43 sounds. Nearly 90 ways to spell them. A picture to represent each sound, with the different spellings under the picture. So far, so good. But whoever was responsible for the choice of images must have been completely out of touch with how young children learn. First let's look at the short vowels. Lamb=/a/ Hen=/e/ Pig=/i/ Fox=/o/ Tug (boat) =/u/ I understand the thinking behind the use of images that have the vowel as the medial sound because that's where they most often occur. However, I don't think it helps the kids who are actually having trouble remembering the sounds. But the problem is that in their efforts to achieve onomotopeadic numonic devices - "Pam the Lamb says /a/ /a/ /a/,"Pickles the pig says /i/ /i/ /i/ when she giggles" - they have ended up using images that are not instantly recognizable for the children. So to the kids, the "Tug" that reprsents /u/ is a "boat" which has nothing to do with the letter U. Sure, it goes /u/ /u/ /u/, but any advantages to that memory aid are lost when the child has to remember a new vocabulary word in order to understand the card which is supposed to help in learning to read. The other vowel card which is poorly chosen is the Pig card. To many children who are English language learners or have speech issues, a short /i/ followed by the letter g makes more of a long e sound - "Peeg" "deeg" 'beeg" etc. Aside from the vowels, there are many other poorly chosen cards. One of my least favorite is the "hound" for the letter /h/ sound. I teach in northern California. To kids here, a dog is a dog. The word hound is entirely unfamiliar to them. Most of them think of Elvis Presley rather than any sort of canine when they hear the word. Once again, a new vocabulary word is required. Considering that I have stop and think when I teach the card, something is wrong. There are two cards that represent the /k/ sound. Both are identical images of a camera. This does nothing to help kids distinguish between the situations when you use the letter k to make the /k/ sound and when you use the letter c. Then there's the "nose" card to represent the /n/ sound. It's represented by a picture of a horse. It used to be reprsented by a picture of a guy with a big huge nose named Norman Newsome who had a cold. For some unknown reason, (perhaps they were affraid of offending people with freakishly large noses), they changed it to a picture of a horse with a cold (it has snot dripping out of it). The worst part is that they did not change the poem at all. It's still about Norman Newsome. It's almost as if the SRA Open Court people are going out of their way to confuse kids. Moving on, we have a thimble that represents the /th/ sound. That's a slight improvement over "thong" (as in footwear known today as flip flops) which probably caused too much commotion in classrooms near warm coastal areas. But they went from one antiquated term to another. Unless you have first graders in your class over the age of 40 or avid Monopoly players, they probably don't know what a thimble is. Once again, a new vocabulary word must be taught in order to make a memory device work. A few more: The /kw/ sound is represented by ducks. They call them "quacking ducks" so that makes it OK I guess. The /ow/ sound is represented by a cow, which makes sense. But the cow is being stung by a bee. And what does she say? Why she says "ow!" Every year, my students have a lot of fun point out to me that cows don't say "ow" they say "moo." And finally, a very important r-controlled vowel is missing. There is no card that represents the /or/ sound. Of course, knowing Open Court, they'd probably use a picture of a fishbowl.