Older struggling reader/writers frequently have never been taught to spell by sound. They have mostly relied on memorizing words. Many can see no logic behind English.

To help them achieve we need to change their ideas of reading and writing. To help them see that English is a code which takes the sounds we speak and translates them via symbols into marks on a page so others who know the code can change them back into speech.

We need to begin again by teaching these students the code, and helping them learn to blend the sounds to read and segment the sounds to write.

Old strategies of guessing need to be replaced by blending and segmenting right through a word.

There are 42 (44) sounds in English but we only have 26 letters to represent these sounds therefore we have to use combinations of letters (digraphs) to represent some sounds.

Once we have learnt the code then we can read and write the majority of words in English—even the long ones.

Jan Polkinghorne from SPELD SA has developed a series of Power point presentations containing activities to build basic phonic and spelling knowledge with students from year 5 upwards called SOS.

SOS (Spelling for Older Students) is a way to attempt to teach older students the code in an age appropriate fashion. It is designed to be presented as quickly as possible over two or three weeks as a concerted effort to remediate reluctant or struggling readers and writers.

With older students, it is important to screen them first to find out what level they're working at and provide activies to address the gaps. If you make the sessions fast and fun, include competitiveness, build in rewards, games and prizes, students will join in.

The following 15 lessons introduce the sounds s.a.t.i.p.n.k.e.h.sh.r.m.d.u.l.f.o and various ways of recording them. A list of about 50 non phonetic words are also introduced.

These Powerpoints are provided at no cost.

There is now a new version with 30 lessons made in Easiteach (PC only) which can be purchased for $15 with invoice or $5 for donation by contacting the office on 8431 1655 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Download First: Operating Instructions

Please click on the links below to save the files you wish to view to your computer. 

Each lesson is in a PowerPoint format, the teaching notes are in a PDF format.

SOS Lesson 1 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 2 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 3 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 4 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 5 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 6 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 7 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 8 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 9 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 10 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 11 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 12 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 13 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 14 Teaching notes
SOS Lesson 15 Teaching notes

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thyne reid foundationDepartment for education and child developmentaustralian executor trustees

SPELD SA would like to acknowledge the support of the Douglas Whiting Trust in the development of this website.

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