Teaching Phonics to Your Child: Daydreaming of Letters

Enrichment Therapies

February 13, 2023

Adult helping child with letter practice

By: Suzanne Schuchert, M.S., CCC-SLP

Did you know that students can benefit greatly from being taught how to visualize? Visualization is key for long-term recall of phonics concepts and irregular sight words. If our students can “make a picture” of words in their heads, they are using the part of their brain that is responsible for long-term storage and automatic retrieval of symbols (e.g. letters and letter combinations). 

It’s great if a student can quickly tell me what the “oi” vowel team says when I show it to them. It’s even better if they can “make a picture” of a word containing that vowel combination in their head.  

Teaching Visualization Techniques

Visualization can be a tricky thing to explain to students. Additionally, I never can be 100% confident if a student is truly visualizing or not. We often explain visualization as “making a movie in your head” to help them understand the technique. 

The Seeing Stars program from Lindamood Bell is something that we utilize at Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center and inspired me to make a visual that helps illustrate the visualization process that we want to occur during a common phonemic awareness task.

ETLC Phonics Visualization Process

  1. First, we start by visualizing the first word (real or nonsense) and finger-spelling it. Fingerspelling is where the student pretends like their finger is the pencil, and they trace the letters in the air.
  2. Next, I tell them to erase a certain letter. 
  3. Then the student replaces that letter with another letter and finger spells the new word.
  4. After that, the student says what the new word is.
  5. We continue the process, making one sound or letter change at a time.


Keep It Simple

That’s it! This is a simple activity that can help improve visualization of symbols, phonics knowledge, phonemic awareness, attention, and working memory. Keep in mind that some students may need to strengthen other phonological and phonemic awareness skills (e.g. isolating sounds in words, blessings sounds into words, deleting sounds from words) prior to this type of phonemic awareness task that involves sound manipulation. 

Get Individualized Support from Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.


740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317




5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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