Saturday, April 22, 2017

How to Teach the "Sounds of Y" so that kids GET IT!

The "Prequel" to the SECRET STORY about Sneaky Y®!
Yes, it really can be THAT easy! 

"The Secret Stories® are the lifeblood of our classroom.  They are always in view, always in our whole group and small group conversations.  We can't read words without them.  They are our best friends.  They are the tools the students are taking with them to second grade!"              
Tara S./ 1st Grade Teacher
I want to apologize for the long delay between blog posts, as I definitely overdid it this year with my conference and PD schedule, and now I have so many exciting things to share that I don't even know where to start!

So, I've decided to break up all that I want to share into bits and pieces over the next couple of weeks in a series of blog posts, so if you're subscribed to my blog, you won't miss a trick— beginning with a sale on the latest digital Secret Stories® product—
"Sneaky Y®'s Secret!" w/Guided Reading Puppet Craft for 3 Sounds of  Y!

This "prequel-like" story tells Sneaky Y®'s Secret, and explains how he actually got so sneaky!  I want to thank Susan Eklove and the "other" Susan of Poco & Pop for their brilliantly creative story and illustration adaptations.  (Keep an eye out for similar Secret Story "prequels" about the Superhero Vowels®, Mommy E® and the Babysitter Vowels®, which are currently in the works!)

"Sneaky Y®'s Secret" will be on sale through Monday!

And for those who are reading this that 
don't know the "SECRETS" and are wondering about the sound that makes in words like they, play and day, that's not Sneaky Y®, that's the ey/ay Secret, as shown, below and discussed here this previous post.

And if you're following me on Twitter, or if you' "like" Secret Stories® on Facebook, then you may have have also seen these cute renditions by both students AND teachers....

Now this teacher really IS just "too cool!"  Ayyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeee!  
(And if you're reading this blog post as an email and can't view this video, it's definitely worth clicking onto the actual blog post to watch!) 

And there's lots more where that came from! 
Some incredible teachers from Washington State spent two months creating these wonderful videos to bring the Secret Stories® to life for their students!  

They sent me the following email—

My name is Daniel and I teach kindergarten in Washington State.  Last year my school district adopted a new reading curriculum and when my team examined the leveled readers before the start of the school year, we were initially in shock.  We had no idea how our students were expected to read the new complex text introduced so early in the curriculum. After our initial reaction started to subside we got very motivated to create and find innovating and engaging methods for teaching more advanced phonics skills. 

Around November I stumbled across a pin on Pinterest with the Secret Story posters for the R-controlled vowels, etc… I had seen it before and I thought it was a neat idea, but I had never clicked on the link. When I clicked on it and found your website and realized the scope of how many secret stories there were, I got really excited and shared it with my teaching partners who shared in my enthusiasm. They were the perfect solution to our problem! We made up a few secret stories on our own before convincing our school to purchase them for our grade level, but by January we had them and made the full commitment to implement them. 

By the end of the year, we had by far the most students reading the Beyond Leveled Readers in the district, and many students needed even more challenging text.  By the summer I started presenting about the Secret Stories to other teachers in my district and adjacent ones, and ever since I have been trying to share this amazing resource with as many teachers as I can.

After last year’s success, we wanted to step it up a notch this year, so we decided to create a video where we acted out every Secret Story.  It took us 2 months to complete, but we are proud of the result. We’ve had our students watch it many times and they are making even more connections to the stories.  Sometimes it is a gesture that one of us did that resonates with them, or remembering who acted out the story that helps the students remember the sound.  It has proven to have been a very useful project and new resource. 

We had a lot of fun doing it, and we would be honored if you had some time in your schedule to watch it. Thank you so much for this amazing resource and inspiring us to want to be the best reading teachers for our students as possible!

Daniel M. 
Kindergarten Teacher

Can you imagine how excited I was?!!  
What FUN their students must have in their classrooms!

I'll be sharing some more of these awesome clips in subsequent posts, but since r-controlled vowels I mentioned, I thought I'd go ahead and post this one about the er/ir/ur Secret now— LOVE the props!

ER/IR/UR Secret Stories® Fun & Funky Poster
And this is just a small taste of all that I've been saving up to share!  I promise that my next post will come quickly and be packed with even more big surprises that you definitely won't want to miss! 

There's just one more thing that I need to share now, as the deadline is fast approaching and one session is already sold-out!  It's the registration for the South Dakota Kindergarten Academy, where I'll be presenting TWO 2-day workshops June 19th-22nd for PK-2. Any PreK/Kinder teachers who were unable to get into the first session, you should definitely sign up for the second one, as the strategies and content covered in both sessions are applicable across all primary grade levels.  For more information on how to register, visit the Kindergarten Academy Facebook Page or email

That's all for now, but keep an eye out for the next installment, as it will be coming shortly!

 Until Next Time,
Katie Garner

FREEBIE-ALERT!! While you're checking out Sneaky Y®'s Secret on TpT, be sure to also snag the FREE Secret Stories® Guided Reader, Dean's Treehouse before it reverts back to a "for-sale" product early next week!
SECRET STORIES® Guided Reader— Dean's Treehouse


  1. The teacher's comment about the Secret Stories being the "lifeblood of her classroom" really nailed it, and I couldn't agree more with everything that she said! The secrets really do permeate every aspect of our day, not just when reading and writing, but ALL DAY LONG, and even outside the classroom! I have heard other teachers say that they are the most tool in their classroom, but I would go a step further and say that the Secret Stories have made me the teacher that I've always wanted to be. They don't just make it easy to teach reading, they make it FUN! And not just for the kids, but for me too! I can totally relate to the teachers in those videos, as that's how I feel every day in my classroom when I'm telling the secrets to my kids!

    Thanks so much for posting this, and I can't wait for more! I had also heard through the grapevine in my district that you were going to be the keynote at our state reading conference this year, so now I'm saving up to go, as I would love to meet you!!!

  2. Kellie Jon-MarkensenApril 22, 2017 at 3:23 PM

    Even in kinder, they them so fast and start using them that there's really no reason NOT to teach them, especially since they're seeing the secrets every single day in text! Having a way to explain everything in a way that makes sense (and that kids love!) just changes everything about teaching in kindergarten. Finding out about the Secret Stories was the best thing that ever happened to me as a teacher, and I'm on my 14th year in the classroom!

  3. Hi Katie,
    Thank you!! I was at the SoMirac conference on March 29, 2017 in Hunt Valley, MD. You were an absolute inspiration for me!! I am/try to be a"singer" of songs to reinforce and cement concept attainment as well.. ( even though I can NOT carry a tune in a bucket or anything else :/ .. lol) I find your creative style is almost strikingly similar to mine.. I am not comparing what you do with what I do ..but our approach to learning seems so similar. I was awestruck by your presentation and my reading teacher could NOT WAIT for me to see you present... As a matter of fact, I am presenting some little tidbits of your material at a faculty PD next week. I want to engage and motivate my staff to check out your blogs and also try to implement some of your awesome ideas!! Thank you so much for sharing your creative spirit and inspiring me to try new and innovative ideas!! :)