Chit-Chatting About the Phonics “Secrets!”

Secret Stories® Phonics— Spotting the "PH" Secret
Imagine you’re a beginning learner in Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade, and you’re told about the grown-up reading & writing “”secret”  al, and the sound they make when they get together in a word…
A and L love balls!
ALL balls… 
Footballs, baseballs, basketballs, volleyballs… 
ALL balls, ALL the time!!
Armed with this new reading and writing tool, you naturally begin looking for opportunities to use  it, not in a workbook or on a skill sheet, but in real life, just like real grown-ups do!
Take a moment and look around wherever you happen to be. Do you see the al Secret anywhere?   Maybe on a newspaper headline, or on a magazine cover?  Now imagine the text-rich environment of your classroom where opportunities for spotting this and other Secrets are literally EVERYWHERE!
Secret Stories® Phonics— Spotting the "PH" Secret

I’m often asked to create Secret Stories® practice pages and skill packs targeting individual Secrets, but aside from the few I’ve done for the “core” Secrets (i.e. Secrets of the Superhero Vowels®, Spotting Secrets, and Beethoven Blends) I’ve never felt this was necessary.

The best way to hone new skills is to use them, and the best use of the Secrets is for real-life, learner-driven purposes…. which abound in daily reading and writing! Applying the Secrets on workbook pages can’t compare to applying them to the reading and writing activities that are ongoing across the curriculum and throughout the entire instructional day!

And besides, there are so many outstanding and creative resources already available that offer natural reinforcement the Secrets! And since I’ll be doing a few guest posts for Deanna Jump this month on her blog, I thought I’m going to use one of her “Chit Chat” units as an example.

Katie Garner Guest Post on Deanna Jump's Blog
One of the best ways to build learner-automaticity with the Secrets is to provide rich, daily literacy experiences and activities that spur learner-interest so as to inspire use of the Secrets. Activities like Mrs. Jump’s Chit Chat (or any other flexible “open-ended” learning activity/framework) provide an ideal springboard for use of the Secrets for multi-purpose learning!
A consistent, yet flexible format makes for easy differentiation!
The consistent, and yet flexible format of the activities makes it easier for beginning learners to “multi-process.” The open-ended format encourages learners to simultaneously apply the Secrets they know, in conjunction with the individual letter/sound skills targeted (i.e. writing additional words that “start with the letter B” and contain one or more Secrets).
Combing both skill sets for one purpose allows learners to more fully engage with the activities while reinforcing their natural integration (i.e. use of the individual letter sounds and Secretssimultaneously, rather than having to wait to acquire/apply one before the other.) The result is natural, and thus, easy differentiation for a variety of skill-levels and instruction.
Mrs. Jump’s “Chit-Chat Morning Messages” on TpT!
These non-fiction Chit Chat units (below) 
are rich in content and naturally motivate learners application of the Secrets…


Rich, informational content, combined with vivid photographs and realistic illustrations inspire learners to read and write!
Connecting high-interest, non-fiction concepts to what learners already know and understand inspires them to “dig deeper” by reading and writing even more— sparking an interest in further reading, or planting a seed for an exciting, new writing idea, appropriately leveled, non-fiction text activities provide learners with unlimited opportunities to put the Secrets they know to use!

Secret Stories® are literally hiding behind every corner! 
More than anything else, what I love most about using the Secrets to read and write across the instructional day is that it clearly demonstrates the power that comes with owning these tools of our language! The Secrets give those who know them power over text!
For beginning learners, the ability to figure out new words on their own, as well as to write the words they want to use in their stories (regardless of whether or not it is on a sight word wall to copy) is an empowering feeling. And it’s this “power over text” that ignites learners’ desire to read and write MORE!  
The better we are at something, the more we like to do it… and the more we do it, the better we get…
and the better we get, the more we love to do it….
The worse we are at something, the less we like to do it… and the less we do it, the worse we get….
and the worse we get, the less we want to do it….
Get the idea?
Secret Stories® can be found around every corner and on every page of any book OR TpT activity! Anywhere there is text, there are an abundance of opportunities for introducing new Secrets and revisiting/reinforcing old ones!
Can you spot the Secrets on this page of Mrs. Jump’s Non-Fiction Chit Chat unit below?
(HINT- I’ve included some “secret: visual clues to help you spot them!)
Check out this “Spotting Secrets” resource on TpT that gives kids lots of fun practice! It even has thumbnail-sized visuals of some of the Secret Stories® pictures that kids can take home to share on the top of the practice pages!
Free Phonics Posters by Secret Stories
or to view the complete Classroom Kit versions, see the picture link, below.
Until Next Time,
Katie :-)

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68 replies
  1. Nicki says:

    I'm excited to start incorporating the secrets into my day. After several years of beginning my day with math journals I find that this year I will start my day with literacy due to a district schedule so what better way to get our brains going in the morning by using Chit Chats or morning messages. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Deb says:

    I love Secret Stories and Chit Chats and use both in my classroom. What a great idea to put them together. Super Duper!

  3. Marlene Rivera says:

    I would love to have this for my kindergarten students!!!!! I worked for a title 1 school and know that your products will help my students to become successful readers! Thank you!!!!!!

  4. Unknown says:

    I'll be using the Secret Stories this year with my ESL Specialist position. This would be a great addition! Love your easy learning techniques!

  5. Erika says:

    I am SO,SO interested in using secret stories and would LOVE, LOVE a class set. I think this could be incorporated so easily into my whole brain teaching techniques. I would be ECSTATIC to weave them together for some AMAZING reading progress!!! :)

  6. Mrs. Jordan says:

    I am a longtime Secret Stories fan! I would love to win this double treat! Every year my kinders make great reading and writing progress and I know that Secret Stories is a great part of that progress.
    Thanks to you and Deanna for this great giveaway!

  7. Tina says:

    I purchased your small poster set of Secret Stories last summer. Would love to add Chit Chat to my bag of teaching tricks. I really like how Chit Chats makes what they are learning about reading more concrete. :-)

  8. Kim says:

    I'm considering getting the Secret Stories and was wondering why the posters are printed on a red background. Does it tie in with brain research somehow? Also, are there blacklines of the posters I could get? Thanks!

  9. Happy TEacher says:

    I am very interested in Secret Stories. I like how the children apply the strategies to their reading and writing. I also like Mrs. Jumps Chit-Chat units. Thank you for the opportunity to win these two awesome products to help my little first graders become better readers and writers.

  10. Meghan says:

    I have been hoping to win this for our homeschooling. I teach five children under the age of 8, and it would definitely come in handy!!

  11. Katy says:

    I love using the Secret Stories in my classroom and I have seen tremendous growth with my first and second graders' reading ability and word attack skills. I would love to win a new classroom set of Secret Stories for my classroom!

  12. Renee says:

    I love that I have been using morning (Chit Chat) messages and now the opportunity to fully incorporate the Secret Stories will make for powerful learning.

  13. Wessel says:

    I am so glad you are offering this, I have been reading your blog/website all summer and would love to try it out. I did post comments here on your blog and Deanna's after your last blog about novelty in order to be entered for the giveaway, but I don't think I was signed in correctly so it may have not worked or shown up as anonymous. Oops!

  14. Frances Grasso says:

    Love your blog/website/emails! I have had the pleasure to attend your presentation at the California Kinder Conference (2008 or 2009) and loved your product. I do have a question… I work in Vallejo CA and we use Houghton Mifflin reading Can your product be used along side the state adopted Lang Art curriculum? I teach 1st grade and my class is usually 50% Ell's. Thanks, Frances

  15. Molly S. says:

    Thank you for showing how you implement the secrets in with simple interactive morning messages. It's great to see integration of ELA into other subjects!

  16. Katie Garner says:

    If you have the SECRET STORIES already, the best way to use them is as an underscore to EVERYTHING you do that involves reading and writing…. across the curriculum! Look at them a a set of building "tools" and the various reading and writing activities you do throughout the day as different "construction sites"…… you are going to access your "toolkit" whenever you are on a "construction site" :)

  17. Katie Garner says:

    Hi there! and oh if I only had a nickel for every time I was asked this question…. Lol!

    Yes, the posters are only available on red, and yes, it is due to the research showing that "black on red, primitive icon-based visuals" are the most effective presentation for "formulamatic data" (i.e. "logo-like" recall imprinting on the brain) as per it prompting the highest rate of recall)

    There is more on this on the Secret Stories website w/ links, if you're interested, in addition to the research on the pairing of the red with the yellow framing, as see on the new "Fun & Funky" poster sets, here-

    Hope this helps, and thanks for the great question!!

  18. Katie Garner says:

    Without question! The SECRET STORIES are "tools" and are NOT a program, which is what allows them to so easily underscore whatever you are already doing in your classroom, including supporting whatever language arts series (or even phonics program… although you won't need it ;) you happen to be using.

    Once you get them and begin sharing them, as needed throughout the day, you'll see what I mean. The "Secrets" provide what the reading series' don't… the "WHY" !!

  19. Katie Garner says:

    Absolutely, as there's no better way to use them than to apply them to what's going on "in the moment" and throughout the day… both IN the classroom and at home :)

  20. Hanna Lee says:

    The Secret Stories seem like they would be great in teaching my first graders! I would love to win a classroom set! Either way, I'll keep up on new posts to learn more about it…Thanks!

  21. MishBeau says:

    I love the Secret Stories…I have been using them for years…so long in fact I still have the old red and black signs…I would really love to update those signs this year…

  22. Katie Garner says:

    Thanks so much for following the blog, and I'm glad you're finding it of use! And I will make sure that you are part of the second drawing for those that posted at the beginning of this month as well, so don't worry…. I've already added your name to that group :)

  23. Kimberly Love says:

    Secret Stories is on of the most amazing resources I have come across!!! I would love my own copy for myself and my kiddos!! Have an amazing school year!!! :)

  24. Gaga says:

    I am using Secret stories in the classroom and forget sometimes so this would help me remember each day to talk about these great learning tools

Comments are closed.