SnapWords® are a collection of 643 curated high frequency words that comprise over 90% of words found in children’s text. SnapWords® had their beginnings in the late 1990’s in response to the need of visual and kinesthetic learners to make sense of the phonics concepts they were struggling to learn.
The SnapWords® System teaches phonemic awareness, phonics and orthography, instant word recognition, spelling, writing, comprehension and fluency, delivered in a way that utilizes the three primary learning modalities, visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.
To guide adults, SnapWords® Mini-Lessons are included in every List of words which detail how to teach each of the essential reading skills. Click the link to download a sample lesson.
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How do SnapWords® Relate to Cueing, Decoding, Phonics, & Orthographic Mapping?
SnapWords® are not a cueing system, instead, the visuals activate visual memory for right-brained learners who are also picture thinkers. SnapWords® are rooted in explicit phonics instruction, utilizing orthographic mapping and phoneme/grapheme relationships during instruction.
Structure of a SnapWords® Phonics Lesson
During a SnapWords® lesson, we begin by identifying the word, which is critical for visual learners. We do a body motion to activate body memory for kinesthetic learners, and do visual imprinting for visual learners. The remaining sections of the lesson address the target phonics concept/spelling pattern, which we use immediately to decode a list of other words that share the same spelling pattern. SnapWords® Mini-Lessons teach the same content as prescribed by Science of Reading, but in an order that makes sense to visual learners and how they process information.
How to teach orthographic mapping within the SnapWords® System
All sounds have their keywords, which are the smallest and most frequently used words that contain the related phonics concept. For example, Long I spellings and keywords include:
i – find
ie – pie
i-e – like
igh – high
eigh – height
y – my
eye – eye
is – island
ais - aisle
Once we have taught the IGH spelling for Long I, we can use HIGH as the reminder keyword when we encounter much longer words containing that phonics concept.
The orthographic mapping of NEIGHBORHOOD, with its related keywords.
Even in a long word, once sound spellings are highlighted, decoding the word is easy.
SnapWords® Are Designed to Provide Learning Success for Right-Brained Learners
Approximately 65% of children in school are right-brained learners. Interestingly enough, about 65% of our children range from working too hard in learning to read, to failing to learn to read. There is a direct correlation between the two groups.
"Learning, for visual-spatial learners, takes place all at once, with large chunks of information grasped in intuitive leaps, rather than in the gradual accretion of isolated facts, small steps or habit patterns gained through practice.” (Silverman, 2005)
Right-brained learners include:
Children with dyslexia, autism, auditory processing disorder, ADD, ADHD, and more
More Research on Processing Styles and Reading
65% of children are visual/right-brained processors who struggle with left-brained lessons when they are learning to read. Right-brained kids think in pictures and must translate what they hear into mental images in order to learn and remember. Letters and words are abstract symbols which convey no meaning on their own, so there is nothing for the visual memory to "snap and store." This matters because right-brained kids learn via visual memory, not memorization or repetition.
The same children who struggle to create mental images for abstract symbols are the ones who struggle to learn to read. If we want to change their experience, we must take a right-brain-friendly approach. The beauty of teaching from within a right-brain system is that we will empower visual/right-brained learners while engaging left-brained learners and enhancing their reading comprehension skills. Best of all, The SnapWords® System teaches the same phonics, decoding, word recognition skills as Science of Reading - just in a different order!
Studies confirm that every individual has their own preferred learning style.(Mayer and Massa, 2003) Visual learners learn by visual reinforcements, and 65% of our population identifies as visual learners. (Jawed et al., 2019)
Coincidentally, 65% of 4th graders in the USA are reading below proficiency levels. (The Condition of Education 2020) We have found that these struggling learners perform wonderfully when they have resources that align with their visual learning preference. Child1st has been bridging this gap for over two decades between right-brained learners and left-brained teaching and content. Learn more about children and where they fall on The Learning Spectrum.
"I want you guys to know your snapwords program has changed my little boy's world!! He is dyslexic and suffers from apraxia. He has had such a hard time learning his sight words. I found these late one night when I could not sleep worrying about my son. I took a chance and ordered the first set of sight words. After the first couple of weeks my husband and I were blown away at how much he progressed. I was worried he would not be able to identify the word without the picture but he can. I would flip the card over so it was just the word and he still was able to retain it!! My son self confidence has went through the roof. He loves to show family now how well he can read his sight words. My son has been in speech therapy for years and his pathologist is amazed at his improvement with these cards. Thank you for snapwords!"
My 5-year-old daughter has motor skill delays, visual processing issues and was diagnosed with ADHD all during her kindergarten year. She struggled to learn everything and most of it didn't stick. Her teacher met with me at the end of the third grading period and said based on her most recent evaluation, it would probably be best to retain her. While reading and researching any way I could to help her I came across your website. I worked with my daughter constantly over spring break using SNAPWORDS. By the end of spring break, she not only knew the 25 words she was required to know for kindergarten but an additional 35!!!! workbook to see how much I could improve her math skills. Again, wonderful progress. Her teacher just completed 4th quarter midterm testing. She called me personally to tell me that my daughter has made such amazing progress, she feels confident passing her and allowing her to move forward to first grade!! I couldn't be more satisfied with your product and I'm telling everyone about it; family, friends, her occupational therapist, teacher, other parents, groups on Facebook...EVERYONE. I can't thank you enough!"
-Thank you, Danielle, Madelynn's mom
Actually, no. SnapWords and their images are captured instantly in visual memory by right-brained learners who think in pictures and learn easily via images and other visual elements. (maps, charts, graphs, etc.) (Silverman, 2005) Once the word and its image is in their visual memory (which happens in seconds), right-brained learners, including visual and kinesthetic learners, retrieve the word easily when reading plain text. The image provides a hook for recall and for comprehension. “When a student with powerful abstract reasoning abilities is asked to use only the simplest mental facility of rote memorization, much of the potency of the child’s intelligence remains unused.” (Upside-Down Brilliance., Silverman, 2005)
Cueing systems teach children to use cues to guess words they don’t know. SnapWords actually tell and show children what the word really is and then within minutes, the words are broken down into their phonics concepts and related to many other words who utilize the same phonics rule. SnapWords marry frequently occurring words with their phonics concepts. Silverman, L. K. (2002). Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner. (Denver: DeLeon).
Actually, good question! The way we teach SnapWords® accommodates the 65% of children who are visual learners, who need an image to store in visual memory, and who need to see the whole word before learning details such as phonics rules, spelling, and decoding. After we say the whole word, we teach spelling patterns/phonics rules, and children are empowered to decode more difficult, unknown words. SnapWords® provides the whole word first, then teaches phonics. Sequential approaches teach the details first, then move to whole word. It is the same content, but the 65% of children who are visual learners need to learn sight words and phonics from whole to part.
For left-brained dominant processors who think in words and deal well with abstractions, the images might seem superfluous and/or distracting. The plain word looks so much more business-like and actually matches words found in books. For right-brained learners, the image is everything. It allows children to snap a picture and store the whole picture in visual memory (matching how they think) and then that image becomes a hook for recall. Even when they see the plain word, if you ask them how they remembered the word while reading, invariably the child will tell you the image, which they can still see in visual memory, is what brought the word back. (Zopf et al., 2004)
If there truly is a science of reading, then all children will be successful in learning to read from within that system. The very fact that 65% of our children in school are failing to learn to read to varying degrees demonstrates that the “science” is perfect for only 35% of our kids (left-brained learners). When we embrace one system and call it “science,” then we must simultaneously accept the fact that all those children for whom the system does not work will be labeled…. disabled. I’m not prepared to do that, are you?
Actually, children who can’t sound out words, can’t memorize phonics rules, struggle with learning spelling patterns, learn much more quickly than their left-brained counterparts. Right-brained learners, including visual and kinesthetic learners, are equipped to learn to read successfully if we are prepared to honor their wiring and structure teaching approaches that meet their learning needs. It is not difficult to teach right-brained learners in a manner that is compatible with their wiring, and reality is teaching that way saves a whole lot of time otherwise spent in repetition, review, and attempts to memorize.
It might seem like cheating when we provide right-brained learners with meaningful visuals and related body movement because they will learn so quickly! It will look like we cheated. But what is happening is that right-brained learners take in, process, and remember information most easily when visuals and body motions become vehicles for learning. Right-brained learners can skip whole steps and still learn all the relevant and needful details that comprise reading and knowing the structure of words. We just need to honor and trust the ways in which right-brained learners learn rather than asking them to change their wiring.
It is a fact that children who don’t remember after a couple of repetitions will continue to not remember with additional, multiple repetitions. Right-brained children don’t utilize memorization or repetition to any benefit. “They tend not to learn from repetition and drill and they tend to see things as whole pictures before they learn the details.” (H. Hindal et al., 2009) If a child continues to fail no matter how many repetitions, they will absorb the idea that they are incapable. They will become discouraged. Far better to recognize with them that they are amazing visual and kinesthetic learners and give them the opportunity to learn using their strengths.
Orthographic mapping is included in every lesson that accompanies SnapWords®. We show the whole word first to honor kids who learn from whole to part, then we break the word apart or map it by spelling patterns. Same content, but an approach that is reversed from tradition, and which works beautifully for right-brained learners.
65% of children are identified as right-brain dominant in their natural wiring. (Zopf et al., 2004) Around half of those prefer right-brained strategies and elements, but the other half absolutely need a right-brained approach in order to learn. (Mayer and Massa, 2003) If they don’t have the benefit of teaching that matches their wiring, they have to work very hard to translate what they are hearing into something their brains can process. The 30% just are not equipped to do that, so they end up failing. Left-brained children, on the other hand, are wired in a way that is honored in traditional education. They are already doing just fine, so we have chosen to focus on providing equity in learning and a path to success for those right-brained learners who are having to work too hard and for those who are failing.