Have you ever used puppetry as an intervention? Unlock the magic to enhance literacy skills. In this episode, we enjoyed hosting Carol Richards and Linnea Smith, the dynamic duo behind Richard’s Learning Systems. This revolutionary literacy program incorporates puppets, animation, and multisensory learning to teach reading. Join us as we explore the magic behind their approach and how it’s transforming how children learn to read.

The Genesis of Richard’s Learning Systems

Carol Richards, the founder of Richard’s Learning Systems, shared her journey from starting a tutoring service to developing a comprehensive literacy program. With the challenge of making her science of reading program accessible and practical, Carol had a eureka moment that led to creating a unique video-based curriculum. These videos, devoid of adult presence, feature puppets and animation to engage children in learning sounds, blends, digraphs, and eventually syllables, culminating in the ability to read complex words like “antidisestablishmentarianism.”

The Puppets of Literacy

The program boasts a cast of charming puppets, each with a specific role in teaching literacy concepts. Miss Alice teaches the short “a” sound, while Silly Ball, the syllable scientist, helps students break words into syllables. Chef Cookie teaches blends with her whisk and animated ingredients, and Sophie introduces non-phonetic “red words” through arm tapping.

A Family Affair

Linnea Smith, Carol’s daughter, brings her creative expertise and personal experience as a struggling reader. She played a pivotal role in producing the video series and creating the puppets, transforming them from simple sock puppets to the engaging characters used today.


Richard’s Learning Systems is not just for young learners. The program has succeeded with older students, refugees, immigrants, and even adults in the workforce. Its simplicity and effectiveness make it a valuable tool for many learners, including non-verbal students who have shown remarkable progress.

Incorporating Writing Skills

The program also addresses writing skills through tracing practice, spelling exercises, and gentle introductions to sentence structure. The focus is on making learning as multisensory as possible, with tactile letter cards and activities reinforcing the connection between reading and writing.

Accessible and Affordable

Richard’s Learning Systems is designed to be both accessible and affordable. With a subscription model, teachers and parents can access the materials and videos needed to implement the program effectively. The emphasis is on short, daily sessions that fit easily into any schedule.


Richard’s Learning Systems is a testament to the power of creativity and innovation in education. By harnessing the appeal of puppets and the principles of multisensory learning, Carol Richards and Linnea Smith have created a literacy program that teaches children how to read and instills a love for reading. As we explore the potential of puppetry in education, Richard’s Learning Systems stands as a shining example of how thinking outside the box can lead to remarkable outcomes in literacy development.