Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Make Your Own Letter Buddies!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Nov 10, 2016 4:02:00 PM

 Have you met the Letter Buddies? The Letter Buddies Series offers children an engaging way to familiarize themselves with the alphabet and build a strong foundation for literacy skills. From Blends Books that feature common consonant blends to LetterMats for snacktime exploration, Letter Buddies encourages learning in a variety of settings.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the series, though, is the line-up of Letter Buddy characters. Each letter in the alphabet is personified into a fun, eye-catching creature with a unique personality. Meet them all below!

Screen Shot 2016-11-07 at 12.14.20 AM.png

You can find a Letter Buddy in every book of the Letter Buddies series. The block-printed letter buddy characters will ensure that your student can recognize alphabet letters in various fonts, an important aspect of letter-shape knowledge.

As an oral language activity, have your student choose their favorite letter buddy. You can find each letter on the covers of the Letter Buddies Letter Books. Discuss that letter’s personality traits (jumpy, loud, kind), and then ask your student to make up a story about the letter.

What does Happy H like to do? Why do you think Happy H is happy? Who is Happy H’s best friendhameray-early-childhood-letter-learning-resources-teachers.jpg

The Letter Buddy characters only feature the 26 uppercase letters in the alphabet—why not make your own class set of lowercase letter buddies? Assign a letter to each student. Brainstorm together to think of a “describing word” (adjective) that starts with their letter but is different from the uppercase letter buddy’s adjective! For example, Chatty C’s lowercase friend might be “cute c.” This exercise will help the students identify different words that begin with a certain letter.

Once the describing word has been decided, have the students write their lowercase letter and illustrate it with hands, eyes, feet, etc. Assist the students in labeling their letter buddy. Compile everyone’s drawings into a class set of Letter Buddies! 

Who is your favorite Letter Buddy? Let us know in the comments below!


Click the image below to learn more about the Letter Buddies Letter Books series. Visit our website to see all of our Letter Buddies products!

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Topics: Letter Buddies, Beginning Letter Sounds, Letter Learning

Learning About Letters: Teaching Beginning Blends

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 22, 2013 2:07:00 AM

describe the imageYesterday we looked at some ideas for how to use books to teach beginning letter sounds (Click to Read). Today's topic is the next step in understanding beginning letter sounds: beginning blends.

A blend is a consonant cluster—a combination of two (sometimes three) letters that blend together to make a common sound, such as the sound "bl" in the word "blue." Which letters are "allowed" to blend varies by language; in English, for example, we do not blend "hr" or "ts" at the beginnings of words, but those blends are used in other languages. Blends are usually taught after students have learned the sounds of all of the consonants and the short vowels, but before long vowels.

Letter Buddies Blends Books teach children the next level of letter exploration. Once students grasp the sound that each individual letter makes, they are ready to explore how multiple letters sound blended together. A critical part of literacy learning is related to phonemic awareness. Just as children learn how to “hear” the first sound in a word using the Letter Books, the Blends Books will help them to distinguish 22 foundational beginning blends. 

Working with the Blends Books

describe the imageYour focus with these books is to draw children’s attention to the sound that consonants make when they are clustered together at the beginning of the word. You can use a modified version of the lesson shared yesterday for the Letter Buddies Letter Books to help young children understand this concept. It is important to link this new learning to the student’s knowledge of how they heard initial sounds in the Letter Books. For example,

  • “You know how to listen for the first sound in a word. Sometimes you will see two consonants at the beginning of a word. These are called blends. You can hear each sound in the blend as you say it.”
  • “This is the Blends Book.” (Start with a conversation about the two letters that go together, then continue through the book.) 
  • “This word says ______. Can you say ______?” (Point to the word as you say it.) 
  • “What are the two consonants that go together at the beginning of _______?”
  • “Can you say the sound the two letters make at the beginning of ______?”
  • Continue this procedure for each of the six pictures in the Blends Book.

Below is a flipbook that allows you to check out a sample Blends book and see how you might be able to adapt the lesson to fit whatever similar content you may have on-hand.


describe the imageThe Letter Buddies Best Friends are designed to accompany the Letter Buddies Blends Books. Similar to the Letter Books and Starters companion products, the same vocabulary words introduced in the Blends Books are now placed within the context of easy-to-read sentences with sight-word rich vocabulary in the Best Friends series. These books provide young readers with opportunities to continue developing early reading behaviors while reinforcing the vocabulary and letter skills learned with the Blends Books.

Working with the Best Friends

The Best Friends can be introduced in a similar fashion with a focus on developing strategic reading behaviors. Below are some other points to think about while working with the Best Friends in a group setting. When introducing a book, have the companion Blends book available.

  • Make sure to direct the children to the highlighted blends on each page and reinforce checking the picture with those highlighted letters to predict the correct word. Have the children practice hearing and saying the sentence stem (I like..., See the...)
  • Have the children locate high frequency vocabulary words.
  • Make a chart of which letters become “best friends” as you introduce the books.
  • Develop charts of words for each of the introduced blends that can later be used as a reference when children practice writing.

The Best Friends series can also be placed in your Literacy centers. The activity page at the end of each book is similar to the one in the Starters and can be completed independently. Encourage your students to pair up and read the books to each other, reinforcing fluent reading skills.

A foundation in segmenting words with blends and the engaging nature of work that children do with the Blends and Best Friends will ensure children’s success in reading and writing words.

This is the second installment of our three-part series on teaching letters and sounds to emerging readers. Check out yesterday's post and come back tomorrow for more ideas! If you'd like to learn more about our early literacy products, you can receive a copy of our catalog and you can download a prodcut overview of the Blends and Best Friends Series by clicking the images below.

- Tara Rodriquez

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Letter Buddies, Beginning Letter Sounds, Blends

Learning About Letters: Teaching Beginning Sounds

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 21, 2013 9:41:00 AM

children reading exciting 16243594 HvaldezMastering letters and sounds is a very important step in early literacy—it is one of the building blocks on which the rest of learning to read and write is built. Having the right activities and tools is crucial to success in teaching the necessary skills: letter-shape knowledge, letter-name knowledge, letter-sound knowledge, and letter-writing ability. With these skills in their repertoire, the exciting world of reading begins to open to students!

In order to read a word, a learner must be able to recognize the letters in the word and associate each letter with its sound. The goal is for the learner to be able to make the sound of each letter when shown the letters, think of more than one word that begins with each letter sound, name the letter that makes each sound when given the sound, and name the letter that a word begins with when given the word.

The more tools you have in your toolbox to expose students to letters and their sounds, the easier your students will find success. This post will cover some available tools and offer some ideas from the Letter Buddies teacher's guide on how to use them. The lessons can translate to a wide variety of similar products, but we use our own as an example here.

To begin with, Letter Buddies Letter Books provide the opportunity for exploration of the four elements of letter knowledge. Each letter book introduces six experienced-based vocabulary words that begin with the same initial sound. This series is an excellent resource that will help your students begin to make connections between letters, sounds, and words.

Several sets of the letter books will allow you to provide powerful letter instruction in your small groups. One benefit of the Letter Buddies Letter Books is that they can be “read” with minimal guidance and are often some of the first reading experiences for emergent readers.

describe the imageFront Cover

  • Use the illustrated scene at the top for great oral language warm-up and storytelling activities.
  • Begin by introducing the Letter Buddy (e.g.: explain what ‘active’ means in the A book) and tell 
the children that the book will have pictures that begin with that letter.
  • Have the children name the pictures that they see at the top of the cover and get them to predict why they might be there.
  • Direct the children’s attention to the textured uppercase and lowercase letter on the cover. Use verbal directions for letter formation. Have the children practice tracing over the textured letters several times while saying the verbal directions.

Inside the Book

  • Inside Cover – read the speech bubble above the Letter Buddy. Ask the children to point to each word while you read.
  • Title Page – ask the children to trace over the letters again, saying the verbal directions to reinforce proper formation. 
  • describe the imageAt this point, you should select what your focus will be for the reading of the letter book. 

  • If your focus is to draw children’s attention to the visual form of the letter (letter recognition), you would use language like this as you introduce each page:
    • “This is a _______.” (name the picture)
    • “This word says __________." (point to the word as you say it)
    • “Can you find the letter _____ at the beginning of ______?” (name the letter and the word)
    • “Point to it.” (child points to the first letter of the word)
    • “Good. _______ starts with the letter ________.” (name the word and the letter)
    • Continue this procedure for each of the six pictures in the letter book.
  • If your focus is to draw children’s attention to the sound the letter makes in the initial position of the word (letter-sound knowledge), you would use language like this as you introduce each page:
    • “This is a ____________ .” (name the picture)
    • "This word says __________.” (point to the word as you say it)
    • describe the image“Can you hear the _________” at the beginning of _________ ?” (say the sound of the letter and then the word, putting emphasis on the initial sound)
    • “Say __________ .” (child says the word slowly)
    • "Show me the __________ .” (say the sound of the letter)
    • "Good. _________ begins with __________.” (name the word and the sound)
    • Continue this procedure for each of the six pictures in the letter book.
  • Activity Page – This activity is the same through all the books. Once you have demonstrated what to do, children can practice and review independently or in pairs.

Back Cover

  • All the Letter Buddies are presented in alphabetical order providing more opportunities for conversation and practice.
  • Have the students locate the Letter Buddy for the particular book you are working with. 
  • Have the students locate other Letter Buddies they know. 
  • Have the students name the letters in alphabetical order.

Below is a flipbook of the book used in this example, so you can further explore the words that it offers.

describe the imageTo cover the topic more in-depth with your students, repetition and thorough exposure are key. The Letter Buddies Starters series was developed to accompany the Letter Buddies Letter Books. In this series, the same six vocabulary words introduced in the Letter Books are used in a simple story, placed within the context of a sentence. PreK–K sight words (based on the Dolch list) and repetitive sentence stems are used throughout each story to provide young readers the opportunity to practice and develop early reading behaviors.

Following is an example of how you can lead a guided reading lesson using the Starters. In your small group, give each child a copy of Look at Me! (Starters Book – L). You will also need a copy of the Letter Book L.


  • Engage children in a short conversation by naming things on the cover: “Remember when we looked at Loud L’s letter book and talked about the things that begin with ‘L’? Today we have a new book. It’s called Look at Me! In this story we’ll see the same things we saw in Loud L’s letter book. Let’s look at the front cover and find them!”
  •  Introduce the sentence stem in the story: “In this book, Loud L is going to ask us to ‘look at’ these things.”

Title Page

  • “Let’s turn to the title page and read the title together. Make sure to point to each word while you read.” (Develop early reading behavior: one-to-one matching)

describe the imagePage 2

  • “What do we see in the picture?” (Use the picture to support meaning)
  • “Right, it’s Loud L and a lion. Loud L wants us to: Look at the lion.” (Reinforce the introduced sentence stem)
  • “Let’s point and read this page.” (Practice one-to-one matching)
  • “Good, I like how you pointed to each word as you said it.” (Reinforce one-to-one matching)
  • “There’s a word you know on this page...‘the’. Can you point to the word ‘the’?” (Prompt for an early behavior: locating a known word)
  • “Good! It helps when we look for words we know when we read.” (Explain why certain reading behaviors are helpful: recognizing sight words)

Page 3

  • “Here’s Loud L with a lamb. Let’s read about it.”
  • Children read. 
  • “How did you know that 
word was ‘lamb’?”
  • Child responds that the 
picture shows a lamb and points to the word saying it starts with ‘l’. 
  • “Good noticing. It helps to look at the picture and check the first letter of a word we’re not sure of.” (Reinforce crosschecking behavior)

Pages 4–6

  • Continue a similar conversation across pages 4-6, encouraging children to check the picture, then identify the first letter of the word and its sound.

describe the imagePage 7

  • “What does Loud L want us to look at on
this page?” Child answers ‘lips’.
  • “How do you know it’s lips?” Child talks about how Loud L is eating the lemon and lemons are sour.
  • “Good prediction.” (Comprehension strategy)
  • “Let’s run our finger under that word. Does it look like it says ‘lips’?” (Say word slowly to reinforce visual checking of whole word)
  • “Right, it is ‘lips’ and I like how you checked the picture and the word.”
  • “Let’s look at the end of the sentence. Here’s the exclamation mark we’ve seen in our other books. How do you think we’d read this sentence?” (Read punctuation to enhance fluency)


  • “Now turn to the beginning of the story.
 I want you to read Look at Me! by yourself. Remember to point to the words while you read and check the pictures and the first letter of each word.
  • Children read the story.

Activity Page

  • At the end of the lesson, ask the children to turn 
to the last page of the book—the activity page. Demonstrate how to create the next page of the story. As the children begin this task, you can move on to work with another group.

As with Letter Buddies, you can look through the flipbook below to get an idea of what else it contains.

This is only the first installment in a three-piece series on how to teach letters and their corresponding sounds to emerging readers. Check back tomorrow for more lesson ideas! If you're interested in learning about other early literacy products, you can click below to request our catalog or download a one-page series overview on the Letter Buddies Letter Books.

- Tara Rodriquez

 Hameray 2016 Catalog Request  New Call-to-Action


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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Letter Buddies, Beginning Letter Sounds

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