Zoo-phonics was developed in the mid 1980s by Charlene Wrighton and Gigi Bradshaw, two teachers in Northern California, who developed a strong phonics and physical component to enhance the existing whole language methods. Zoo-phonics introduces the alphabet as one thing with 26 parts via a multi-sensory approach involving the whole child, eyes, ears, mouth, mind and body.
- Endearing animals as letter shapes (visual learning) - Shows animals in the shapes of lowercase letters before teaching the actual letters for easy remembering. Lowercase letters are taught before capital letters as it's easier for a young child to form a lowercase letter and 95% of reading materials are in lowercase anyways. In addition, when you flip the Animal Letter Cards around, a "bear" is always a bear but a "b" can easily be a "d" "p" or "q."
- Sounds and songs (auditory learning) - Teaches sounds of the letters through the animal names ("a" as in Allie Alligator, etc.), and letter sounds are taught before letter names. The sound of each letter comes through the initial sound of the animal name.
- Hand and body motions, games and activities (kinesthetic learning) - Introduces a body signal to represents each animal letter, which in turn helps them lock in the learning. Children decode letters (read) and encode letters (spell and write) all at once to songs and what looks like dancing, sucking the stress out of building phonemic awareness.