Eyewords was created by teacher Jennifer Orr in collaboration with a team of educators, speech and language pathologists, researchers, graphic designers, and computer programmers in an effort to address a need to differentiate reading instruction for young learners. Eyewords was initially developed to complement existing phonemic awareness instruction in kindergarten classrooms by providing a holistic approach to teaching the high frequency words, many of which cannot be decoded phonetically. In addition to boosting the overall effectiveness of kindergarten literacy programs, it was quickly discovered that Eyewords has a tremendous benefit to children who struggle to read through systematic phonics instruction alone. Our core belief is that learning to read can be a fun, easy and exciting process for all.
Research shows that pictures can increase the relevance of a sight word and children’s motivation to learn it, and they can also provide an extra cue that assists learners in determining the word’s meaning. Having visual, verbal and kinesthetic input when learning a sight word can also help learners form a stronger memory trace, deepening their association between the sight word and its meaning. Additionally, kinesthetic movement in the form of play while reviewing the cards increases students’ engagement and ability to retain the words they are learning.
To bridge the gap between auditory short term memory and decoding, I worked with the natural inclination of very young children towards visual and kinesthetic learning and focused on the memorization of sight words with the use of pictures.
– Jennifer Orr