Coverup Critters and Letterboxes

Coverup critters are decorated popsicle sticks used to help children decode words during oral reading. We cover the word and then slowly uncover the parts one at a time to make decoding easier.

We might uncover single letters, e.g., with h-e-l-p. When there are digraphs, we uncover each grapheme, e.g., sh-o-ck. When readers are beginning to read longer words, we can uncover syllables, as in the illustration.

Letterboxes are cardstock squares used in the letterbox lesson to help children understand a word as an alphabetic map. The understanding comes from seeing how the letters map out phonemes. Thus, each square stands for one phoneme in the word. Letterboxes should lie flat because it is distracting when they pooch up and make letter tiles fall off. I like to make them of different colored cardstock, outline them with a dark marker, and tape them together loosely. However, some teachers leave them untaped, which works well too.

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