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Finding Phonograms in Print and Word Lists

October 25, 2010 1 comment

Today Ella saw phonogram f in a book, pointed to it and sounded it out. Totally new and I did not even prompt her by pointing letters out like this at other times, which surprises me now that I think about it.  That would be just like something I’d do.

OK, so I didn’t prompt her to do that, but writing about it made me think of the word wall I used when teaching first grade.  The word wall contained what is called environmental print, words taken from the child’s environment.  For example, first graders brought in words from such items as candy wrappers, cereal boxes, toy cartons, etc.  During the morning carpet time I would ask for environmental print and the children would get to tape theirs to the wall and we would discuss.  At that time we focused almost exclusively on whole words vs. the phonograms contained in the words. 

With Ella, I’ll choose the environmental print based on the phonograms she has already learned.  It will be a great way to review those she has learned as well as provide practice for the problem ones.  I will be very interested to see if this leads to her putting multiple phonograms together to form words.  I believe it will be 4-5 months before she is ready for that, but perhaps this strategy will speed it up. 

Speaking of reading words, I have a list of words that a beginning reader could read based on the first two lessons.  They are listed below.

sad
dad
cad
fad
sod
God
cod
go (This is the first word where the second sound is used)
so (Again with the second sound)
fog
dog
cog
do (This is the first word that uses the third sound of a phonogram)
gas

The words that use a sound other than the first force children to use analytical thinking combining the known phonograms, vocabulary and context of what they are reading.  If they try a word but it makes no sense in the sentence, they will try a different sound.  When working with your child on a list of words, you may have to prompt the child to try the next sound of a phonogram.  For instance, do uses the third sound of letter o, but the second sound makes the word sound like dough, which to a new reader would seem perfectly legitimate.

I think the discussion in the previous paragraph should help one to understand why it is so important to read and talk with children as much as possible.  If they have heard words used over and over and over in stories and conversation, they are much more likely to succeed with the analytical thinking required to be an effective reader using phonograms.

I have created lists of words through lesson seven and include the lists on the Learning to Read with Phonograms CD.  Below I list how many new words are unlocked for each lesson.

Lesson 1 – 0
Lesson 2 – 14
Lesson 3 – 33
Lesson 4 – 130
Lesson 5 – 291
Lesson 6 – 143
Lesson 7 – 8

That is 619 words in seven lessons.  Lesson seven drops off because there are only two phonograms, y and z.  I did not continue with word lists because lesson eight includes er, ir, ur, wor and ear.  That will be an explosion of new words for a child to know. 

This is the power of the phonograms.

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Another Written Phonogram

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Just a quick post to share Ella’s latest accomplishment.  She was drawing on the driveway with chalk while I was working.  Suddenly Ella was standing beside me making the sound of the phonogram f.  I looked down beside her and saw the f you see below.  This was very exciting for both of us as she stood there beaming and I started clapping and telling her how smart she is.

Ella's f

Ella's f

I think she may have inadvertently made the first part and then saw that if she made the cross, she would have one of those shapes Daddy is always showing her while making that sound.  She knew I would get excited and that makes her happy.

It was no surprise to me that Ella could make the sounds once she started asking to see the phonograms on the computer.  What is very surprising to me is her writing the phonograms.  I don’t anticipate seeing a lot of that for another year or so, but who knows? 

It sure is fun to go through this process again!

Moving on to Lesson Two and First Handwriting

October 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Although I’m not completely satisfied with Ella’s mastery of phonogram ‘a’, we have moved on to lesson two. She has mastered the other three phonograms and will probably struggle with the three sounds of ‘a’ for a while . This is where the parent/teacher has to make a command decision to move on or stay with lesson one until all are learned. I think moving on and continuing to work on ‘a’ will work out just fine.

The lesson two phonograms are shown below in a screen shot from the Learning to Read with Phonograms program.

Lesson Two Phonograms

I covered the phonograms page from the program back in February, but will make a couple of comments anyway.  There are sample words with each of the phonograms that highlight the sound(s) of the phonogram.  This is important so parents can deduce what those sounds are in case there is ambiguity with the accompanying sounds files.  For some phonograms, there are also notes included when necessary.

We just started on these sounds today.  It appears that three of them are going to be a challenge (g, s and qu).  Ella has trouble with the second sound of g, the second sound of s and qu.  With g, she is making the sound of d on the second sound.  With s, the second sound she uses varies.  With qu, she just has not figured out how to form the sound.  I am surprised that she is able to make all three sounds of o.  Since she struggles with the three sounds of a I anticipated she would do the same with o, but she got that one right away.  This is going to be an interesting process as I watch it so much more closely with Ella.

Ella spends a lot of time with sidewalk chalk.  We have seen her become more and more focused over the months, going from random scribbles to lines and then circles.  I think she is starting to draw pictures, but that may be due to a father seeing what he wants to see.  I contemplated adding some of those drawings here, but that is outside of the purpose of this blog.  What I did add below is a picture of Ella’s first purposefully-written letter (if you have been following the blog, you may remember the letter v on her hand from back in March) .  It is a rough implementation of the letter c, but directly after she drew this, she got my attention and said the sounds of c.

Ella's First Written Letter

This was an exciting moment.  We will have to see if it is a random incident or if Ella continues to try to write the letters.  When I added this picture, I realized that it would be possible to construe the shape at the top of the picture as an a, but since I have never heard her attempt to give me those sounds I can’t give her that.  She is not ready for the sister program at Boline Educational Resources (Handwriting with Flash Movies), but I will be excited to get Ella started on that one someday.

There was a guest reader in the Boline household a couple of days ago.  Ella’s Aunt Amy came down for a visit and was allowed to read to her.  I love the classic book they picked!

Aunt Amy Reading to Ella

If you know Ella, you know it is no small thing for her to deign to allow someone outside the household to read to her.  The more people that read to her the better, so thanks Aunt Amy!