The SPEC Reading Scheme is a New Zealand scheme written by Carolyn
Baines and illustrated by Sarah Parry.
It has been designed to use with students who are struggling to learn to read.
This ‘fun’ approach has a highly structured framework, in which students learn 100
common sight words, using picture cues and word games, and a workbook, before
receiving the story books.
The first story book Spike, contains just 20 sight words.
The story books come in an A5 format and contain 32 pages.
The students learn the words using robust A5 ‘Discussion Cards’.
The sight word learning is consolidated by using smaller picture and
word cards in games such as:
There is a workbook for each of the story books too, so
students read the learned words in simple sentences and respond to an
instruction, introducing simple comprehension exercises.
The workbook also provides the opportunity to learn to write the words both
individually and in short sentences.
The sentences only use the sight words that the student has learned
for each book.
When teachers are sure that the 20 sight words have been learned thoroughly,
and students can recognise them without error, the reward is to receive the story
book. Each one containing 20 new sight words that accumulate in number, until in
book 5 they can read the whole 100 words.
Story 6 consolidates the learning of the whole 100 words plus some compound
words made up of the sight words learned.
In the first six books the vocabulary is carefully chosen to include instructional
words, common everyday words, and words that are needed to construct a story.
The highly structured activities and control of vocabulary ensures that students
develop the self confidence and motivation needed in students who have
experienced ‘failure’ probably several times over, and are now reluctant to
try again. This is a different approach with a fun sequential story, and a structure
that ensures they will have success.
Other considerations made when producing the materials, was to use a font that
was clear and common to most, and a size that was easy on the eyes.
So the reading books and words cards are all done using the Arial font.
The workbook however, use SassoonPrimaryInfant font which is similar to
the hand writing model.
You will notice when receiving the reading books and workbooks, that a very pale
blue has been used as the background colour to the pages, that should assist
any student with dyslexic type issues.
Finally the pictures on the word cards and the illustrations in both the workbooks
and reading books are original, current, exciting and focused on New Zealand with
a story line that amuses young children and adults alike, so the materials are not
related to any specific age group.
Click on the links on the right to find out more.
A New Zealand Reading Scheme
A structured and fun way to teach reading