Archive for January, 2013

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.


January 13, 2013 Leave a comment

I used WinFlash with Ella very successfully with a list of about 10 words.  I finally got them added (without the coding mentioned in the previous post) a few days ago in the evening.  We reviewed them a couple of times and then again the next morning.  By then, Ella knew them cold.  I had gone over the coded versions of the words a few time using paper only, so she had already practiced some before I started using WinFlash.  I’m creating another list of words as we read more books.  The list currently includes of, this, as and they.

Ella’s sense of humor remains the same.  Yes, she STILL laughs at the word but.  Today she laughed at the word as until I told her the s should have been the second sound, not the first sound.  This is why as will be included in the next WinFlash file.  Glad to see she is branching out with her word enjoyment.

The kindergarten-level booklist ended up at 140 books at  the Derby library.  I checked out five more books Saturday and discovered that some of these books are considerably more difficult than others.  I’m going to have to look more carefully at the books I check out to minimize the frustration for both Ella and for me.

Special thanks go out to Justin who works at the library.  He provided me with a list of over 9,000 books in the Easy section so I could do a compare to the available tests at Book Adventure.  I’m now able to easily generate lists of books the library has through all levels.  Unless the library can take my lists and create the booklist on their web site, I’m going to have to find each of the books in their catalog and manually add them to a booklist.

Book Adventure Update

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Ella has taken seven tests at Book Adventure and earned 500 points.  On one book she earned no points because I had the test setting idle for over an hour and during that time it timed out twice so she doesn’t get to test on it.  On another book, she took the test twice  and missed one of five each time.  At Book Adventure, if the child doesn’t get all five correct, no points are earned.  I would much prefer for Ella to earn some points for four out of five, which I believe was the case when Hayden was using the site.

I have not yet set up another custom prize for Ella, but whatever it is, it will require 1000 points this time.  We have been reading and testing daily, but I’m not sure we can keep that up.  It is a challenge to get through a book in one day, unless Ella is really focused.

I downloaded a large list of Kindergarten-level tests (level 0) from Book Adventure and am searching the Derby library for each book on the list.  I created a book list on the library web site so when we are ready to check out more books to read and test on, we will have plenty to choose from.  The reading list is at 100 books now and I plan to continue to add.  There are still almost 90 more books to search for.  This is plenty of books for Ella because I’m anticipating her moving to the next level before reading that many books.

If you would like to use the list of books, it is a public list named Ella Books for Book Adventure.

In my previous post I mentioned that Ella is now a Phonogram Master.  Below is the certificate she earned.  This certificate is included on the Learning to Read CD so all phonogram masters can earn the same thing.

onogram Master Certificate

Phonogram Master Certificate

Things are going very well with Ella’s reading, but frustrations continue to creep up.  For instance, the last few days she has been mixing up d and b again.  It is always brief because she quickly corrects herself, but still.  One thing that has been problematic is that Ella seems to be in the habit of sounding out almost all words, even the ones she should know by now.  I made it a focus today to remind her that some words she should just read by now and not need to sound out.  She told me she likes to sound out words.  The constant sounding out can drive one crazy, but I need to remember that she soon will start reading without constant sounding out.

Another frustration is Ella losing focus while reading.  If she stays focused, she can get through books very quickly, but if not, it can be torture.  What’s with four-year-olds losing focus anyway?

I am going to use WinFlash again.  This time to take some of those words Ella should have learned by now and use WinFlash to review them until she knows them by sight.  This is a little against my philosophy of not using sight words, but I believe she will learn them very quickly since they are all common and she should have learned them already.  Hoping this helps her to understand that she needs to quit sounding out all the time.  I’m including some coding with the words as well, because in the past when I did this with Bob Books, she seemed to learn them more quickly.    Below are a few example of words I’m including.

 do  come
 look  here

The numbers above phonograms signify the number of the sound.  The double underline signify silent final e, with the 5 after come signifying that it is the fifth rule of silent final e (no job e).  The lines in here signify the first rule of silent final e (CVC) which means the final e makes the vowel use the long sound.

One thing I’ve had reinforced while teaching Ella to read is that I have look for new and creative ways to help her learn.

Phonogram Master!

January 1, 2013 1 comment

Ella now knows all 70 phonograms as of 12/28/2012!  We tested that morning and she was able to get all of them correctly!  The only two she struggled with at all were ei and ir.  But with a little thought she was able to get both.

After 64 of the 70 phonograms Ella said to me, “Daddy, I love the phonograms!”  I know the reason she loves them is that she is successful.  She knows she has worked hard to learn them all and that it is a major accomplishment.

Ella’s reading continues to improve, as should be expected.  We checked out two more books from the library that have tests at  Finished one of them tonight and will have to test tomorrow.  Not sure how that is going to go since there will be a long break in between reading it and taking the test.

The book is How Big is a Pig and contains the line “But how big is a pig?” on every page.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but Ella laughed every time she read the word but.  I called Lauren over to get video of her reading it and then laughing. Unfortunately, Lauren is on a road trip to the Fiesta Bowl and hasn’t yet uploaded the video.