A crafty teacher in Brighton has found an ingenious way to help young pupils learn their phonetic alphabet.
Retired teacher Debbie Long told The Argus how she had invented a series of knitted monkeys, kittens, robots and queens while teaching her former colleague Jill Hassan how to knit one purl one.
Mrs Long said: “That week she was teaching the sound ‘sh’ at school and used Shy Sheila.
“The children picked it up really quickly and loved this little toy. We decided having the sounds associated with characters was the way forward.”
These new tools could be a welcome way to improve literacy rates, with two-fifths of six-year-olds failing to meet expected standards in phonics, figures released by the Department for Education earlier this year revealed.
Mrs Long, who used to be a special educational needs teacher at Balfour Primary School, has also created a series of rhymes for the 26 characters.
She explained to the newspaper that the children need to learn the letters’ sounds so that they can learn to read and write.
“Often they struggle to understand, but this is multi-sensory, learning through play and includes lots of games and singing.
“This idea came from my teaching experience – thinking about how we can make learning phonics easy. It’s also really good for special needs children because it’s a multi-sensory approach,” Mrs Long said.
Vowel sounds can often be the most difficult for children to grasp and apply; therefore they are a key focus of her knitted characters.
Parents, friends and family can now knit their own characters using instructions published in a Planet Phonics Kniteracy book, which could provide children with that extra boost to their literacy rates.
For schools which may not have many people with knitting skills, crafty folk are sought to help out and make the characters so that classes of young pupils can benefit from them for years to come.