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BUILDING BLOCKS (Souns)- Literacy begins with the hand!

839 Highway 314, Fayetteville, GA. 30214

Review by Linda K. Foster

Reading is pivotal to success in life and, yet, is one of the most difficult skills to learn. Souns is an informal early learning program for infants and toddlers to learn and develop reading skills using their hands as an integral part of the process. Souns places specifically designed and sequenced letters of the phonetic alphabet into the hands of infants and toddlers at the most crucial age, between 5 months and 24 months. In this manner, learning becomes incidental, natural, and fun.

Building Blocks
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Souns offers a collection of twenty sound symbols specifically chosen and sequenced for contrast in shape and sound, as well as ease of articulation for young children. To further enhance the learning experience, shirts embroidered with sound symbols are available in primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, along with a well-written and easy-to-follow guide booklet.

The mission of Souns is to affect literacy by believing in and following the natural sensitivities of the child. Success with Souns is evidenced in the following journal written by a parent who started using the Souns program when her son was 13 months old. This excerpt is printed with the parents’ permission.

By Kellie Porter


December, 2005-

When my son, Asa was 13 months old, he received his first set of Souns. Together, we opened the box and explored its beautiful contents. I found the “o” and placed it in Asa’s hands. The first thing he did, even before looking it over, was put it in his mouth. Asa mouthed  his first “o” for several weeks before he actually said “o.” We kept the “o” in a toy basket with his other toys.

January, 2006 –

Each Friday, Asa and I would go to the library for music and reading group. One of Asa’s favorite songs was “Old MacDonald.” When we got home, I could hear Asa singing this song to himself in the living room, but he had made a special adaptation: “Old MacDonald had a farm/Ee-o-ee-o-oh”! He was playing with his “o” as he sang a familiar tune. While eating Cheerios, he would say “o” every time he picked up, examined and ate a Cheerio.

I decided to give him another sound – “m.” It took him only a week this time, and when he said “m” he would usually say “mmm-mama.” This was a connection he made on his own. Of course, I was thrilled. I quickly gave the “s” and he repeated the sound immediately.

February, 2006 –

I bought a basket to keep Asa’s three sounds in and stored it on a low shelf. Sometimes I pulled them off and played with them (spinning the “o” and hooking the “s” to the “m”), but mostly Asa would grab for them. At this point, he was walking very well and would carry his sounds around the house, repeating them over and over – “sss sss sss sss” (as in the video we sent). He tapped his sounds on he hardwood floor, the wicker chair, the windowsill and, yes, sometimes on the glass. He held them up to our kitty – “mmmm” and “o.” He would drag out the “mmmm” and spray short burst of “sss sss sss” and a high-pitched “o” that was over in an instant. Souns were in the air.


March, 2006 –

Asa was now 16 months old and received his second set of Souns. He first played with the “t” and repeated the sound the same day. A few days later, he had “p” and this was instantly one of his favorites. He loved saying “p” and would giggle a lot and then break out into laughter. He chuckled sometimes for a minute before repeating “p” – and then hysterics all over again. One day, he carried “p” back to his room and fell asleep with it firmly in his hand.

We gave him the “e” next and it took him a couple of weeks to get the sound.

April and May, 2006 –

We traveled much of the month of April. Asa took his Souns and, by the end of May, he would play games with us that involved hiding the symbols, having us look for them and putting them into his basket one by one. We found Souns in couch cushions, kitchen cabinets and in his favorite hiding spot: under the rug.


June, 2006 –

 In June, we received the third set of Souns – “i,” “h,” and “a.” Asa sounded each of them out very quickly. He loved the “i,” particularly the dot. The “h” symbol was fun to say and “a” was somewhat challenging. We started word games to help him hear “a” – we would hold an apple (or eat one) and look at apples in a book. After that, he never confused “a.”

Asa kept playing games with his Souns, including hiding them, putting them in his basket and then taking them all out again.

My son loves to shell peanuts. While eating peanuts for snack one day, Asa ran into the living room and grabbed his “p” and brought it back to the table. He was talking to himself saying “p, p, peanut.”

July, 2006 –

One day early in July, we were walking to the park. There was a new sign up next to the sidewalk that said “For Sale.” Asa walked up to the sign, pointed to the “o” and said “o” – and then did the same thing with the “s.” I couldn’t believe my son was sounding out the sound symbols on different signs of even objects that looked like sound symbols, like squiggly lines or circles.

August, 2006 –

We kept playing word games, and had the basket of Souns in the living room ready for Asa whenever he wanted to play with them. He helped choose what Souns shirt he would war for the day, and then he would look for the sound symbol that matched his t-shirt. Asa started to talk “funny”, exaggerating words as he sounded them out: “brush my ttteeth – tttoothpasttte” and “want my hhhaattt mmmammma.” There were Souns all around.


September, 2006 –

In September, we were in a Montessori classroom for a few weeks. Asa could pick the sounds out of the moveable alphabet; the teacher was amazed. He was playing sound (phonetic) games with 4 or 5-year-olds before he was even two!

October and November, 2006 –

Asa turned two years old and received two sets of Souns – the set with “f,” “u,” and “b” and another containing “w,” “n,” and “d.” At this point, Asa recognized the box and was very excited to have new sounds to work with. We were able to give him a sound each day – he was begging for them! First “f”, then I accidentally gave him the “n” upside-down, so that it looked like a “u” to Asa. The next day, I traced the “n” in the correct position with my finger. Asa traced it, too, and started to say “n. Even though he had both the “u” and “n” at the same time now, he didn’t confuse the two sounds after that.


December, 2006 –

One year to the month after receiving the first set of Souns, Asa “wrote” his first word. We went to the kitchen for a cooking pot. I asked him what sounds he heard in “pot” – he slowly sounded out p-o-t, then handed me the “p,” then the “o” and, finally, the “t.” I said, “Asa, you wrote the word pot!” We later did the same thing with the words “hat” and “up.”

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