Magical I Am
  • Home
  • The Game
  • For Parents

Why a Learning to Read Paradigm Shift to Whole Word Mastery?

Bill Allen
Bill Allen
Nov 24, 2023

Basic Understanding #1:   

Independent of all styles of Reading Technology, there are two kinds of words, concrete and abstract. Concrete Words (like “house, coat, lemon”) have a physical representation that can be seen, heard, felt, tasted, or smelled by everyone.  In contrast, Abstract Words (like “in, where, if, then”) have no concrete, physical existence. They cannot be experienced with our physical senses. They exist in thought or as an idea. One of the names Teachers often use for “Abstract words” is “Sight words,” and they often use rote practice and memory to teach children to read them. 

Basic Understanding #2: 

Individuals learn in different ways, and there is no 1 reading program that can optimally teach every child to read. 

* * * 

The Reading Wars 

Believe it or not, the Reading Wars have been going on for over a century. That said, the public really did not get engaged in them until the mid-1980s, when notice was taken that the US's reading and writing proficiency scores had continued to drop decade after decade since the 1960s.  Since then, the seemingly endless Reading Wars focus on two learn-to-read methodologies –  Whole Language and Phonics. Currently, the Reading Wars are making a big swing back towards Phonics with the popularity of the Science of Reading (SOR) learn-to-read methodology.  SOR claims that they have the answer for learning-to-read instruction. SOR’s five pillars of reading instruction are phonemic awareness, Phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. 

Defining the Differences of the Two Reading Wars Programs 


The alphabets of the English written language and any Phonics program have in common the familiar (A to Z), 26 flat, 2-dimensional letters for both upper- and lower-case alphabets – which are all abstract symbols. That is all they have in common. 

Phonics is confusing for everyone to learn to use, and remembering to implement all of its rules with their exceptions is mind-boggling for any student.  In addition to the common English alphabet, which is a set of abstract symbols, a child has to learn in Phonics a notable number of the Phonics notations that consist of flat, 2-dimensional, abstract symbols, and reversed or capitalized letters to represent phonemic sounds of parts of a word or of a whole word. Furthermore, there are a plethora of Phonics rules, and just about every one of these rules has multiple exceptions to them.  

A typical illustration of the difficulty in learning with this method is the flat, 2-dimensional Phonics symbols used for the sounds of the word “confusion” follows:     


In Phonics, the sounds for the parts of a word are physically experienced, however phonemic sounds for parts of a word have no actual physical representation that can give meaning to the sounds, much less to the word they are part of. 

For many students, Phonics is almost like learning a separate language (that of the Phonics’ abstract sounds, abstract rules, and abstract symbols for letter groups and sounds) at the same time that the individual is attempting to learn to read the English language. “Children are taught to dissect unfamiliar words into parts and then join the parts together to form words. By learning these letter-sound relationships the student is provided with a decoding formula that can be applied whenever they encounter an unfamiliar word.”[1]  This requires a mind that is good at thinking logically and with concepts that are abstract (meaning that they lack a physical world representation to be sensed). 

For the dyslexic and anyone that has the propensity to think in an inordinately high percentage of 3-dimensional thought, this is usually an overwhelmingly confusing learning aid. This is probably why Phonics-based dyslexia learning-to-read schools seek a three-year parental financial commitment for the child just to learn to read. Moreover, learning to communicate effectively with writing is even more difficult for a significant percentage of these three-year school graduates.  

Another drawback is that Phonics uses the outdated rote and drill learning-to-read methodology—a dreaded activity by ALL involved in the learning process. The net effect of hours of rote & drill instruction is that it turns children off from the desire to read, much less the love of reading.  It’s hard to believe, but many in the SOR camp advocate two hours of Phonics training daily. Crazy! 


The Whole Language methodology exposes students to the wonder of stories and lots of words through short stories or books. However, there is no actual instructional method for learning to read these words. “The ‘sounding out’ of words that is so central to Phonics is not used in Whole Language learning. Instead, children are encouraged to decode each word through its larger context.”[2]

 The biggest drawback to this reading system is that when reading, the student is encouraged to guess at a word, and their word choice is seldom accurate. Therefore, the net result in Whole Language reading is that comprehension of what the author is attempting to convey is inaccurate or, at best, compromised dramatically. Fortunately, most teachers today recognize that guessing and its next closest of kin, memorizing, are the enemies of learning. 

 * * * 

 The Reading Statistics… U.S. Literacy is low. [3]

 A good definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. For too many decades now, the US has been oscillating between these two learning-to-read methodologies, with some minor tweaks here and there in an effort to improve them. However, after decades of Reading Wars too many of our elementary children are still failing to read at grade level, and they are likely to become part of the U.S. illiterate adult population that the government spends billions annually to support because they cannot support themselves. 

ADULTS: One analysis of the U.S. Department of Education data shows that 54% of American adults (130 million adults) ages 16-74 read below 6th Grade Level. And, 13% (43 million) adults cannot read, write, or do basic math above 3rd Grade Level.  The average American is considered literate  at the level of 7th or 8th grade reading; and yet an 8th grade book cannot be read by 50% of American adults. Literacy is required to make a living wage in the US. 

 CHILDREN: Only 35% of public-school students are proficient in Grade 4.   

1 in 6 teens (1.2 million) drop out of High School each year; and the largest part of this group in the study had low academic performance since kindergarten.  

In Georgia, only 35 percent of fourth graders are reading at or above grade level. In addition, 64 percent of eighth graders are reading below grade level, whereas 36 percent are reading at or above grade level. [4]

* * *  

Let’s Move Beyond The Reading Wars 

The time is now for a Reading Paradigm Shift to educate the more than 1/3 of the U.S. elementary school population that is falling behind grade level in reading. 



To master reading a written word, a child must have in their brain seemingly simultaneously:  

What the word Looks like (its spelling) 

What the word Sounds like 

What the word Means

Whole word mastery occurs when a child confidently and with certainty knows all three parts of the word, and regularly reads it in text with fluidity and comprehension. 

* * * 

The Architecture of Magical I Am’s Paradigm Shift –  

Sky Village – Trail of Spells edutainment app 2023 

Master 3-D Learning to Read Methods 

3-D learning methods provide tools designed to use the learning strengths of the 3-D learner, so they can easily and successfully learn to read. 

The Sky Village – Trail of Spells edutainment app engages a child through an adventure into the mysteries and discoveries within Sky Village.  The app is a  gamification of Magical I Am’s 3-D learning tools and methods that promote 3-D mastery of reading every word in a sentence. 

 3-D Management of the Mind’s Eye enables the player to develop consistent and reliable perception of written words and symbols. 

3-D Mastery of Upper- and Lower-case Alphabets is the first essential abstract symbol tool to master before fluent reading can begin. 

3-D Mastery of just 14 Punctuation Marks provides the reading rhythm and significance of the groups of words in every sentence; the punctuation marks clarify the meaning of the sentences, i.e., the author’s message. 

3-D Mastery of the Most Commonly Read Sight Words and Abstract Symbols. 

3-D Mastery can occur when, seemingly at the same moment, the child’s brain experiences the Look (spelling) of a word, the Sound of a word, and the Meaning of a word. Sight words tend to be the words that cause interrupter reading disability symptoms: hesitate, insert word, omit word, replace word, misread word, miss a punctuation stop, or skip line(s). 

Reading Sentences with Easy Written Word Vocabulary Builder makes reading a sentence a more fluid experience, and promotes recognition of written words and improved comprehension.  When a child goes into elementary school, they have a verbal vocabulary of a kindergartner or first grader or possibly higher. They just don't recognize the words on paper. So, when they're reading text that's 1 to possibly 4 levels below what they can speak, they need a way to recognize written words they know the meaning of verbally. If you, the parent, have them spell the unknown word that stopped their reading; next, you pronounce the word and they verbally recognize it; then they say the word and they keep reading.  The result is: 1] more word recognition starts to take place; and 2] they're able to read the sentence more fluidly with better comprehension. 

Learn While Having Fun   

Fun occurs while playing the first-of-its-kind, digital, role-playing, edutainment game Sky Village – Trail of Spells, and learning happens along the way.   

Behavior that brings success favors producing more of the same behavior.  Role-playing in Sky Village - Trail of Spells encourages the player to immerse themselves in the success of solving puzzles, discovering mysteries, and along the way, learning to read. Their successes carry them to play more, and thus they learn more.  When reading is no longer a burden, they discover the joy of reading.  

Enjoy Gamified Delivery  

Gamification encourages engagement and the 3-dimensional mastering of all words of a story.  Along the way, the child discovers that learning to read can be fun.  

* * * 

Why Make the Shift? 

Not All Children Learn In The Same Way 

All children develop the ability to think verbally and nonverbally as they grow.   For some children, 3-dimensional thinking remains their strongest thinking style, other children may develop concrete thinking, abstract thinking, deductive thinking, or in intuitive thinking as their strongest style of problem-solving and understanding the world. 

The 300 Most Commonly Read Sight Words and Abstract Symbols have to be mastered with 3-dimensional learning tools because they have no physical world representation to give them meaning. Yet, in grades 1-4, over 50% of the texts they read consist of Sight words and abstract symbols. While reading, these Sight words inconsistently create confusion and many of a child’s interrupter reading disability symptoms. 

Parents And Schools Need Tools That Work For The Young Learner And That Are Affordable…  

For teaching young, predominantly 3-D learners to read at grade level, parents and schools need tools that do not require the expense of tutors, or special programs or schools they cannot afford.  The Sky Village – Trail of Spells app is free to play the first 20 words, and then requires a minimal cost for accessing the rest of the app.  No tutors and no expensive educational programs are required to make the app work – your child does the work while playing the game and solving the puzzles and mysteries. 

Young Children Learn To Read and Love To Read   When They Are Successful at Learning To Read

Benefit of Gamified Delivery of a Learning-to-Read Tool 

Children love to play digital games and need little supervision to do so. 

The game can be played anywhere on an Apple or Android mobile phone or tablet. 

Playing a game reduces the time a child drops into the habit and prolonged confusion of sounding out an unknown word while reading.  

Their great reading shift occurs when they stop trying to sound things out and no longer fall into the trap of being lost in Phonics techniques that interrupt their comprehension of what they're attempting to read. 

Six Steps to Whole Word Mastery 

Since all children who have the ability to think verbally and nonverbally (3-dimensionally) use sight and sound as their dominant senses at work when they read, it is imperative that children accomplish the 3-dimensional mastery of the following tasks: 

Go to The Spot

Alphabet(s) Mastery Punctuation Mastery

Play Sky Village – Trail of Spells 

Master All of 300 Commonly Read Sight Words    

Read with your Child  

Once these 6 steps are accomplished, then the student can begin the task of building up their written vocabulary to match their verbal vocabulary

Where you will find Instruction for Learning 3-D Reading Skills:  

1. Play Sky Village – Trail of Spells; have the fun of exploring the adventure and mysteries of playing a game while you also learn how to 3-dimensionally master reading the 300 Most Commonly Read Sight (Abstract) Words. 

 LINK to the STORES – App Store and Google Play links  

2. The Importance of and the Management of the Mind’s Eye:   Learn to “Go to the Spot.

The Mind’s Eye - The Spot

Go to the Spot - instructional video 

3. The 3-Dimensional Mastery of the Upper and Lowercase Alphabets: 

Alphabet(s) Mastery - Instruction for Clay   

Alphabet Letters to Make your Clay Alphabet(s)  

4. The 3-Dimensional Mastery of just 14 Punctuation Marks:  

Punctuation Mastery 1,2,3 - instructions   

Punctuation Mastery 1,2,3 - instructional video

Punctuation Pause  - instructional video  

5. Understand the Role of Sight Words and Abstract Symbols;   Master all 300 of the Commonly Read Sight Words (abstract words).  What Is It about Sight Words and Abstract Symbols That Interrupts Reading Comprehension?    

6. Read with Your Child: 

Easy Written Vocabulary Builder Tool   Use this tool to build your child's written word recognition by connecting them to their verbal vocabulary and understanding.  

* * * 

Learn to Read, so You can Read to Learn.™ 

[1] Phonics vs Whole Language … Which is Better? Jenny Curtis; 

[2] IBID

[3] 84+ Literacy Statistics in the US for 2023, Alvin Parker, 3-15-23. 

[4] 2020, the National Children’s Book and Literacy Statistics…  

Share now

Recent Articles

Upper and Lower Case Letters for Alphabet Mastery Clay Writing Activity

Bill Allen
Bill Allen
Dec 05, 2023

Why a Learning to Read Paradigm Shift to Whole Word Mastery?

Bill Allen
Bill Allen
Nov 24, 2023

Ten Steps to Correct Dyslexic Reading

Bill Allen
Bill Allen
Aug 12, 2023
View all
Copyright © Magical I Am™, Inc. 2024. All rights reserved.
Corporate siteContact the TeamOur TeamSitemapPrivacy PolicyTerms and Conditions
Magical I Am
Magical I Am
Magical I Am