learning to read

  • Last week I had the privilege of working with a small group of first graders who need help with basic phonics skills. Their teacher is teaching beginning blends to the class, but these children needed extra, focused help in a small group. I gave each of them a phonemic awareness assessment (the one included in my online course, Teaching Every Reader), and I learned that they struggle with hearing beginning blends. I decided to create a simple, self-checking printable to help them stretch and spell words with beginning blends. This would require them to listen for the beginning blends in order to spell the words correctly. Watch the video below to learn how it works. As you saw in the video, the printable needs to be printed front to back. After that, preparation is quick and simple. Simply fold on the solid line and cut up on the dotted lines. Your learner can say the picture’s name, flip it up to check the spelling, and write the correct spelling again (or, if incorrect, copy the correct spelling) on the bottom line. Teaching tips Some students will want to cheat and look at the word before writing it. Remind them that it’s okay to spell the word wrong; part of the fun is seeing if they can get it right without peeking. With one student, I had to sit right next to her and hold the picture down so she wouldn’t peek. Let your learners know that every word has four letters. This will encourage them to streeetch out the word and listen for that second letter, which is always the tricky one. Make sure your students do not erase the incorrect spelling at the top. You want to see how they spelled the word first so you know how to tailor future instruction. Looking...
  • I’m always looking for new ways to teach short a word families. This matching game was a big hit at our house! Now that she knows all her letters and sounds and has other important pre-reading skills, I’ve been teaching my daughter (4 years, 9 months) to read short vowel words. I’m not going to tell you she’s been jumping up and down about it. In fact, until recently, she didn’t want to learn at all. What made the difference was teaching her to blend sounds using successive blending (I have a video here all about it if you want to try it.) Once she figured that out, reading words has been much more fun for her. To take it a step further, I created a simple matching game featuring CVC words with short a (the only short vowel we’ve practiced so far). I don’t know what it is about matching games, but they’ve always been a big hit with my kids. My Six, who was also reluctant to learn to read, actually begged for more matching games. It’s how I helped him learn his sight words. Watch the quick video above to see the activity in action. The great thing about memory games is that they’re very simple to make. Just cut index cards in half and write a match on each half. Since I decided to create a game using pictures, writing on index cards wasn’t going to work for me. (Drawing is just not one of my gifts.) So I created this simple game on my computer. The download has 16 different matching games. The corner of each card tells you the set that it belongs to so you don’t mix them up. I recommend printing each set on a different color of cardstock. This way you can...
  • October 23, 2018

    How to teach blending sounds

    This post about blending sounds contains affiliate links. I’m currently teaching my younger daughter to read. She knows all her letters, most of her sounds, and has all the pre-reading skills I recommend before teaching a child to read. But we’ve been hitting a little bit of a wall with blending sounds. She’ll see a word like this: wag, and she’ll say the sounds /w/ /a/ /g/ … “Pat?” Woah … where did pat come from? Actually, this isn’t all that uncommon. It can be hard for kids to keep all those sounds in their short term memory long enough to put them together to make the right word. That’s where successive blending comes in. Here’s a video that shows exactly how it works. If you prefer a picture tutorial, here you go: I created a set of cards – one set for the first sound, one for the middle sound, and one for the ending sound. The first cards are all letters that are used in CVC words. The middle letters are all vowels. The final letters are all letters we often see at the end of CVC words (so, for example, you won’t find an h or a j in the last stack of cards). To play, simply flip over the first card and say its sound. Have your learner repeat it after you. /h/ Flip over the second sound. Have your learner repeat it. /a/ THEN (and this is key), push those first two sounds together. Say their combined sound. /haaa/ Have your learner repeat it. Flip over the final card. Say its sound. /t/ Have your learner repeat it. Now put all the sounds together. First … /ha/ /t/. Then, /haaat/. Have your learner repeat it. For my daughter, the favorite part of this activity was determining whether the words...
 

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