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Using Letter Tiles to Teach Reading and Spelling

Color-coded letter tiles are a fantastic way to help your child learn to read and spell! Whether you’re using the Letter Tiles app or the physical letter tiles, letter tiles enable your child to quickly and easily grasp new concepts.

Here’s a short video demonstrating how letter tiles can be used to teach reading and spelling. This particular lesson from All About Spelling teaches when to use K and when to use CK at the end of a word.

Do you see how easy that concept was for our student to understand? Letter tiles are awesome!

7 Benefits of Using Letter Tiles

Whether you use the Letter Tiles app or the physical letter tiles, the benefits to your child are the same.

  1. Letter tiles help you explain reading and spelling concepts very clearly.
    Concepts and ideas become something your child can see and manipulate.
  2. The different colors help students visualize the different roles that letters have.
    In the video above, for example, colored tiles helped Oliver distinguish between vowels and consonants.
  3. Your child can try out the rules and see how they work.
    With letter tiles, concepts are no longer abstract or difficult to understand.
  4. Letter tiles hold a child’s attention…
    …especially a child who has attention issues or auditory processing difficulties.
  5. Mistakes are no big deal.
    It’s much easier to exchange tiles than to erase and rewrite a word.
  6. Letter tiles make it easier to stay on task for longer periods of time…
    …especially for younger kids who are still developing fine motor skills and for whom writing is more tiresome.
  7. Letter tiles lay the groundwork for the accomplishment of bigger goals.
    Letter tiles don’t take the place of spelling words with paper and pencil. Instead, they act as a fantastic learning tool that will enable your student to learn to spell more quickly and accurately, helping him get to the real goal: writing.

Color Coding Makes Learning Easier

Color coding makes it easy for students to see the role that each type of letter plays in a word. For example, consonants are blue, vowels are red, and phonograms representing the sound of /er/ (such as ER, IR, and UR) are purple. The chart below shows all our letter tile colors.

Letter Tiles App or Physical Tiles—Which Should I Choose?

You can’t go wrong with either the Letter Tiles app or the physical tiles. They are both great options! Here are some considerations to help you decide:

letter tiles app

With the Letter Tiles app:

  • It’s easy to capitalize words
  • You can hear the sounds of the phonograms as you teach
  • No more worries about lost letter tiles
  • Lessons are easy to teach “on the go”
  • Need to switch between students? No problem! Simply select your current lesson in All About Reading or All About Spelling and you’re ready to begin.

The Letter Tiles app has been our most requested product of all time, but the physical letter tiles have devoted fans as well.

physical tiles

With the physical letter tiles:

  • No tablet is required to complete the lessons
  • Larger tiles are easy to read
  • It’s easy to incorporate hands-on alphabetizing practice
  • Tricky word parts can be highlighted with markers
  • Timeless and traditional educational tool

As you’re deciding between the app and the physical tiles, consider which option would be the most engaging to your child. Which one would your child want to use? Some clues to consider: Does my child prefer colored pencils, or does she like computer games? Is my child used to learning from technology, or is he more comfortable with traditional methods of learning? Does she prefer to read paper books or eBooks?”

And be sure to consider your preferences as well. Do you like the larger format of the magnetic white board? Do you have a place to store the board, or are you attracted to the compact nature of the app?

The bottom line is that teaching and learning will be the same no matter which option you choose. What’s most important is that you have a way to teach the concepts and your child has an enjoyable way to practice and experiment. The physical letter tiles and the Letter Tiles app both provide interactive methods that make spelling and reading concepts more concrete for your child.

Additional Resources for the Letter Tiles App

Video of App Benefits
How to Use the App
The Letter Tiles app is intuitive and easy to use. Here are two videos to show you the basic and advanced features.

Basic Features:

Advanced Features:

Where to Get the Letter Tiles App
Follow these links to purchase the Letter Tile app:

Additional Resources If You Use Physical Letter Tiles

How to Set Up Your Letter Tiles
You can use your letter tiles on a table, but it is much easier to use a magnetic white board. You can get magnetic white boards at stores such as Walmart or Staples. Two feet by three feet is a good size because it will hold all the tiles while still allowing work space in the center of the board.

When you first set up your magnetic white board, you’ll only include the tiles that have already been introduced. You don’t want to clutter up your board with tiles that your student hasn’t learned yet. If you are just starting out in Level 1, then, your set-up will look like this:

By the time you get to the end of All About Reading or All About Spelling, your board will contain all the phonograms:

If You Ever Lose a Tile…
Here at All About Learning Press, we know that even in the most careful households, letter tiles sometimes disappear. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s Rachel with all the details!

How about you? Do you use physical letter tiles or our new letter tiles app? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!


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Dianna Blicharz

says:

As a teacher, I would love to be able to project this on my Smartboard at school. Any possibility?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Dianna,
Yes! An Android or iOS compatible smartboard type input device or standard projector should function fine with our app.

Patty Dorlac

says:

Love the options!

Doaa

says:

These letter tiles are amazing.
Why don’t you apply this app. Online on Your site for free for kiddos to use with ads about all about reading and spelling programs?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Doaa,
We do not have the Letter Tiles for Learning app available online, but we do have our Phonogram Sounds app available.

Debbie Basnec

says:

I ordered both the All about Spelling and All About Reading programs for Level 1. I received packages of letter tiles for each program. Do I need both or are they the same?
Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Debbie,
No, you don’t need two sets of letter tiles. The Basic Interactive Kits for reading and spelling are almost identical (these have the letter tiles, magnets, Phonogram Sounds download, and divider cards). So, if you kept the reading kit, you would only need one or two components from the Spelling Interactive Kit. These can be ordered separately:

Spelling Divider Cards (you’ll need these to organize the spelling review cards)

Optional: Spelling Review Box (or use a card box you find locally)

If you order from us, you can keep the Spelling Divider Cards and return the rest of the Spelling Interactive Kit for a partial refund. This page will tell you how to ship a return to us.

Please let me know if you have questions or need anything else.

Liz

says:

My daughter is legally blind and has a difficult time seeing the physical tiles I have. I was thinking of trying the app, but need to know if we can zoom in on the letters (making them larger) while using the app.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Liz,
No, there isn’t a way to zoom in the Letter Tile app. I know that isn’t a help to you.

But if she has difficulty seeing the physical letter tiles, how does she do with reading words from the Activity Book or Readers?

I really want to help you further, but am unfamiliar with teaching a legally blind student. Please reach out to us by email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com or by phone at 715-477-1976 and one of co-workers may be able to help you find a solution.

Liz

says:

Can you tell me how large the letters are on the app? Are they the same size as the physical tiles?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Liz,
The app tiles are smaller than the physical tiles. On my iPad mini, they are about half an inch and the size of the app tiles is similar between different devices.

However, since a table is used at a closer distance, usually at the distance that you would hold a book, the smaller tiles has been great for most students. The physical tiles are one inch, but students usually stand further back from them, about as far as arm length.

I’m not sure that the app would be better for your daughter or not. However, if you do the video on this page on your tablet and make it full screen, you should get an idea of how the app would look size-wise.

Liz

says:

Darn! I was hoping the app would work. Using the physical tiles is just a lot of visual clutter. The app seemed to really simplify the process. I’ll just try some modifications and see how it goes. Thanks for your response.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Liz,
If it is the visual clutter of the physical tiles that is a problem, the app may help without a zoom function.

Check out our Our Top Tips for Using the Letter Tiles App blog post and the video at the top of it. As you can see, only a portion of the tiles is visible at a time in the app. The device in the video is a smaller tablet, an iPod mini, to give you an idea about scale.

Also, the app has the blank “working area” at the top of the app instead of in the middle of the board. Eyes tend to scan from the top down, so that may help with the feeling of visual clutter too.

The video shows the tiles with the letters written in white. However, they can also be changed so that they are black. This is done in the Menu under “Settings”.

Again, I’m sorry I’m not more help.

Amy

says:

How do most people position their magnet board? I’m about to purchase one and would like to hear what might be the most useful positioning.
– flat on a table
– flat on the floor
– mounted to the wall
– propped up against something
– other?

One user had posted that their student’s arms got tired from using the tiles. I know this will be a consideration at my household as well. Any thoughts regarding what angle of magnetboard would minimize the fatigue?

We already purchased the physical tiles and I’m about to purchase a magnet board. We plan to purchase the app also so we have options too and can switch mid-lesson if that seems helpful.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good questions, Amy.

Most families using All About Reading and All About Spelling mount their magnetic board to a wall. I think one thing that affects tired arms is how high the child has to reach. If the board is mounted at a height that is comfortable for an adult, a child will have to reach over their head for the entire lesson. Before the app was available, I was teaching both older and younger children so I had a step stool in front of the magnetic board for my little ones to stand on to make reaching all the tiles easier.

Some families do us the magnetic board on a table or propped against something on the floor so students can sit and move the tiles. This works well for them, but the tiles can be bumped off the board as you move the board around. It seems to depend on how magnetic your board is, meaning it is more of an issue for some people than for others.

My best advice is to go with what seems best for your family and then adapt as needed as you see how things go.

Jamie

says:

I’m debating between getting the full All About Reading Level 1 or getting the App-dependent version (missing letter tiles and cards), to save money. If I order the app-dependent program, can I add the letter tiles if I buy them separately?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jamie,
The Letter Tiles App takes the place of the physical letter tiles only; the rest of the program is the same for both. However, yes, you can order the letter tiles separately.

Does this help? Let me know if you have any questions or need anything else.

Megan

says:

Can the App be downloaded on several devices (and one sign-in account)? Or “moved” from one system to the next?

We don’t have a designated device for schooling, but if we put it on one of our IOS devices now… and we get one (say a Kindle Fire) later for schooling, I don’t want to pay another $20 on a download.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Megan,
If all of your devices are associated with the same app store account, you can buy once and install the app on multiple devices. Also, if you have the same kind of device (Apple, Android, or Kindle), their respective app stores allow “family sharing” to a specific number of separate accounts.

However, if you are purchasing for different types of devices, you would need to purchase for each type of device. One app store purchase cannot transfer to another kind of app store. We have no control over this. For example, if you purchase for iPad, you will need to purchase it again for Android or Amazon Fire.

Ariann

says:

I have the same question

Amanda

says:

Are the interactive kits for all about reading and all about spelling different? If I already have the all about reading interactive kit with the letter tiles, do I need to purchase an all about spelling interactive kit?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
The Basic Interactive Kits for reading and spelling are almost identical (these have the letter tiles, magnets, Phonogram Sounds download and divider cards). So, if you already have a reading kit, you would only need one or two components from the Spelling Interactive Kit:

Spelling Divider Cards (you’ll need these to organize the spelling review cards)
– Optional: Spelling Review Box (or use a card box you find locally)

Let me know if you need anything else.

Christine McDowall

says:

Hi, I’m a dyslexic adult. I can read and spell mostly everyday words; however, I am by no means fluent or confidant, I have memorized words. I have great difficulty reading and spelling unfamiliar words, especially when put on the spot! Example, a customer, will give me their address so I can enter into my computer and my mind goes completely blank as I lack confidence etc. I do think this program will help me, but what level do you go up too, please? I also cannot spell names or places basically anything I haven’t heard before. Your advice if you think this will help me and how advance can it go, thank you,
Christine

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christine,
All About Spelling has 7 levels that cover through high school level. It has been used very successfully with many adults. The program is designed to be used with a teacher, however, so you would need to have someone help you with it. There is no special training for the teacher required, however. He or she will only need to go over the lessons with you, reading words for you to write, helping you when you make errors, and so on.

Let me know if you need more information or have questions.

doaa

says:

thanks so much for your great ideas
i am fro Egypt i am so ectied in learning children how to spell english very well
how much do i need to buy all the levels of your products/
daoo

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Doaa,
Leave a reply
For All About Spelling:
Basic Interactive Kit: $22.85
Level 1: $29.95
Level 2: $39.95
Level 3: $39.95
Level 4: $39.95
Level 5: $39.95
Level 6: $39.95
Level 7: $39.95
Subtotal: $292.50
If you would like the Deluxe Interactive Kit instead of the Basic Kit, add $22 to the total.

For All About Reading:
Basic Interactive Kit: $21.85
Level 1: $134.95
Level 2: $134.95
Level 3: $134.95
Level 4: $134.95
Subtotal: $561.65
If you would like the Deluxe Interactive Kit instead of the Basic Kit, add $22 to the total.

Here is a link to our Shipping Information.

Please let me know if you need more information or have questions.

Nila01

says:

Where can i buy colour coded letter tiles ?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nila,
You can buy them through our website, Letter Tiles. However, we also have a UK distributor that also carries the tiles. Conquest Books.

Let me know if you have any further questions or need anything else.

Brenda

says:

Can I use the letter tiles without using a lesson?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brenda,
Yes, the letter tiles or app can be used without All About Reading or All About Spelling.

Stephanie

says:

My children love using the tiles and it helps with the concepts.

Rebecca

says:

Great information for those of us just getting started.

Stacey Fox

says:

I would never teach All About Reading without the letter tiles! I love that it’s quick and easy and there are no tiles to keep track of.

Alex Donaldson

says:

I love the tactile interaction these letters provide!

Gina

says:

I’m just getting ready to get started with AAR for my boys. I’m a bit nervous, but this article is helpful. Thank you.

Alison

says:

The children love the colors and letters and making words with them!

Kelly

says:

A great way to engage students with technology while practicing the skills fundamental to the program.

Shelley

says:

After using a different program for my older 6 children but it didn’t work for my youngest, I am so thankful I found All About Reading. I will be hopefully using level 3 for reading and level 2 for spelling next year. Thank you. 🤗

Karolina

says:

We love the program! I’m so amazed I thought my child to read in English! English is my 2nd language!

Fawn

says:

Excellent idea for an multi sensory approach in learning to read and spell.

Maricel Buenaventura

says:

Thank you for this!

Barbara

says:

I really love the color tiles app. The physical tiles are fine except they took up a lot of space and inevitably seemed to take a lot of time to get back in order before a lesson. I love how quick we can access the app and do a quick review of some spelling rules. Color coding makes sense and I like the other reader’s idea to do it when diagramming sentences.

Audrey

says:

Thanks for this blog, so helpful! I had never heard of using colored letter tiles to teach spelling, although I used a colored note system to teach music to children who had a hard time with all the black and white, so this is a great idea that I will definitely be looking into.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Audrey,
Color coding works so well for teaching many things! Another way I’ve used it is with teaching parts of speech for grammar. I found my kids would forget the word “preposition” but could remember it was a purple word and new how it functioned in a sentence.

Mary Camp

says:

Learning alot.

Kimberly edwards

says:

My son loves these so much. It was such a big help when he was getting the hang of reading. Now i will have 3 more kids to teach it too. 😊

Jessica Cummins

says:

I have seen a huge improvement in my sons spelling!!! I am so thrilled!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

This is wonderful to hear, Jessica! Keep up the great work.

Erica

says:

I like that this teaches kids so many things in one simple exercise.
As a kid, I always liked activities that were fun and didn’t feel like school – using the iPad or making this into a game with a group of kids really would be a lot of fun for the kids at my library!!

C King

says:

We’ve used the physical letter tiles for years, but I would love to try the letter tile app!

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