Story Decoding Clues and Games

It’s easy for your child to try to read the Tessy & Tab books.

The small number of words in very large type draws their attention and makes them feel that this sentence is something they can sort out. This is very different than the way pre-readers relate to the long sentences and paragraphs found in most read-aloud books – those are for grown ups to read. The sentences in the Tessy & Tab stories are designed to encourage children to give words a try.

And once they start to try to figure words out, there are so many kinds of clues!

Over many years with thousands of preschoolers, we’ve learned all the ways your child might decode what the words they see are saying. We developed and tested clues, and we refined the ones that were the most intuitive to early readers, and those that were fun.

Decoding Clue 1: Name Matching:
Nearly every time Tessy is in the illustration, her name is in the sentence below. It’s the same with Tab. Children notice the “ss” in Tessy’s name, and go on to make the connection about what this word is saying. Tab comes next, and that’s easy because Tab’s name starts with the same “T” as Tessy. These names become some of a child’s first sight words, and more importantly, the experience shows children that they can figure out what words are saying.
Decoding Clue 2: Picture-to-Word Matching:
Whenever it makes sense, words for familiar objects are built into the illustration, and those words can be found in the sentence. This clue of matching the word in the illustration to the word in the sentence is fun for children, and helps them continue to build their sight word inventory.

Decoding Clue 3: Mirrored Sentence Matching:
Many words in the sentence on the right-hand page can be found in the sentence on the left-hand page. During the sound-it-out phase, children know their alphabet and are learning about all the sounds that letters and combinations can make. They try to read words, and getting all the way through one sentence can be very challenging. The “mirrored” text in Tessy & Tab books gives readers in the sound-it-out stage a real boost. They look to the next page and see that many of the words are the same as the ones they just read! This gives them the encouragement to read a little more.

Genuine preschool life experiences connect your child to Tessy and Tab as friends, and to the world of reading on their own. Your child’s familiarity with Tessy & Tab, and with kinds of things that they do, is enhanced with the consistency of our books over many stories. The result is self-initiated learning. Because the Tessy & Tab experience is fun, your child will be naturally drawn to reading these books over and over.
Every Tessy & Tab book has 16 pages,
with the cover introducing each new adventure. The 10-page story follows a narrative arc, with a beginning, lots of action, a climax in the middle and an ending. Every story page has all three types of decoding clues built in to make it fun and easy for your child to build sight word inventory and to feel they can try to sound words out.

Immediately following the story, there is a Find Game that encourages narrative recollection and shows your child that a word is a picture that they can find, too.

And then come Story Questions, designed to build your child’s reading comprehension. The questions also serve as the basis for conversation between you and your child about, and beyond, the story itself.

Spell, Sound and Math Activities

It’s all about connecting the sounds they know with the letters they see. Perhaps the most unique part of the Tessy & Tab books is the set of activities that combine illustrations and color to connect sounds to words in a way that aligns with preschool logic. Your child will be excited when they begin to recognize the letters of the alphabet that they know in the stories that you read to them. The activities that follow our stories are designed to minimize your child’s frustration in the Sound-It-Out stage. Compared to many languages, English has a greater degree of disconnect between its printed and spoken versions. Many letters make more than one sound. Crazy combinations plus many silent letters add to the challenge. We believe it makes sense to explain this to young readers in terms that make sense to them.

The Spell-It-With activity introduces the featured letter or letter combination using modern objects that are spelled with these letters. The page shows the entire word and breaks the word into its phonetic syllables.

The Sound-It-Out activity helps your child learn what to expect from letters and letter combinations. We layer in color and use logic that makes sense to preschoolers, making it easier to remember sounds.

The Mini-math activity on the back of every book introduces your child to the most basic mathematical concepts in a visual manner. The idea is that math is not that complicated. Relating math to your child’s life experiences shows your child that they already know a lot about math, and that they are good at it! Not every concept will be obvious or interesting at a given age or stage. Just talk about the page in any way that appeals to your child. If they are not showing interest in the idea of odd vs. even numbers, that’s OK. Talk about the balls. What kind are they? Let’s count them.