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teach reading using games

by Joanna Jeffrey

Age Group: reading age 5 & up

trugs - for schools & professionals

trugs at home - for parents & 1:1 tutors

trugs Tricky Words

trugs Stage 0

trugs Check

What is trugs?

trugs is a system based on a synthetic phonics structure to allow anyone, who can themselves read, to help a child/student to progress their level of reading.

There are 15 stages that starts at stage 1 with words like ‘cat’ and ‘win’ and progresses to stage 15 with words like ‘nation’ and ‘substitution’. The interest level is ageless! For 5-95 year olds! It is divided into three boxes – beginning, middle and final stages of reading.

At each stage all that is required is to play card games that contain the words at that stage – you and they play the games, read the words, and they are so engaged in the card games that they don’t realise how much reading practise they are doing.

trugs is a high-quality synthetic phonics reading resource.

There is no need for prior teaching experience because the structure has been designed to be easy to follow.

The card games are multi-sensory enabling children of all ages to progress with their reading whilst having fun.

All readers, not just those with dyslexia, can improve their reading by playing trugs.

How does trugs work?

The synthetic phonics structure has been put into 15 stages. Each stage builds on the one before, making it easy to follow.

There is no manual or training needed because at each stage there is a Clue Card with information about that specific stage.

At each of these stages there are familiar-style card games to play. This means that it is easy to practise, reinforce and consolidate each stage.

If required progress can be monitored/assessed using the Monitoring Booklet and Reading Booklet for Assessing Pupil Progress (APP) – see trugs for schools & professionals.

So by playing these games parents, carers, grandparents, teachers and assistants can help improve a child’s reading ability.

How can I teach my child to read and enjoy the time together?

The trugs card games are deliberately designed with children and students in mind – in other words there is no mention of phonics, or letter clusters. The structure is there and it is phonics, but they don’t want to know that!

The card games, (called Guess it, Match it and Take it) are fun and competitive, where you guess, match, or take colours and numbers in order to win – they hardly notice the reading element and that’s why trugs works and that’s why your children will want to come back for more – to win or to beat you!

Guess It! Game Simulation

What is the trugs structure?

The trugs structure is divided into 15 stages and within those stages there are only those words relevant to that specific stage as follows:

Box 1
  • Stage 1 cvc
  • Stage 2 ccvc
  • Stage 3 ccvcc
  • Stage 4 ar/or/er
  • Stage 5 two syll words
Box 2
  • Stage 6 cve (magic e)
  • Stage 7 vowel digraphs
  • Stage 8 diphthongs
  • Stage 9 open/closed sylls
  • Stage 10 three syll words
Box 3
  • Stage 11 soft c
  • Stage 12 soft g
  • Stage 13 consonant/l/e
  • Stage 14 four + syll words
  • Stage 15 ti/ci/si

Does trugs follow any guidelines?

trugs follows specific aspects of the U.K. Government’s Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) Core Criteria as recommendations for a highly structured systematic phonic resource.

trugs can be used can be used on its own as well as alongside all phonic reading programmes used in Primary and Secondary Schools including Letters and Sounds and synthetic phonics.

trugs - for schools & professionals

Each box contains:
  • 490 cards making 20 Card Games
  • 1 Instruction Booklet
  • 1 Reading Booklet
  • 1 Monitoring Booklet for APP

Box 1 (TS1)
Reading Age Approx 5½ - 7½ yrs
Item: 9780955805301

Box 2 (TS2)
Reading Age Approx 7½ - 9½ yrs
Item: 9780955805356
Box 3 (TS3)
Reading Age Approx 9 - 15+ yrs
Item: 9780955805363
trugs at home - for parents & 1:1 tutors

Each box contains:
  • 360 cards* making 15 Card Games
  • 1 Instruction Booklet
* 97% different range of words to the schools boxes … great for those using both products!

Box 1 (TH1)
Reading Age Approx 5½ - 7½ yrs
Item: 9780956802705

Box 2 (TH2)
Reading Age Approx 7½ - 9½ yrs
Item: 9780956802712
Box 3 (TH3)
Reading Age Approx 9 - 15 yrs
Item: 9780956802729
trugs Tricky Words

Each box contains:

  • 72 cards making 3 Card Games
  • 1 Clue Card
  • 1 Instruction Leaflet

Practise, reinforce and consolidate these by playing Guess it, Match it and Take it.

These card games are intended as back-up resource material for those beginning to learn to read these decodable and tricky words, using a phonics first approach.

The other ‘decodable’ regular high-frequency words and can be found within trugs Boxes 1, 2 and 3.

trugs Tricky Words 1 (TW1)
Item: 9780956062482

66 words from the ‘100 high-frequency words in order’
trugs Tricky Words 2 (TW2)
Item: 9780956062499

66 words from the ‘next 200 common words in order of frequency’
trugs Stage 0 (ST0)

Each box contains:

  • 64 cards making 3 Card Games
  • 1 Instruction Leaflet
trugs Stage 0 (ST0)
Reading Age Approx 5 - 6 yrs
Item: 9780956062468

Introducing consonant and vowel recognition according to the Letters and Sounds s/a/t/p/i/n letter order.

trugs Check

Item: 9780956802781 - trugs Check 0 (TC0)
Item: 9780956802798 - trugs Check 1 (TC1)
Item: 9780992658908 - trugs Check 2 (TC2)
Item: 9780992658915 - trugs Check 3 (TC3)

These new products are called ‘trugs Check’ – these decks are a way whereby you can ‘check’ and assess whether a student has consolidated all the trugs Stages within a box of trugs. So at the end of each box there is a ‘trugs Check’ single deck. The deck contains one new game. Students play the game and as they are playing you will be able to judge whether they have mastered all the trugs Stages at the end of the relevant trugs Box. This then serves to establish the extent of consolidation of all the Stages within the previous trugs Box and determine whether it is appropriate to move on to the next trugs Box.

The new game within the trugs Check deck is called ‘Beat it’. It has been trialled by Primary and Secondary age students and all seem to love it. They have reported wonderful things to me about the game. If you have ever played ‘Beggar my Neighbour’ then you may well find that it is very similar to that.

trugs Check 0. Contains all the letters of the alphabet. This enables students to play the new game ‘Beat it’ whilst practising their individual letter sounds.

Moving on to trugs Boxes after mastery of relevant trugs Check decks

  • use trugs check 0 to ‘check’ mastery of letter sounds → then work through Stages 1-5 in trugs Box 1.
  • use trugs check 1 to ‘check’ mastery of Stages 1-5 in Box 1 → then work through Stages 6-10 in trugs Box 2.
  • use trugs check 2 to ‘check’ mastery of Stages 6-10 in Box 2 → then work through Stages 11-15 in trugs Box 3.
  • use trugs check 3 to ‘check’ mastery of all trugs Stages.

Please note that all the words within every trugs check deck are different and have been selected from Secondary School subject-specific topic words, as at September 2013.

How to play trugs

Below are a selection of videos that illustrate how to play the various trugs games. Simply click on the video you would like to watch.



Get It!

Match It!

Take It!

Use It!

“We’ve been using TRUGS here at Chiddingstone Church of England Primary School in Kent for two years now and it has become a very effective intervention. We have purchased boxes 1,2 and 3 as well as the tricky words boxes 1 and 2 and the box zero for early years foundation stage. At Chiddingstone we identify the pupils who are falling behind in their reading skills and use TRUGS on our provision mapping for these pupils for a 6 week period, three times a week.
The great thing about TRUGS is that our parents love it too and many have invested in TRUGS at home so they can reinforce the work we are doing with their children at school.
The three main boxes of TRUGS consist of 5 stages in each box, so 15 stages in all. We use box one for the year one and two pupils, box two for years three and four and box three for years five and six. Box zero is great for foundation stage pupils to reinforce their phase two phonics work and support any pupils who are falling behind.
TRUGS is fun as well as challenging and provides an ideal intervention for small groups of pupils to boost their understanding and confidence with decoding words. The four games in each stage also promote good turn taking, language and memory skills.
TRUGS is good value for money as it can also be used to extend the skills of our gifted and talented pupils.
I would thoroughly recommend TRUGS knowing the fun that all our pupils have with this great phonic intervention.”
- Gill Howard, SENco, Chiddingstone Church of England Primary School

“I just want to email you and say how much Trugs is contributing to my work as a private dyslexia tutor based in Ivybridge in the South Hams, so not far from yourself! I am getting so much mileage out of the 3 boxes that I have invested in that it is a working lifetime’s journey of discovery! The boxes makes my sessions all the happier because all my kids love them. Although it was a major investment for me (I bought the full boxes as I had used them in my previous job before I took the leap into tutoring) it has been well worth it!”
- Mandy Archer, Tutor

“As my research project shows, TRUGs clearly work to engage pupils (of all reading abilities) in reading. The reason I think TRUGs is so successful is the game element - all children love the competitiveness. They are suitable not only for emerging or struggling readers, but also for those children who are gifted readers, in that they are an excellent tool in developing vocabulary.
I also advocate the use of TRUGs in classrooms when guided reading is taking place; this is a daily activity and invariably a teacher will have 4 to 5 groups to cater for. With only one TA it is only possible to have two adult guided groups, therefore, you need to have vauable reading activities and TRUGs fit s this requirement. I have often come across teahers using ‘holding’ activities which are of low learning value as it can be sometimes difficult to find actvities that the children can do independently.
We have also developed some TRUGs leaders in the school, where gifted/more able readers, can still play the game with developing readers, as they have the knowledge that the other children are reading the word correctly. This works wonders - the more able children love the responsibility of ‘leading’ the group while the less able still have a chance to ‘beat’ or win a game against a more able reader - genius!
The Tricky Words boxes are ideal for struggling readers but also brilliant for Reception - this is why I believe TRUGs is an excellent resource to use across the Primary age range. It is not possible to learn Tricky Words phonetically, therefore it is just practice and repetitive exposure to the words that enable children to learn them. I think that is why you had so many orders from our Reception and Year 1 parents.
I would totally endorse TRUGs as a remarkable learning resource - there is nothing else quite like it (not that I’ve come across anyway).”
- Claire Henning. St John’s Primary School

“At last! We have an extremely effective and thoroughly enjoyable means of teaching children to read. In all honesty, pupils are fully engaged in learning to read – without knowing so. A second-to-none phonics resource.”
- Mr G Lucas, Deputy Head YGG Llyn y Forwyn

“Reading is a key priority for the school, and a proportion of our Pupil Premium funding has been allocated to raise standards in this area. The school has adopted the Read, Write Inc (Ruth Miskin, 2006) approach to teaching phonics which has had huge impact on standards, however on hearing about the trugs resource, we were keen to trial this multi sensory approach to phonics teaching.
A small trial was conducted to test the impact of trugs. Two groups of six pupils were selected based on their scores in a recent phonics assessment. These groups consisted of the lowest scoring Year 3 pupils. The experimental group was given three twenty minute ‘trug’ sessions per week for 18 weeks, in addition to their daily fifteen minute Read, Write Inc (Ruth Miskin, 2006) sessions. The other six pupils acted as a control group, and only took part in daily fifteen minute Read, Write Inc (Ruth Miskin, 2006) sessions.
The pupils very quickly became engaged by the resource, and looked forward to their next session. Many of the parents bought the resource to use at home, because they recognized the impact that trugs had had on their child’s reading. The games also strengthen the children’s ability to recall facts, and improved their social and communication skills. This was particularly evident for pupils with Autism who took part in the trial. Our school also has a high proportion of pupils with English as an additional language (40%); and the resource proved to be very effective at supporting these pupils who are still developing their understanding of the English language.
Importantly, the miscue analysis resources ensured that the school could carefully measure and track pupil progress in a manageable and time efficient manner.
Results indicated that reading accuracy improved in the experimental group. The mean entry score for the experimental group was 81/300 and the mean exit score was 146/300, showing an average improvement of 65.
The resource is now used systematically throughout the school as a reading intervention and continues to have a positive impact.”
- Ellie Rees, Deputy Head and SENCO

You can e-mail your order to products@spedsg.com,
fill up an order form and fax to (65) 6899 8477,
or call (65) 6899 8377.