Using the packets approach helps when a child has difficulty with blending, sequencing, auditory discrimination, the retrieval of sounds and spellings, or the difficult business of having to think about too many things at one time.
Blending: This approach makes a detour around blending because children who
can't yet blend sounds can usually spell this way. It's easier than sounding out, and
it's easier than out-of-the-air spelling. Also, children who can't yet handle the
"readback" save face because spelling is a grown-up thing to do. You kick away
the training wheels when your pupil can decode words without this preliminary step.
Sequencing: The beginning-middle-end boxes and the vowel path make it easy to sequence the letters correctly. Also, spelling with movable cards is a hands-on activity that keeps a child from reading or spelling the letters in the wrong order.
Retrieval: Many young children--and older students--have trouble pulling letter- sounds and letter-names out of their memory banks, even though they can choose a letter instantaneously when the correct letter-card is on the table in front of them. Letter-cards speed up a child's first encounters with words because recognition is easier and swifter than retrieval. With further practice, the words
are memorized and the training wheels can be kicked away.
Auditory Discrimination: Having three levels gives you flexibility. A child who is not secure with the short-vowel sounds should use the levels that have one vowel to a packet rather than Level Two with more than one vowel to a packet. Meanwhile, do ear training on a parallel track by playing the Go Fish games that go with the Mnemonic Picture Game and the Color Code.
Having too much to think about at one time: The miniature versions of the picture-letters and the beginning-middle-end boxes let the youngest beginners concentrate on listening to the sounds and putting the sounds together, without having to worry about remembering which letter they have just spelled. Once a child can think about everything at once, the training wheels can be kicked away.