Account
Contact
Search Blog 
815

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!


Share This:

< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Reply

Paula Marsh

says:

Great info

Lindsay Stancato

says:

I have twins that will be doing the same level. Can they each do their own things on the app?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great question, Lindsay.

Yes! The app easily resets with a swipe. It will work with any number of students. Check out our Our Top Tips for Using the Letter Tiles App for a video that will give you a good overview of many of the app features.

Suzanne Richardson

says:

I have a question about the example board shown. For the sound of /er/ (purple tiles), does the set include a ur tile? Also, I’m confused about ti making the /er/ sound? Can you please clarify? Thanks so much!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It does look like there is a ti tile in the purple “Sounds of /er/” section, doesn’t it? Great eyes, Suzanne! I had to zoom way in to see that, and then it was so blurry I’m still not sure.

There are 6 purple “Sounds of /er/” tiles. They are: er, ir, ur, or, ear, our. There is only one ti tile and it is green for the “Sounds of /sh/”.

If you look at our How to Teach Phonograms blog post, you will see our Phonograms Sounds application. It shows all the basic phonograms we teach, the sounds they make, and how they are categorized. (There are a handful of advanced phonograms, such as rh, taught in the higher levels.)

Now I’m off to look into getting that sample board image fixed! I’m sorry about the confusion!

Kris

says:

We love the letter tiles that go with the curriculum. I like how the y is both a red and a blue, most sets aren’t like this. We’ve used the physical letter tiles for AAR1 and AAR2 and love them. We just put them back in their place after each use to make sure we aren’t missing any :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for letting us know the letter tiles are working out well for you in All About Reading, Kris! Yes, having Y in both red and blue is such a great visual for how it can act as both a vowel and consonant.

If you do ever end up with missing tiles, please let us know. We will happily replace 5 or so tiles, free of charge.

Carley

says:

Is the letter tiles app going to be available anytime soon for Chromebooks?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carley,
We do not have plans to make the Letter Tiles App compatible with Chromebooks within the next year, and I’m unaware of any plans beyond that. It is a tablet app, available for:

– iPad: We are supporting all iPads released in 2013 to current models which are updated to iOS 13 and later.

– Android tablet: We are supporting all tablets running Android version 5.0 to the most current model.

– Amazon Fire: We are supporting most tablets since 2014 that are updated to FireOS 5 or later.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Jessica

says:

We are moving into level 3 with my 12 yr old and have been using the tiles. Are tiles utilized throughout the entire course? If so, how many additional tiles will be added throughout the following levels? We have the tiles through level 2 and I’m trying to decide if buying the app is worthwhile. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
Yes, the tiles are used throughout all the levels. If a student does not like using the tiles themselves, they don’t have to do so. However, the tiles will still be needed for teaching and demonstrating concepts. I found it helpful to require my students to use the tiles even when they normally didn’t if they were having particular difficulties with a word or concept. They really make everything much clearer for students!

There are additional tiles included with every level throughout the programs, with the exception of All About Spelling Level 5. It is the only level (other than Level 1 of both programs) that does not include more tiles.

The Letter Tiles app seems to be especially helpful for older students that may be resistant to the physical letter tiles.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Ada

says:

Hello! If I am purchasing the Reading and spelling programs, do I only need one of the interactive kits? Or do I need both the reading and spelling interactive kits?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great question, Ada!

The Basic Interactive Kits for reading and spelling have the same Letter Tiles and Magnets. So, if you purchase a reading kit, you would only need one or two components from the Spelling Interactive Kitt:

Spelling Divider Cards (You’ll need these to organize the customized review of the spelling cards.)
– Optional: Spelling Review Box (Or you can use a card box you find elsewhere.)

I hope this helps!

Renee

says:

I am looking for digital tiles that show common syllable pattern so my students can practice combining syllables to create words. I want to use this to enhance teaching how to use syllable patterns to help decode words. Does your product offer this syllable format?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Renee,
Interesting question. No, the Letter Tiles for Learning app does not include tiles with common syllables. Rather, the focus is phonograms. So while there is no tile for “con” (you would have to use the c, o, and n tiles), there is a tile for “igh” (as in high and fight).

Our Top Tips for Using the Letter Tiles App blog post has a couple of videos so you can get a better idea of what the app is like. Our How to Teach Phonograms blog post will show the phonograms you will see in the app.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have additional questions.

Kristin Deanne

says:

We received our level 2 materials. They are beautiful. It already feels bittersweet this curriculum ends with level 4!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Kristin!

Earlene M Sorrells

says:

awesome

angela eagle

says:

my granddaughter just turned four and this would be a great thing for her to advance her reading

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sounds great, Angela! We have plenty on our blog for preschoolers as well.

Melanie

says:

My son loves spelling with the tiles a lot more than writing the words!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad to hear your son enjoys the tiles so much, Melanie! Thank you.

Maryam

says:

Hello,

I appreciate this article, such a beneficial and easier way to reinforce learning for kids with developmental delays!
My son is developmentally delayed and he needs a lot of multisensory reinforcement to help words to stick in his memory. Letter tiles certainly looks like a plus!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

The letter tiles are very helpful for those with disabilities and delays, Maryam!

Amie Smith

says:

My 6 year old using AAR 1 prefers the physical tiles right now. It’s such a great way to make lessons more fun! It will be interesting to see if she will want to use the app as she gets older, my hunch is she will!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad we have options that will work with your child’s changing needs as she gets older, Amie!

Melissa

says:

I love the letter times for my son. Whenever he struggles with a word, we use the tiles and it helps pronounce the right sounds in the right order! It also breaks up reading practice for repetition!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It sounds like the Letter Tiles are working exactly as they should for your son, Melissa! Wonderful!

Meissa

says:

I absolutely love the letter tiles! My son’s 5 and the hands on component of the tiles fits his learning style perfectly. Plus he loves using the tiles to show his dad what he’s learned!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Meissa,
I love that your son uses the tiles to show his dad what he has learned! That’s a great way to reinforce learning and make it really stick.

Jill

says:

I am trying to decide if I should get the letter tiles or the app. If I purchase the app can I download it on more than 1 tablet? I have 4 kids that will be using this program and it would be great if I could be teaching on 1 and another could be practicing on the other. Also if I need to update my tablet because it breaks, etc. would I need to repurchase the app?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jill,
If all of your tablets are the same kind of device (for example, all iPads) and the app store accounts on each are the same or are connected through “Family Share”, then you can purchase the app once and install it on all the tablets. If your tablet breaks and you purchase a new tablet of the same type (types are iPad, Android, or Amazon), as long as you set up the new tablet with the same app store account you won’t have to repurchase to install the app on the new tablet.

Unfortunately, one app store purchase cannot transfer to another type of app store. So, if you have different types of devices (say an Android and a Kindle), you would need to purchase for each type of device. The programming that makes it work is different for each type.

Is this clear?

Jill

says:

Yes this is clear. Thank you so much for answering my questioning! We have mostly all Android except for one Amazon device (which we do not like) that was given to us. We will probably purchase the app. I like being able to take it with us when we go! Thank you so much!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jill! I’m glad this was helpful. Let me know if you need anything else.

Kim Renee Brown

says:

We are using the letter tiles for AAR and AAS and find them very helpful.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful to hear, Kim.

Darby Carel

says:

I feel like all of the different colors really help!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Darby! Grouping types of phonograms into colors allows them to organized together more easily in a student’s mind. It has to do with building mental schemas.

Sara

says:

What a useful Idea! Going to have to think of this, figure out how it will work for my little learners.

Amanda Ruth

says:

The letter tiles were a game-changer for my son. He became frustrated with having to “clean-up” the physical tiles every time we had a spelling lesson and we both lived in constant fear of his younger sister getting access to the board and messing them all up! The loves the speed and interaction of the app.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad the app is working out so well for you, Amanda! Thanks for sharing.

Christi H

says:

We use the app and I love that I don’t have little pieces everywhere and that I can easily do spelling on the go.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful to hear that the app is working out well for you, Christi!

Angela

says:

We use the physical tiles on our kitchen table…it has really helped my children get better at alphabetizing!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad the physical tiles are working out so well for your children, Angela! Working on alphabetizing is one great benefit of the physical tiles.

Tabitha

says:

We use the physical tiles and love them!

Maria Karagianni

says:

I will try it with the tiles, and I must first read how to teach alphabetizing!!! Thank you for sharing all this!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Did you see our How to Teach Alphabetizing blog post, Maria?

Joy MacKenzie

says:

We use the manipultive tiles all the time— they are a great tool.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad the tiles are such a great tool for you, Joy! Thank you.

Candace

says:

My son has fun moving the tiles around and trying to make new words. I like that it’s a low pressure way for him to explore, and he doesn’t feel bad if he makes a mistake.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a great benefit of the tiles, Candace! I love that they are low pressure for your son.

Amanda

says:

I love the idea of the app, I just wish there was a way for them to get the alphabetical order practice. Any ideas of how to get that without the physical tiles they have to organize each day?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
An easy way to work on alphabetizing is to use the yellow phonogram cards instead of the letter tiles. They are easy to shuffle and scramble too! Also, feel free to help with the alphabetizing. You can do every other letter or each work on sections of the alphabet. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to a child to do this on his own.

Our article on How to Teach Alphabetizing has more information and some activities you can use.

Other ideas:

Sing the alphabet song as you work on putting the phonogram cards in order. You can also give your child a fun pointer stick. As you both sing the alphabet song, your child should point to each letter as it is sung. Or, you say a letter, then they say and point to the next letter.

Another activity: lay out 4-6 phonogram cards. You call out a letter, and your child has to find and call out the following letter. If they get it right, they get to keep the card. For example, you might say “c,” and your child has to say and find “d.” Do this one with just a few letters at a time, rather than the whole alphabet. It’s more challenging to do this than to go through the entire alphabet in order, and a child may still need to recite the song to do this.

8 Ways to Use Refrigerator Magnets has some ideas that can work well for practicing alphabetical order. For example, for alphabet soup, your child could try to put the letters in the pan or pull them out in alphabetical order.

Swatting Phonograms activity. Have your child “swat” letters on phonogram cards as they recite the alphabet. You can also use the swatter for some pointer games (you say a letter, your child swats the next one).

Make a cookie alphabet together. Let your child help make some of the letters and bake the cookies. Then eat a few, “You can eat the cookie that comes after ‘f.’” And so on.

Sherry Baluch

says:

We love the physical tiles! We haven’t used the letter tiles app yet.

maria gentry

says:

What a great resource!