I want share a real literacy jewel. This is an easy and economical system to set up. It can be used in multiple ways. I have combined two approaches to create a highly effective small group reading activity.

The system originates from a book called “Right Track Reading Lessons: A Highly Effective Step-by-Step Direct Systematic Phonics Program.”   Read about it here.  I highly recommend it!  I believe it is a must have resource.  I am not going to go into their amazing system as I feel I could not do it justice.  This system literally takes the children from emerging readers through high school. Buy the book – it will be the best $30 you spend!

I had used the Making Words Program but the paper letter tiles were driving me crazy.  The paper tiles fell and stuck together.  It was a headache.  I thought about ceramic tiles.  I wondered if it had been done yet.  I googled it and stumbled on to Right Track Reading Lessons.  What a treasure to find!

Benefits of this system:

  • Very tactile!  I love how the children can feel the weight of each tile and there's a “picking up” and moving of tiles.
  • Child is able to isolate and distinguish individual sounds in a word.
  • Child is able to see and manipulate phonemic patterns such as word families.
  • There is direct practice of blending sounds together.
  • There is the direction experience of substituting and changing sounds.

Here are the instructions for making one set of tiles.  I made four sets as I normally work with four students at a time.


You will need 2″ x 2″ white bathroom tiles.  Be careful as you separate the tiles.  I used a pair of scissors.  It can be tricky so take care as you do this.


Using permanent marker – make tiles with the letters of the alphabet.

Additionally, you will need to make tiles with sound chunks and hunks.  While the program in the book is great – if you have an existing method in place – you can easily make the tiles so that it follows your program.

Here are some examples of the adapting I have done:


to use the the Second Story Chunk Spelling Method

th, sh, wh, ck, ch, wh

These sounds will be worked sequentially:

ad, ap, at, an, og, ig, ip, in, ed, ub, ash, ing, unk, ump, ent, ock

ate, ame, ale, ide, ime, ite, one, ay, ai, ain, ee, eat, oom, oil, oat, oon, ook,

ight, aw, ew, ow


to use with Phonics Dance Method

sh, ch, th, wh, ing, all, ed, ow, ou, oo, ir, ur, er, or, ar, ew, aw, augh, oy, oi,

ay, ai, ee, ea, ph, kn, wr, tion, sion, igh, eigh, oa


I used a tackle box from the hardware store to center;house my tiles.  Perfect!


I began by reviewing simple CVC/word families.  At the first grade level – we did this for just a few weeks.


It was amazing how quickly the children moved into blends and sound chunks.  This system made the “pieces” of a word so visible to the children.

Here is an example how I had the children build words with the focus sound chunks.

Step One:  CvC

  • the children put out the sound chunk
  • please make the word “bay”
  • sound it out together
  • repeat with day, hay, lay, may, nay, pay, ray, say, way

Step Two: CCvC

  • please make the work “bray”
  • clay, gray, play, pray, slay, stay, sway, tray

Both Phonics Dance and Second Floor Window offer lists with the word families.  They are worth checking out.  I have lots more to share about the literacy approach that arose as I found different components that worked wonders together!  Stay tuned!

Download my sound sheet here.