Function Words for use in Everyday Communication

The reading scheme covers the first 400 functional words an English-speaking child learns to say and to understand, together with the first 200 common words. High frequency words and everyday topic words are revisited frequently in text and games in every book.

The child can easily relate their personal experiences to the story lines in the reading scheme. (The Lost Keys book features a topic on which most of us have spent large amounts of our personal time!) It also illustrates the key point of reading: that we read to understand a story, then think about it and finally relate it to something we ourselves know about.

Each illustration closely relates to the text to be read; also, where possible, Bella the cat is used as an additional reinforcement, mirroring the actions of the main character.

Categories for Natural Language

It is a natural language reading programme i.e. no “Once upon a time” or fantasy stories, but firmly grounded in reality. To ensure the child receives a complete set of words to communicate in their environment, the words are grouped into categories. Several books are used to deliver the complete vocabulary for each category, slowing building up the child’s communication levels. The purple oval in each book indicates the targeted categories for that book.

Sample Categories Sample Words
Dressing zip, buttons, slippers, swimming costume, gloves
Home bed, fridge, tv, kitchen
Family and People mum, dad, granny, babysitter, man, boy, girl
Social Words please, hello, thank you
Describing Words cold, hot, wet, dirty, hungry, sick
Event Words breakfast, dinner, party, lunch
Sample Communication Strategies
  • Use a standard question set such as: Who is in the story, What is the main event, Where does the story take place, What happens in the story, What happens in the end, What do you think about the story — do you like it or not.
  • Try finding a key word in the story that conveys meaning, and use this word to make simple sentences relating to the illustration. For example, where the word “bath” is used in A Big Mess, using the word bath, say “What is in the bath?”; “Water and bubbles are in the bath.”; “Where is the bath?”; “It is in the bathroom.”; “Don’s boat is in the bath”; “Don is wet!”
  • Use the Word Cards (Flash Cards) to record simple ideas right from the start to demonstrate that the written word is used to convey meaning. The book “Going on a Picnic” provides a good example — get your child to make the simple sentence: “I want a biscuit.” Follow this by getting a biscuit. This will allow him to use the written word to convey a request before he can write or spell, and demonstrates the benefit of using text to convey meaning in a simple and practical way.