Reading Comprehension Cubes

Reading Strategies for Comprehension

Get a free copy of cubes for reading comprehension at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers. One includes strategies for reading comprehension, the other has the elements of a story.

Elements of a story

Find websites with passages to check reading comprehension at READ, just read.

See Recipes for Reading Comprehension Strategies at the Balanced Literacy Diet.

Animal Alphabet

The Animal Antics A to Z series by Barbara DeRubertis includes a book with each letter for teaching the alphabet. Each title is an example of alliteration, with the repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are close to one another. Rhyme and alliteration help to develop phonological awareness skills.

Animal antics A to Z by Barbara DeRubertis

1.Alexander Anteater’s amazing act (Jan 2010)
2.Bobby Baboon’s banana be-bop (Jan 2010)
3.Corky Cub’s crazy caps (Jan 2010)
4.Dilly Dog’s dizzy dancing (Jan 2010)
5.Eddie Elephant’s exciting egg-sitting (Sep 2010)
6.Frances Frog’s forever friend (Sep 2010)
7.Gertie Gorilla’s glorious gift (Sep 2010)
8.Hanna Hippo’s horrible hiccups (Sep 2010)
9.Izzy Impala’s imaginary illnesses (Sep 2010)
10.Jeremy Jackrabbit’s jumping journey (Sep 2010)
11.Kylie Kangaroo’s karate kickers (Jan 2011)
12.Lana Llama’s little lamb (Jan 2011)
13.Maxwell Moose’s mountain monster (Jan 2011)
14.Nina Nandu’s nervous noggin (Jan 2011)
15.Oliver Otter’s own office (Jan 2011)
16.Polly Porcupine’s painting prizes (Jan 2011)
17.Quentin Quokka’s quick questions (Jan 2011)
18.Rosie Raccoon’s rock and roll raft (Jan 2011)
19.Sammy Skunk’s super sniffer (Sep 2011)
20.Tessa Tiger’s temper tantrums (Sep 2011)
21.Umma Ungka’s unusual umbrella (Sep 2011)
22.Victor Vicuna’s volcano vacation (Sep 2011)
23.Walter Warthog’s wonderful wagon (Sep 2011)
24.Xavier Ox’s xylophone experiment (Sep 2011)
25.Yoko Yak’s yakety yakking (Sep 2011)
26.Zachary Zebra’s zippity zooming (Sep 2011)

Find the book series listed at Goodreads, and download a printable list here:  Animal Antics A to Z series by Barbara DeRubertis. Watch Letter K read aloud!

more animal alphabet books:

  • ABC Animal Jamboree by Andreae, Giles
  • ABC Animal Riddles by Susan Joyce
  • Alphabet by Alex Lluch
  • Animalia by Graeme Base
  • 8, An Animal Alphabet by Elisha Cooper
  • Animal ABC by Marcus Pfister
  • Search and find alphabet of alphabets by Allan Sanders
  • Bembo’s Zoo by Roberto De Vicq de Cumptich

The Animal Alphabet Wakelet has links to videos and printables for learning the alphabet with animals! Find games and more resources at Learn the Alphabet.

The End of Flash

The end of 2020 also means the end of Flash. Many online games that are great to practice phonics skills use Flash, but Adobe will no longer support Flash after December 30, 2020.

Some websites have made games that are more mobile friendly without Flash, notably: ict games, kizphonics, mr. nussbaum, and room recess. Some of these games can be found at the mobile friendly symbaloo.

A work-around found through an article from How To Geek that led me to Ruffle, has been working for me on my laptop. Please note that the instructions do require downloading and unzipping a file to add an extension to Chrome.

The work-around above may be helpful to use games with Flash at some websites like Galactic Phonics, Literactive, and more found at the Symbaloo collections. I have learned that Professor Garfield, excellent for phonemic awareness, does not work with the Ruffle fix, but does work in the Puffin browser. Unfortunately, Puffin includes annoying pop-up ads. Clever Learner has not been working either way at this writing.

Author Kevin Bolger

Books that are funny are especially popular with kids, which is why “Gran on a Fan: silly short vowels” by Kevin Bolger is a great choice for beginning readers. The author does a great job of creating fun stories while staying within the limitation of using words with short vowels. The illustrations by Ben Hodson are wonderful.

The author has other books for readers as they progress: “Lazy Bear, Crazy Bear” has a focus on long vowels. Two books with sight words are “See Fred Run” and “Fun With Ed and Fred.” Check out his website at

Some Love Gloves

Some one syllable words with the letter o and a silent e at the end make the long o sound, like drove and home. Others that you might expect to have a long vowel sound do not. Instead, they make the “uh” schwa sound, which sounds very similar to short u. Some, love, and glove are a few of these. Practice these words after learning about Silent e (III.a).

Notice that this often happens when the letter o comes before the letters m, n, & v. Of course, some words DO follow the Silent e guideline and have the long o sound.

Play an online wordsearch game with these words.

The Some Love Gloves set that includes a worksheet and boardgame is available at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.

Word Play Games

Playing with words is a great way to practice skills for reading. This list has some ideas for hands on games to play.

Find more links to online games and hands-on games at ABCs of games for reading.

Catch the Pitch: spelling the final /ch/ sound

Catch a pitch or scratch an itch, the tch is not a glitch! Pinch an inch or catch a pitch, how to know which is which? The /ch/ consonant digraph sound is often spelled -tch immediately after a short vowel in one syllable words. As you might expect, there are some exceptions: such, much, rich, and which.

Eat a peach for lunch on a bench and you may have a hunch: after a consonant or vowel combinations it changes a bunch.


The /ch/ sound is NOT spelled -tch when it comes after a consonant, as in branch, clinch, munch or stench.

wrench artwork copyrighted by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator,

It is just ch with mulch or a wrench, also with a bossy r on a porch.


The /ch/ sound is NOT spelled -tch when it comes after diphthongs and vowel teams: pouch, pooch, coach, or reach. If you sit on a couch or lay on a beach, the ch spelling will be found in each.

Now -ch or -tch spelling will be a cinch to teach!


This guideline is learned after learning about consonant digraphs (IV.a)

Play an online wordsearch with words that end in -tch.

Practice words with a set of free word sort games for the Phonics Pow Toolkit that include -ch or -tch words. The Catch the Pitch set includes a word list, worksheet, and a board game. Find it at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.


Voiced and Unvoiced Consonants

Some consonants are voiced; they are formed with vibration in the vocal chords, and no push of air. Voiced consonants are: /b/ /d/ /g/ /j/ /l/ /m/ /n/ /r/ /v/ /w/ /y/ and /z/. All vowels are voiced too.

Some consonants are unvoiced; they make no vibration in the vocal chords, but there is a push of air. Unvoiced consonants are: /f/ /h/ /k/ /p/ /s/ /t/ /x/ /qu/ and digraphs /ch/ /sh/. The digraph /th/ can be voiced as in “that” or unvoiced as in “thing.”

Some word pairs compare voiced and unvoiced consonants (at the beginning) that are made with the same mouth placement of tongue, lips, and teeth. Try putting a hand on the throat to feel the difference while saying these words: bat/pat, dip/tip, gab/cab, van/fan, zip/sip, and jug/chug.

Also try these that are not made with the same mouth placement, but one word begins with a voiced consonant and the other is unvoiced: jog/hog, lit/kit, mat/hat, nut/hut, and rat/pat.

It is easier to learn consonants that are voiced, but understanding the difference becomes especially important in the following two instances.

The letter s can make different sounds, depending on whether it follows a voiced or unvoiced consonant. After an unvoiced consonant, often s = /s/. After a voiced consonant, often s = /z/.

The suffix -ed can make different sounds, depending on whether it follows a voiced or unvoiced consonant. After a voiced consonant, it often makes the sound of /d/ as in “jailed.” After an unvoiced consonant, it often makes the sound of /t/ as in “walked.” A third sound, /id/ is made after the voiced consonant d as in “needed” and the unvoiced consonant t as in “wanted.”

Can you hear the three different sounds made by the suffix -ed in the following sentence?

The sheriff needed his gun. He jailed the wanted man and then he walked home.

A set of resources for with handouts and worksheets for voiced and unvoiced consonants is available at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.

Expect Exceptions!

When letters can make more than one sound, or sometimes be silent, and a sound can be made with different spellings, we know that English is Weird. The rules are more like guidelines that give us a clue. You can almost always expect exceptions.

Below is a round-up of some of the guidelines with some exceptions that I’ve come across. Can you think of some to add?

SHORT VOWEL Variations
Flossy words – the letters f, l, & s often double after a one syllable word with short vowel. Except: When final s makes sound of /z/: is, his, as, has, was. And except: gas, yes, if, this, us, bus. Also other letters double in the words: odd, add, egg, mitt.
a can say short o – watch the dog play squash with the ball.
after w – Except: wag, was. And except: Bossy R variations (ar = /or/ in war, warm, warn, wart, swarm. Also Silent e & vowel teams are more powerful: wave, wade, waist, way.
after qu – Except: quack, aqua, square, quart. Silent e & vowel teams are more powerful: quake, equate, quail.
o can say ŭ (Schwa) – my son won a ton of money a month from the lottery. Except: on, fond, pond.
Closed syllables often have a short vowel, Except: in some words when i or o are followed by two consonants. And Except: Flossy words: roll, words that end with ck: rock, and digraphs: fish.
Also, u can = /oo/ sometimes: sugar, put, push, bush, cushion, & pull, full, bull. U =/ĭ/: busy.

Silent e – Silent e at the end makes the vowel say it’s name. Except: have, give, been, gone, lose, whose, move, shoe. See also: o = /ŭ/ (Schwa sound) in some love gloves + more, and also i before e is weird: sometimes ie steals long e like a thief.

Bossy R Variations
Silent e vs. Bossy R – Silent e wins with -are and -ire. With a wīre in your tīre, ride on the spāre to the car cāre store for sure.
Schwa Bossy R
/ER/ can be spelled different ways: The pearl is worth a dollar
AR can say /ER/: dollar, collar
AR can say /OR/: warm, warn, wart
OR can say /ER/: motor, worth, worm, work
EAR: You will learn (er) not to fear (long e/r) the bear (“air”) with a big heart (ar)
/AIR/: It may be a very bad error to shoot an arrow at the pair of bears.
IR can say a long e: spirit, mirror.

Diphthongs – Two vowels work together to make a sound that’s new. Except: journey, laugh, touch. See also: Oh, Those OUGH Words!
OU: I thought (short o) our (ow-r) chicken soup (long u) for the young (short u) soul (long o) could (oo) be about (ow) cool enough (short u) to pour (long o-r).
OUgh: Although (long o) I ate when I was through (ew) ploughing (ow) the garden, the meat I bought (short o) was so tough (short u) it made me cough (short o).
OUld: Oh you should see the mould – could, would, should =/oo/ Except: mould, shoulder, boulder, smoulder.

Vowel Teams – Two vowels work as a team and the first one likes to speak. Except: said, pleasant, learn, pear, build, sew.
EA can also be short e: bread, head, breath, thread, and also long a: great, steak, break.
OW can also be a diphthong: down, town + more.
See also I before e is weird

Vowels that vary – Tricky Y
In one syllable words, y often = /ī/ like in fly. Except: key
In two syllable words, y often = /ē/ like in candy. Except: supply, reply, rely, deny, apply, July.

Digraphs – Two consonants work together to make a sound that’s new.
/ch/ is often spelled tch after a short vowel in a one syllable word. Except: such, much, rich, which.
CH can say /SH/: the chef with a mustache poured champagne down the chute of the machine. Also, ch = /k/: ache
Consonant Variations
Hard or Soft G – G is often hard before A, O & U. With the others, a soft G will often do. Except: gift, gill, give. g before e will often soft /j/ be. Except: get, gecko, geese.
/k/ at the beginning – K takes i & e, c the other three. Except: kale, skate, koala, skull.
/k/ at the end – the k sound is often spelled ck immediately after a short vowel in one syllable words. The duck said “quack” on the deck near the slick dock. Except: multi-syllable words like zodiac, maniac.
Two sounds of s – The letter S the sound of /s/ makes when you see snakes. Hear the sound of /z/ when your nose smells a rose. Except, s = /sh/: sure, sugar, tissue issue, mission.

Consonant-le – /ul/ -when the letter is long or tall (bdfghjklpty), it is often -le. Except: petal, bridal, global, jackal, sandal, hotel, legal. Also, c & z are often -le: circle, vehicle, uncle, article, cycle, cubicle, puzzle, drizzle.

Schwa: o can say “uh” before n, v, th – I love the other monkey. Except: on, frond, pond, drove (+more where silent e wins), broth, moth, bother.

The English language can be a nasty beast, but it is one that can be beat! Tame it with all of the resources here at Phonics Pow.