U for Umbrella or U for Unicorn: How Phonics Sparked a Reading Revolution for My Children

U for Umbrella or U for Unicorn: How Phonics Sparked a Reading Revolution for My Children

Once upon a time, the "Alphabetic Method" was the conventional wisdom in teaching children to read. This approach asserted that children should read for meaning right from the start, relying on memorized sight words and using context and picture cues. This was how I was introduced to reading, where words were memorized based on their appearance. But times have changed, and a new star has risen in the reading education sky - the phonics system. What truly amazed me was when my own children embraced this approach, quickly mastering the art of reading. Their journey into the realm of literacy prompted me to explore the magic of phonics-based learning, eventually inspiring the creation of the Milleli busy board, a delightful learning toy that champions this effective method.

The Shift to Phonics:

Contrary to my own reading initiation, my children embarked on their reading journey through the lens of phonics. This approach encourages children to grasp the connection between letters and their unique sounds, resulting in a more intuitive and enjoyable reading process. What struck me profoundly was how effortlessly my kids decoded words by piecing together letter sounds. Their ability to not only read memorized words but to decipher unfamiliar ones left me in awe.

Milleli's Phonics-Powered Approach:

In the wake of this revelation, I crafted the Milleli busy board - a wonderland of learning for toddlers that perfectly aligns with the phonics approach. As a busy board designed with little learners in mind, it sparks curiosity through play and exploration. Each letter on the board pairs with an object or concept that echoes its sound, establishing a firm foundation for reading while making learning an enjoyable adventure. For instance, "I" becomes associated with an igloo, not an ice cream cone, and "U" signifies an umbrella, not a unicorn. The symbiotic relationship between letters and sounds becomes a treasure map leading kids into the world of reading.


Promoting Phonics Learning:

Whether you're a parent or educator, stepping onto the phonics path and guiding a child's reading journey can be immensely rewarding. Here are some imaginative activities to immerse your young learners in phonics:

  1. Sound Quests: Embark on sound-filled adventures around your home or classroom. Encourage kids to discover objects with specific letter sounds, turning learning into a playful quest.

  2. Letter-Image Matchups: Utilize flashcards featuring letters on one side and corresponding images on the flip side. Children delight in matching the letter to the right image, all while honing their phonics prowess.

  3. Phonics Puzzles: Construct puzzles where kids must piece together letters and images that share the same initial sound. The tactile nature of this activity reinforces the vital connection between letters and their sounds.

  4. Phonic Tales: Seek out books that spotlight phonics patterns and sounds. Engage kids by asking them to identify words that echo a specific letter's sound.

  5. Phonics Expedition: Conceal miniature objects throughout a space, each matching a different letter sound. Provide clever clues to guide youngsters in uncovering these phonics treasures.


The journey from letter recognition to literary finesse has undergone a transformation, with the phonics approach shining as a beacon in children's reading education. As a parent, experiencing the enchantment of phonics-based learning firsthand has been enlightening. The Milleli busy board stands as a testament to the transformative power of learning toys, seamlessly blending into the realm of early years learning resources. Created as a busy board for toddlers, it effortlessly bridges playtime and education.

By nurturing the bond between letters and sounds, this innovative tool becomes a stepping stone for children embarking on their reading journey. Whether as parents, educators, or caregivers, embracing phonics through interactive and engaging methods like the Milleli busy board can sculpt a child's path to literacy, ensuring that their early years are brimming with growth and happiness.

Remember, it's not just "U" for umbrella or unicorn; it's "U" for understanding, embracing, and unlocking the pure joy of reading.

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