Hoop Nut

On this page:

About Hoop Nut

The Fast ForWord Foundations I exercise Hoop Nut focuses on the following tasks, goals, and skills.

Task. Identify a target syllable when presented in a sequence of two syllables.

Goal. Develop the following cognitive and language & reading skills:

Language & reading skills

Phonological accuracy

The ability to make correct distinctions based on individual phonemes (e.g., matching words that begin with the same sound) or other aspects of phonology (e.g., rhyming, number of syllables).

Phonological fluency

Understanding that words are composed of different sounds, along with the ability to identify and manipulate those sounds in a quick and efficient manner. This skill facilitates both spelling words and decoding them.

Phonological memory

The capacity for holding speech sounds in memory. This skill is needed for tasks such as comparing phonemes, relating phonemes to letters, or sounding out words. It also helps both listeners and readers understand sentences because it allows them to remember a series of words in order.

Cognitive skills


The ability to hold a target phoneme in working memory while comparing it to two alternate phonemes to find the matching one.


The ability to focus attention.


The ability to process phonemes (auditory skill building).

About the science

Hoop Nut presents five phoneme contrast pairs of syllables that include Scientific Learning’s patented speech processing technology:

  • aba/ada
  • ba/da
  • be/de
  • bi/di
  • va/fa

At first, Hoop Nut presents syllables in which the speech sounds have been digitally generated using patented methods (including selective intensity increases and duration extensions) to provide enhanced learning opportunities. Initially, the consonant sound in each syllable has been lengthened and enhanced relative to the vowel sound. For example, the syllable ba is initially presented with an acoustically modified version of the /b/ sound.

As the student progresses through the exercise, Hoop Nut decreases this processing, and eventually presents the syllables using natural speech parameters. Also, as the student progresses through the exercise, Hoop Nut decreases the length of time between syllable choices.

How students use Hoop Nut

The object of Hoop Nut is to identify a target pronounced syllable when presented in a sequence of two pronounced syllables.

To work on Hoop Nut, the student clicks the Go button on the tree to hear a target syllable. The student must listen carefully as each of the two astro-nuts in the acorns pronounce a different syllable. One presents the target syllable, while the other presents a syllable that differs from the target syllable by a single phoneme. The student must click the acorn that presents the target syllable.

Replay button. During each trial, the student can click the Replay button to repeat the stimuli again. The Replay button is only available during a trial.

Help. If the student needs assistance identifying the syllables, the student can use the Help button See Help.

Time. The timer at the top of the screen shows the amount of time the student needs to work on the exercise that day, which is based on the student's protocol. It fills in from left to right as time elapses. When the time requirement is met, the exercise automatically closes and returns to the remaining exercises scheduled for that day. If this is the last exercise for the day, Today’s report opens.

Menu. The student can use this menu to exit the exercise early, to check the network connection status, and to see exactly how much time is left to meet the day’s protocol for that exercise. To learn more see Exiting an exercise.

Keyboard shortcuts. Students who are not able to use a mouse can use the following keyboard shortcuts (not available on touchscreen devices):

  • Go button. Space bar
  • Left acorn (response button). Left arrow
  • Right acorn (response button). Right arrow


To help speed up progress, the student can use Autoplay to take a set of multiple trials with a single click of the Go button. Autoplay becomes available early in the exercise, after the student demonstrates a basic understanding of the concepts (usually after passing a small group of trials). Once introduced, Autoplay turns on by default. The student can turn it off or back on at any time.

When Autoplay is on, the student clicks the Go button one time to start a set of trials. Autoplay always starts with a set of 3 trials. The Autoplay counter shows the number of trials in the current set. If the student gets all of the trials in the set correct, the exercise adds one more trial to the next set. If the student gets any of them incorrect, the program removes one trial from the next set. An Autoplay set will never be less than 3 trials.

The student can earn bonus points by responding correctly to all trials in an Autoplay set. For example, in a set of 3 trials, if each trial earns 2 points, the student would earn 6 bonus points after responding correctly to all 3 trials in the set.


If the student needs assistance identifying the syllables, the student can use the Help (?) button to see the syllables at the current set and stage.

  • When the Help screen opens, the student can click an astro-nut to hear the corresponding target syllable, the alternate syllable, and both syllables together.
  • Using Help does not affect the student’s standing in Hoop Nut.

How students progress in Hoop Nut


Hoop Nut begins with a short introduction that explains the task.

Tip: You can choose to present the introductions, instructions, and any interventions in another language, if needed. See Fast ForWord exercise intro languages.


In Hoop Nut, the student progresses through 5 stimulus sets. Each stimulus set presents 2 synthesized syllables that differ by a single phoneme. Each stimulus set includes 26 stages. The following changes occur across the stages:

  • The emphasis on critical phonetic features is gradually reduced. Stage 26 corresponds to natural speech.
  • The time between the syllables (inter-stimulus interval or ISI) is reduced from 500ms to 10ms.


In Hoop Nut, the following criteria must be met to advance in the exercise:

  • To advance to the next stage within a stimulus set, the student must answer 3 consecutive trials correctly. If the student answers a trial incorrectly, the student moves back one stage. When doing well, the student may be allowed to skip some stages. When struggling, the student may need to work on more of the stages.
  • To complete Hoop Nut, the student must pass all stimulus sets at the highest stage.

Hoop Nut adapts to the student’s performance within each stimulus set, and will administer targeted interventions if the student is continuously moving among the same few stages in a set.

Wacky trials

To keep the student engaged and attentive, Hoop Nut occasionally presents wacky trials—short, easy-to-answer trials that provide a fun, unexpected break in the exercise.

  • Hoop Nut presents one wacky trial after every 20 or so trials in a session, usually at the start of a new stage.
  • For each correct wacky trial answer, the student gets a reward animation and earns double the number of points.
  • Wacky trial responses do not count toward exercise progression, so the student cannot be penalized for incorrect answers.

Hoop Nut includes the following wacky trial stimuli pairs, with one syllable randomly chosen as the target response:

  • cluck/quack (animal sounds)
  • banana/waffle (spoken words)
  • doorbell/horn (environmental sounds)
  • meow/bark (animal sounds)
  • baa/neigh (animal sounds)


The exercises use built-in, responsive technology to detect when a student is struggling and administer targeted, inline instruction—right when the student needs it—without any external resources or assistance required. This “smart learning” design helps reduce frustration as it quickly gets students back on track, where they can continue making progress and achieving gains.

Hoop Nut provides a variety of in-product interventions when needed, such as:

  • Coaching
  • Modeling
  • Alternative instructions and stimuli
  • Modified progression
  • Focus mode (a simplified exercise screen with minimal elements and motivational features to minimize distractions)
  • Guided Help (the Hoop Nut Help screen with guided instruction)

The student can receive 1 or 2 of these interventions at a time, depending on the task and difficulty level in which the student is struggling. Each one can take anywhere from a few seconds to 2-3 minutes to complete. When appropriate, the student’s progression in the exercise stops temporarily while working through an intervention, then resumes when the student returns to the regular exercise content.

Tip: You can choose to present the introductions, instructions, and any interventions in another language, if needed. See Fast ForWord exercise intro languages.


To complete the exercise, the student must master all of the skills in the exercise and reach a percent complete score of 100%. To learn more see Completion.

How Hoop Nut rewards progress

Points. The exercise awards points as follows:

  • 2 points for each correct response
  • 10 bonus points after 12 correct responses
  • During Autoplay, students earn double the usual amount of points when they complete a set of trials without any errors. For example, in a set of 3 trials, if each trial earns 2 points, the student would earn 6 bonus points.

Feeder meter. The feeder meter tracks and celebrates every 1% of content completion. At 10% complete, the meter is full, and it “feeds” that percentage into the progress meter and resets. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Progress report

Progress meter. The progress meter tracks and celebrates every 10% of content completion. Each marker represents 10% of the exercise. When all 10 markers light up, the exercise is complete. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Progress report.

At 50% complete, the student enters Hooper Drive, which provides fun new animations when the student stays focused and gets many streaks of three.

Completion status. The completion status sign shows the actual percent complete score for the exercise. The score updates each time the student completes 1%. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Progress report.

Current streak (3 in a row). At the start of each new session, the exercise tracks and shows the current “winning streak” of consecutive correct trials. After 3 consecutive correct trials in a session, a “3 in a row” sign slides onto the screen. The score increments until the streak is broken (on the first incorrect trial), at which point the sign disappears from view. The current streak sign resets to zero at the end of each streak, and at the start of the next session.

Highest streak. At the start of each new day, the exercise tracks and shows the student’s best “winning streak” of consecutive correct trials. The score appears after the first 3 consecutive correct trials, and remains on the screen throughout the day. Any time the student surpasses his or her highest streak that day, the sign updates to show the latest number. The highest streak score resets to zero at the start of the next day.

More rewards. In addition to the current streak sign, the exercise uses other fun animations to encourage progress.

  • The wing nut inside the rocket tightens up a little more for each consecutive correct response, but unwinds completely for an incorrect response.
  • When the student answers three consecutive trials correctly, the tree launcher shoots an acorn through the hoop on a nearby tree ship, and the counter is reset.
  • When a tree ship fills with acorns, it blasts off into orbit around the planet. As the student continues answering trials correctly in a session, more and more tree ships can be seen orbiting the planet.