SnapWords® Explained – Child1st Publications

SnapWords® Explained


What are SnapWords® High-Frequency Words?

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 orthographic mapping, 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.

Shop SnapWords® Products by Category

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
  • eyeeye
  • isisland
  • 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: 

  • Visual learners
  • Kinesthetic learners
  • Tactile learners
  • Beginners
  • 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.