British West Africa. His wife, Lady Greystoke, will not let her husband go without her, even though she is pregnant and there are concerns about the safety of the mission.

Burroughs begins with a terrifying description of their travels on the Fuwalda, a freighter that is manned by a brutal captain, with equally brutal officers and a crew made up of former slaves. A mutiny disrupts the voyage, and Lord and Lady Greystoke are abandoned by the mutineers somewhere in Africa, with some supplies and tools, providing little security for the young couple and even less hope of ever being rescued.

Aside from some anthropomorphizing, Burroughs's did an amazing job of creating an alien and scary world which was accessible to our students - largely because KidsVoyager Online allowed them to read along with a text reader – allowing them to get as many repetitions of passages as needed, and to look up new vocabulary words, without detracting from the experience of reading the book. Interesting topics of discussion often emerge, such as children raised in the wild, like Tarzan.

Reading these wonderful books will take us into February; they are longer than our usual reading material. Our reading sessions have been enriched by reading these classic stories. We will continue to read great literature and, with the support of KidsVoyager Online, we have many choices to choose from.

What is Dyslexia?

Estimates of the prevalence of dyslexia in the general U.S. population range from 5% to 20%.*

A common belief about dyslexia is that it is a reading disorder caused by a visual perceptual problem that results in reading words backwards, or seeing letters either reversed or "flying" around the page.

However, according to a recent (2002) definition of dyslexia (there are more than one, and they have changed over time) from the International Dyslexia Association, "Dyslexia is a reading disorder that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge."

Secondary consequences occur because as children get older and move through grade school, teachers rely more and more on written material for teaching. A 4th grader might learn about photosynthesis first by reading about it in a text book, rather than having the teacher teach it verbally or with visual cues first.

So instead of referring to dyslexia as a problem of visual processing, the focus is now on auditory processing, specifically phonological processing.

What, then, is phonological processing? Phonological processing is the awareness (usually unconscious at first) that words are made up of discrete sounds. The word "hat", for example, is made up of three sounds: h, short a, and t.

While spoken language is acquired quite naturally by most children, written language is not. Most children do not have to be taught how to speak. Reading, on the other hand, is not a normal developmental skill. It must be taught. If we think about the child who is learning language, but is not particularly strong in the area of phonological processing, it is not a great leap to see why these children may have difficulty learning how to read. When you read, you have to associate a sound with a symbol. Then, you have to blend those sounds together to make a word and, in addition, you have to begin to remember that specific sequences of letter-sounds always make specific words. Finally, you need to associate meanings with the words, be able to understand them when juxtaposed to other words, and easily understand combinations of words as they appear in sentences, paragraphs and books.

In 1996, a very interesting article appeared in Scientific American, by Dr. Sally Shaywitz. Dr. Shaywitz is a pediatrician, co-director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention, and professor of pediatrics at the Yale University School of Medicine. In the article, she describes phonological processing as a "lower order linguistic function" and then describes, in detail, how difficulties with this processing blocks higher order linguistic functions and makes it impossible to derive meaning from text.

Essentially, her point is that if the student is unable to process the speech sounds that make up words, then that student will not be able to comprehend and learn from written material. Dr. Shaywitz describes this process quite elegantly; for those who would like to read her article completely, it may be found here:


A recent study was performed by Dr. Anne-Lise Giraud and Frank Ramus from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. They reported that dyslexic children exhibit three primary symptoms associated with the diagnosis of dyslexia: 1. difficulty attending to individual speech sounds, 2. difficulty repeating nonsense words or numbers, and 3. a slower than typical rate when naming a series of pictures, colors or numbers, when told to go as quickly as possible.

They also noted differences in the left auditory cortex of the brains of the dyslexics who were studied. They concluded that, "Taken together, our data suggest that the auditory cortex of dyslexic individuals is less fine-tuned to the specific needs of speech processing."

We would be remiss if we did not take note of the fact that there is still some disagreement as to the definition of dyslexia. There are still those that believe it to be the result of a visual disorder and there are still those that take their children for visual training to remediate reading impairments. Furthermore, we have parents who firmly believe that visual training improved their child's reading skills. Perhaps, for some children, there is a visual component and perhaps, with more sophisticated testing techniques, such as the fMRI, there will be more definitive information about the efficacy of vision training.

We have found that, using our assistive software, KidsVoyager Online, we are able to address literally all areas of linguistic deficit that are associated with dyslexia, from phonological processing to sound blending; from auditory memory to sound-symbol association; from word retrieval to reading fluency. KidsVoyager Online and the Phonic Engine Reading Method can be utilized to address all of these issues.

In future newsletters, we will share with you how we do it. Also, if you are a current client of ours, even if your child does not attend our reading program, we would like to remind you that a KidsVoyager Online account is available to you at at no cost. In addition, we are currently making KidsVoyager Online available to schools at no cost. If you think your child's school (or your school if you are a teacher) would benefit from this versatile program, please send us an email at info@parkslopecc.com.

* Roongpraiwan, R., Ruangdaraganon, N., Visudhiphan, P., et. al. (2002, November). Prevalence and clinical characteristics of dyslexia in primary school students. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 85 (Suppl. 4): S1097–S1103

Trivia Quiz: Flapjacking Fun

February is National Hot Breakfast Month. How much do you know about the first meal of the day? Test your breakfast knowledge with this trivia quiz.

1. This ready-mix food product was introduced in 1889, but did not become popular until 1893, when the owners hired Nance Green to be featured in its marketing. What is the product?
2. In the U.S., what part of the pig is bacon made from?
3. Which is the lowest in fat: French toast, waffles, or pancakes?
4. More than 75 percent of the world’s supply of maple syrup comes from what country?
5. How many gallons of sap does it take to make one gallon of maple syrup?
6. True or false: Only one egg in 20,000 might be contaminated with salmonella.
7. What country does the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, come from?
8. What is unusual about Kopi Luwak coffee?
9. The first automatic pop-up toaster was introduced in 1926 under the name Toastmaster. How much did this first toaster cost?
10. Hash browns were properly called "hashed brown potatoes" before the name was shortened to "hash browns." When did this name change become commonly used?


1. Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix.
2. Pork bellies.
3. Pancakes.
4. Canada.
5. 40 gallons.
6. True.
7. Sumatra.
8. It is harvested from the excretions of a marsupial that consumes the beans and excretes them unharmed.
9. $13.50.
10. Not until around 1970.

February 2012 Holidays and Events

AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month
American Heart Month
Bake for Family Fun Month
Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month
International Boost Self-Esteem Month
International Expect Success Month
Library Lovers Month
National Bird-Feeding Month
National Black History Month
National Cherry Month
National Children's Dental Health Month
National Hot Breakfast Month
National Mend a Broken Heart Month
National Parent Leadership Month
National Pet Dental Health Month
National Time Management Month
Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month
Relationship Wellness Month
Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
Spunky Old Broads Month
Wise Health Care Consumer Month
Worldwide Renaissance of the Heart Month
Youth Leadership Month

1-7 Solo Diners Eat Out Week
1-7 Women's Heart Week
5-11 Dump Your "Significant Jerk" Week
5-11 Freelance Writers Appreciation Week
5-11 International Coaching Week
5-11 Publicity for Profit Week
6-10 International Networking Week
7-14 Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week
7-14 Risk Awareness Week
12-18 Jell-O Week
13-19 International Flirting Week
13-19 Random Acts of Kindness Week
19-25 National Engineers Week
19-25 National Pancake Week
26-Mar 3 Telecommuter Appreciation Week

1 National Girls and Women in Sports Day
1 Robinson Crusoe Day
2 Groundhog Day
2 Hedgehog Day
3 Bubble Gum Day
3 National Wear Red Day
5 Super Bowl XLVI
5 Weatherperson's Day
7 African-American Coaches Day
7 Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbors Day
8 Laugh and Get Rich Day
11 Be Electrific Day
11 Pro Sports Wives Day
11 Satisfied Staying Single Day
12 Man Day
13 Employee Legal Awareness Day
13 Get a Different Name Day
14 National Donor Day
14 National Have a Heart Day
14 Race Relations Day
14 Saint Valentine's Day
15 Susan B. Anthony Day
17 My Way Day
17 World Human Spirit Day
20 Presidents' Day
21 International Pancake Day
21 Mardi Gras
21 Single-Tasking Day
21 International Mother Language Day
23 Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day
23 National Chili Day
25 International Sword Swallowers Day
26 For Pete's Sake Day
26 National Personal Chef Day
28 Floral Design Day
28 National Tooth Fairy Day
28 Spay Day
29 Bachelors Day
29 International Underlings Day
29 Leap Year Day

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