Embedded picture mnemonics: flashcard size

I’ve had many requests for a flashcard-sized version of our Embedded Picture Mnemonics, so (finally, sorry, I was moving house) here they are.

Embedded picture mnemonics are drawings of letters embedded in a picture of something with a name that contains that sound. The classic example is a snake in the shape of a letter S.

Mentally linking two abstract concepts (a speech sound and its letter/spelling) to the point where one automatically evokes the other is hard work, and typically requires hundreds of repetitions.

Embedded picture mnemonics incorporate a hint of the sound in each letter/spelling, to help build sound-spelling connections in memory. These connections need to be strengthened by writing letters/spellings in words while saying the relevant sounds, and using decodable books and other practice materials which follow your phonics teaching sequence.

Like the A4-sized version of these embedded picture mnemonics, this smaller version can be used to gradually build a Sound Wall with children, depicting each of the sounds of English, and adding words illustrating the different ways each sound is spelt these are taught. Photos of children’s mouths saying each sound can also be included.

Beginners can also learn to build and change words using the Embedded Picture Mnemonic cards, as in the following video:

Please note that there’s only one Embedded Picture Mnemonic for each sound, except for the sound /k/, since it is represented by the letters C, K, Q and is part of the sound combination represented by X (/ks/). This set is intended to teach beginners a spelling for each sound, since awareness of sounds tends to be the hardest part of learning to read and spell, and the reason many children fail. Once children can recognise all the letters, you should be able to add additional spellings without needing extra mnemonics for them.

I hope you like these cute illustrations, which were devised with talented, tolerant, patient, Melbourne illustrator Cat MacInnes (www.catmacinnes.com), and find them helpful in teaching young children phonemic awareness and basic phoneme-grapheme correspondences.

8 thoughts on “Embedded picture mnemonics: flashcard size

  1. Jan

    Why would you use long vowel sounds for picture cues? Orange for o? Flower for f? A blend? Wouldn’t a single sound be a better cue? Are these used for some other purpose?

    1. alison Post author

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean. I have mnemonics for both “short” and “long” vowel sounds, there are a total of 19 vowel mnemonics. I did try to find a picturable word that started with just /f/ not /fl/ or /fr/ but “fan” is hard to work into the shape of an ‘f’, and “fog” is too much like “cloud” which we used for /ou/, “fat” is not really politically correct, “fun” is hard to draw and everyone’s idea of it is different, etc etc. These mnemonics are just meant to be used to help kids learn a spelling for each sound, and to be aware of all the sounds of spoken Australian English. All the best, Alison

    1. alison Post author

      It depends on your accent I suppose, if you’re in Boston they might be perfect, but if you’re in Alabama then they probably need some tweaking. I’m not an expert in US English (though I did teach a course called American English at a Mexican university in 1997) but perhaps ask one?


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