Final Post

May 14, 2013 1 comment

Ella’s fifth birthday is tomorrow and she is reading amazingly well.  My last post was two months ago and I commented that she was still having some issues.  Those have all cleared up now and I honestly marvel at the difference.  I don’t know why, but she is no longer sounding out many of the words and has added many many words to her sight word bank.  Ella just seemed to make a huge jump recently, like a light turned on for her.  It is such a joy to listen to her read now.

We gave up on Book Adventure for now and started concentrating on easier books.  Perhaps that is why her reading improved so much?  Will go back to Book Adventure at some point because that is good for checking comprehension.

In the easy section at our library we discovered the We Both Read books.  Ella and I both enjoy these.  We’ve read Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk this way.  I read one page and then Ella reads the next.  Both pages advance the story so it really feels like we are both reading the story.

I probably won’t blog here much anymore because Ella is reading.  I’ve taught her about all I can and it is time to move on.  She starts Kindergarten soon, amazingly.  Can’t wait to see her in a classroom setting.  Should be a joy!


Reading Like Mad!

March 13, 2013 1 comment

Ella read four books today.  I made her read the first three in the morning using my normal motivational strategies, but in the evening she started reading Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? all on her own.  Oh, and she read a book on her LeapPad this morning as well.

Ella now has a total of 4500 points earned at Book Adventure.  That is 45 books!!!!  I recently used 2000 of those points to get a free three-month subscription to Highlights for Children.  We looked at that magazine at the last doctor appointment and she really enjoyed it.  Ella also decided to use 75 points to download a balloon animal instruction sheet and is anxiously waiting for me to buy her some balloons we can use.

So, Ella is mostly doing great, but she still has some issues while reading.  My wife reminded me today, though, that Ella is still only four.  Guess I should try to keep that in mind.

The issues I’m seeing:

  • STILL mixes up b and d occasionally
  • Sounds out some words when she doesn’t need to, i.e. is, it and that’s
  • Guesses at words when she thinks more of the picture than the word
  • Sounds out individual sounds in multiple-letter phonograms (I tell her Phonogram Masters are better than that)

After reading Down on the Farm in about four minutes this morning, Ella marveled at how quickly she read it.  I told her that three months ago it would have taken her a long time and I would have had to yell at her a lot.  Nearly every word in that book was a sight word for Ella so as she challenges herself more and her ability moves up, the sight words will continue to accumulate.  I’m not worrying too much about practicing sight words as I once was doing.  They will come.

More Books to Read

March 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Ella completed 16 of the 20 books we checked out last time.  The four left are all over AR level 2.1 and will be challenging.  I checked out another 12 books today that are lower level so Ella will read those and we will mix in the last four from the previous time.

If we keep up the reading, I’m not sure how good a reader Ella is going to be when she starts Kindergarten in about six months.  It continues to be exciting watching Ella get better and better.  I just don’t understand why people don’t embrace the phonograms when presented with what they can do.

Belated Update

March 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Been a long time since I’ve posted.  We took an unplanned break from reading, but we finally got to the library this past week and came home with 20 books. I spent about 1.5 hours at the library and was able to find 20 books at Ella’s reading level for testing at I used to find the Accelerated Reader level of the books, which is how I was easily able to determine if the books in my list are at my daughter’s level. I have a list of books at both the library and at Book Adventure thanks to Justin, who works at the library.

The books range in AR level from .4 to 2.7 so some are extremely easy for Ella and some challenge her considerably.  She read 7 of them the first day because once she finishes all 20 of them she’ll be at 4000 Book Adventure points and will have earned a new game for her Leap Pad.

Reading on Her Own

February 13, 2013 Leave a comment

This morning I told Ella she needed to read a couple of pages out of Spider’s Lunch before she could watch one of her favorite shows.  While I was working, she sat down at her table and read the entire book on her own, except for needing help with maybe five words.  Spider’s Lunch is a non-fiction book about spiders so it was relatively long and had a lot of information.  After completing it, she took the test at Book Adventure and on the first try, got five of five questions correct.  Ella told me she just wanted to read the book and take the test.  Awesome!!!!

For some reason, the past couple of days has seen the b/d issue come up again.  Frustrating!  It resolved itself quickly and today I don’t thing she confused them more than once.  This is why she needs to read every day.

I can now report that Ella is no longer laughing every time she sees the word but.  She read past it a couple of times in books last week, and then earlier this week there was a book with but in it multiple times and every time she just read it and went on.  I must say, it makes me a little sad, although I knew this day was coming.

I think I’ve said it before, children learn to read better by reading.  Ella continues to prove this contention.


February 10, 2013 Leave a comment

I realized after my last post that I didn’t give enough emphasis to Ella’s reading on her own.  That is what I envisioned her doing a long time ago.  It is a HUGE deal.  Just wanted to reiterate that.

There has been an extended break in reading, unfortunately.  I used the library web site to request five books a couple weeks ago and every one of them, although listed at Book Adventure as level zero, were all too challenging for Ella to read and test.  Due to some family issues, I wasn’t able to make it to the library to go through the list, checking each book out personally.  Finally, last Thursday I made it and checked out five books that are more appropriate.  Ella has read two of the books already and we’ll continue to read at least one a day.

Ella’s Book Adventure points are at 1,800 right now.  When she gets to 2,000 I am going to purchase for her the Nook game Cut the Rope.  She enjoys it a lot and there is definitely some thinking involved in that game so that is excellent.

I haven’t done a phonogram test with Ella for a few weeks so we need to get that done.  It is difficult to maintain the Phonogram Master status without constant work so I feel like I’m letting her down a bit.

Ella continues to sound out too many words.  I have to remind her to not sound out words she really does know, i.e. it and is.  I will say, however, that Ella is adding more and more sight words all the time.  I know she will continue with this, but that sounding out habit has to be fought all the time.

When going through some old CDs recently, I came across the game Jump Start First Grade Reading.  I fired it up on our computer.  It is an old game and doesn’t run very smoothly on Windows 7, but Ella has been playing it and is doing great.  It has three different levels, with the first level focusing on three-letter words.  Need to push her to move to the 2nd level.  There is a lot of work with spelling, beginning and ending sounds, and rhyming.  I wish I could find the Reader Rabbit game the other two kids played and the little books that came with that program.

Ella Reading on Her Own

January 28, 2013 Leave a comment

The last three books Ella has read have been mostly on her own.  I’m not sure what motivated this change as she didn’t appear to be driven by taking the Book Adventure tests.  She did perfectly willingly, but it was obvious that hadn’t been her plan.  This is quite exciting.

Today she read two books on her own, back to back (Hop on Pop and Ten Apples up on Top).  All three of the books she read on her own are books we have here at home.  The two today are level 1 books at Book Adventure and the other one is level 2.  This gives me some pause about the leveling procedure at Book Adventure because as I mentioned, she read them mostly on her own.  Ella did a good job of asking about words she didn’t get, although I did witness her pressing on through some words that didn’t make sense in context.

Ella is still sounding out most of the words.  She is reading more words as sight words and today was sounding out words much more quickly than normal.  As I listened today, I reminded myself that she will continue to become a better reader without my constantly pushing her to become a better reader more quickly.  Either way, she is well ahead of the average child of four when it comes to reading.

My updates on the word but are probably getting tiresome to any regular readers of this blog, if there are any.  I said long ago I would continue to track this so I feel I must continue until she finally quits laughing about it.  As of now, there is no sign that is going to happen soon.  In fact, now Ella sees that word everywhere and laughs about it.  My hope is that it wears off before she goes to school because otherwise, the first time it comes up in class her hearty guffaws are going to be quite a spectacle.

Book Adventure

January 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Ella continues to read books and take tests at Book Adventure.  I have discovered there is much variation in the list of level zero books I created at the library.  Some of the books contain too many words for Ella to be willing to read in one book.  As a beginning reader, she would be overwhelmed and not want to read an entire book.

The page I’ve created at this site to track Ella’s books is a good resource for finding books that are at the lowest level of level zero.  I spent 30 minutes at the library last week to find five books for Ella to read so using the list here can save a lot of time.

I advocate for parents to teach their children to read, but be warned, it can be frustrating!  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but even as Ella improves new frustrations present themselves.  The biggest one is watching Ella make mistakes on phonograms that she has known for months.  The frustration is definitely something for me to overcome because Ella is doing great and the mistakes she makes are part of the path to fluency.  I try to remember that in six months or so she will be reading with many many words no longer sounded out.  And she will barely be five by then.

Anyone else ever experience that it is much tougher to be patient with  your own children vs. other children?

The last book Ella read was Bark, George!.  This was her favorite book so far.  It was very funny.  The plan was for her to only read a couple of pages because she had already read a book earlier that day.  Once she got started and enjoyed the book, she finished reading it.  I was very happy to see that.  Definitely need Ella to enjoy reading.

Finally with the Phonogram Master Video!

January 19, 2013 1 comment

I’ve blogged a few times about my plans to record Ella reciting the phonograms.  We were at the library yesterday and I had her give it a try.  She did an excellent job!

Here is the video:

Ella was very excited once she completed the recording.  She had been on the computer at the library and on our way back to the computer she said, “I did great and I didn’t even struggle!”

This recording was a long time coming because even though Ella has known all the phonograms for a while, it has been a struggle for her to get through all 70 of them without making a mistake.  You can see in the video that she made a mistake with ci but quickly corrected herself and then breathed a sigh of relief.

I’m very proud of Ella.  It took much work on her part and I wasn’t always the most patient teacher.

Fun With Grandpa

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

In an effort to get video of Ella reciting all 70 phonograms, I created a PowerPoint presentation of the phonograms and had her practice a couple times today. This evening Grandpa and Grandma came to visit so I had Ella do a few phonograms for them using that PowerPoint.  She was very shy about it at first and only did a few phonograms very quietly.  A few minutes after I allowed her to stop, she started doing them on her own.  Grandpa and I went back over to watch and Ella was much more authoritative about it.  It got fun for Ella when Grandpa started trying to do the phonograms.   We laughed at him when he did the b sound and included the “uh” sound at the end like most people do.  And then he did the “er” sound for r.  We kinda ridiculed him for his lack of knowledge of the phonograms. Then Grandpa just started making up sounds for the phonograms and Ella was really laughing.

I told Grandpa and Grandma that we will have to be careful next year when Ella starts Kindergarten that she isn’t a phonogram snob.  It was all in fun with Grandpa, but I don’t want Ella to do the same type stuff to either her classmates or her teacher.

I think we can do the video tomorrow.  I’m planning to have Ella sit at the computer and page through the PowerPoint on her own while I video over her right shoulder.  There are a few phonograms left that are giving her trouble.  The problems that worry me most are her confusion between ie and ei and confusion between gn and ng.  For a very short time today our old nemesis b and d confusion revisited.  Thank goodness that was corrected quickly.  And then she for some reason started trying to put the two sounds of si together into one sound.  Since she is a phonogram master now it doesn’t take much practice to get her back on track.

I added another page to this site.  You can see it at the top of the page, titled Books Read and Tested.  It is just a list of books that Ella has read and tested on at Book Adventure.  The list currently includes eleven books.