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How do you teach Heart words?

Posted by Maureen Pollard on

Little Learners Love Literacy introduces a minimum of Heart words in Stages 1 – 4. Heart words are a combination of high frequency words that are needed to create a story.

There are five words in Stages 1 & 2: my My the The I. These are words that children need to learn by heart, to read automatically in the decodable books, however you can point out the parts of the word they may already know for example the /m/ in my and My. The important part of the word the is teaching the articulation of /th/ - tongue poking out between teeth. Use the posters, Bingo games, flashcards from the Teacher Resource book USB and the activity pages from the Milo’s Activity book to practise reading these Heart words.

Stage 3 introduces six new Heart words: he she we to do was. As in Stages 1 and 2, follow the same teaching approach. Children will practise these words when reading the Pip and Tim series and the Wiz Kids. The new Heart word do is introduced in the Wiz Kids. At this stage children are building up a bank of words that they can recognize automatically. Use the posters, Bingo games, flash cards and the activity pages to support their learning.

Stage 4 introduces six new Heart words: her of are too for see. Children will be familiar with the concept of Heart words and the difference in approach to reading an unknown decodable word. Practice and success leading to mastery is the key.

Heart words take a huge leap in Stage Plus 4.

The word ‘a’ is introduced in Stage Plus4. This is the first time the children will have read the word a, to avoid confusion we recommend teaching the children to pronounce it as /ā/ as in apron. This is to address a common pitfall encountered with beginning readers – that is, the confusion of introducing the letter ‘a’ representing /a/ inside words but representing /u/ when it is a word in a sentence (I can see a hat).

The Heart word posters group words according to their phonemes, for example: say, day, play, plays and cake. You can refer to the phonemes and the code to help children learn these words; some children will be ready at this stage and enjoy making links between what they have learned about decoding and memorising heart words.

Stages 5 and 6 introduce interest words such as fireman, birthday, elephant, love, happy and zoo. It is always amazing that interest words such as chocolate and elephant are easily remembered by children. They are words that are a little more complex and some children will need more reading practice. Although there are a number of heart words introduced in these stages, the words are featured in only one or two books. Each book lists the heart words used in that story.

By Stage 7 the number of new heart words reduces dramatically as children already have knowledge of the common high frequency words.

Our Little Learners Love Literacy decodable books provide multiple opportunities for children to read engaging stories, beautifully illustrated with words they can read. We love hearing from children which character they like to read about.

For a free download of the Heart word posters go to:

  • Phonics
  • Heart words
  • teaching phonics