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 bookadventure.com.  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.

Phonogram Mastery Update

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Ella is soooooo close to mastering all the phonograms.  Just some fine-tuning left.  I think I need to make three videos, based on the grouping of the lessons on my CD as shown below.    That would be easier, but not nearly as impressive.

Lesson Groups for Videos?

Lesson Groups for Videos?

The word but continues to make Ella laugh.  In fact, the last time she encountered it, a couple of days ago, she was still laughing about it two pages later.

Second Test at Book Adventure

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Ella completed The Foot Book and took the test at www.bookadventure.com yesterday.  I was wondering how they would come up with questions for the book, but there were good questions.  Ella got all five right the first time.  I’m hoping she gets excited about earning points just to earn points someday, but I’m not sensing it yet.

We continue to review the final few phonograms until she gets them down well enough to record.  Not going as fast as I’d anticipated, but I’m not going to complain about her knowing almost all of the 70 phonograms.

First Test at Book Adventure

December 15, 2012 1 comment

Over the last two days, Ella read Three Little Kittens.  Today, she took the test over it at www.bookadventure.org.  I did not make her read the questions because that would be a lot of effort and Book Adventure isn’t about reading even more, it is about showing that what was read was comprehended.  The first five-question test Ella took she missed 2 questions.  She then retook the test and four of the questions were new.  So, on this book she correctly answered 7 out of 9 questions and earned 100 points.  Next up is The Foot Book.  Once she has read and tested on that book, I’m buying her a game for the Nook called Bad Piggies.

My goal this weekend is to get Ella to 100% on the phonograms and record her showing her knowledge.  She is very close, as I’ve mentioned before so it should be doable.  Once that recording is made, Ella will have earned Angry Birds Rio.  I didn’t plan to buy two games for her so close together, but I also didn’t anticipate her testing at Book Adventure this soon.

Ella struggles with some of the phonograms she knows when reading and encountering them in words.  Reading more and more should help her get past this.

I’m seriously considering using WinFlash to help Ella learn some of the more common words that she keeps sounding out.  This would be a big step for me because I’m not a big believer in sight words.  I will expect her to sound them out each time and with repeated and concentrated review they should become sight words.  Don’t know if that is true, but that is my hypothesis.  Will report on how that goes.

Favorite Reading Picture

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

I was just reading some of the early posts and came across this picture. It is my favorite on the blog and I had to repost it.

Reading in a Basket

Reading in a Basket

Belated Update

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve not been blogging much lately, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy.  Ella now knows all 70 phonograms!  There are a few that she doesn’t know quite as well as I’d like, but we are working on them.  She has to stop and think on a couple of them, but once she has them all cold, I’m going to record her and upload a video of her going through all 70.  I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

Ella recently completed lesson 14 so we looked ahead to the last four lessons and when I discovered she already knew many of the remaining phonograms, I decided to work on all four lessons at once, teaching her the ones she didn’t already know.  Once she got close to mastering them all, I created a WinFlash deck with the remaining ones and after only two days using that, she knew all 70.  WinFlash, as I’ve stated before, is awesome.  Because I recorded all the phonograms years ago, it is easy for me to create a deck with audio.  I again highly recommend this program.

Below is a screenshot of all 70 phonograms.

All 70 Phonograms

All 70 Phonograms

Here are some notes on how things went since my last post relative to the phonograms.  Earlier this week, when going through all of the phonograms, Ella inexplicably forgot the sounds of y.  She has known those sounds for months!  This type of forgetfulness seems to happen occasionally with Ella as regular readers of the blog would know.  It is very frustrating.  Now that we are in the final stretch, Ella must include all the verbiage of the phonograms.  For instance, ee must be called double e, the phonograms like aw and au must be differentiated by which one is used at the end of words and which isn’t and the multiple-letter phonograms that match single-letter phonograms must include the number of letters (like ph, igh, kn, etc.).

Ella is very proud that she can recite all six sounds of ough now.  It is quite an accomplishment for a 4-year-old.  The confidence she is displaying when being quizzed on most of the phonograms is very exciting for me.  I thought until recently she had to do the er sounds in order of the sentence, “Her first nurse works early”, but she showed me yesterday she can do them in any order.

As I look at all the phonograms above, I do believe the only two remaining that give Ella trouble are ei and ie.  We have some tricks to help her remember the difference so I’m confident she will master them soon.

Ella’s reading continues to improve as she learns her phonograms.  Today she was reading from Bob Books Level C Set 1, Book 2.  For the most part, it is going very well.  Yesterday, however, she absolutely could not sound out the name Jane.  For some reason, she would sound it out correctly, but then could not use the long a sound when saying the name.  Instead, Ella would try to combine the long and short sounds of a.  We tried for ten minutes to get that right.  There were three other words on that page with the long a sound where the silent final e made the a say the long sound and during this entire time, she could sound them out with no problem.  I had to call my son over to confirm I was hearing Ella correctly because I was beginning to lose my sanity.  After we were done reading and headed to Ella’s room to put on her pajamas, she told me she was “joking me.”  If that’s right, she did a masterful job of it.

I came across an interesting blog this evening in which a mother was writing about her excitement due to her 4-year-old son learning to read.  They are using the Logic of English resources I recently wrote about.  Read the post at http://www.onlypassionatecuriosity.com/.  The title of the post is My Baby Can Read. Also, Logic of English is Awesome.

I hope to have the video of Ella reciting all 70 phonograms soon.

Books are Getting Longer

December 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Ella completed book number 7 of Level B Set 2 this morning.  We started reading it yesterday and took three different sessions to complete it.  Sessions one and three went really well, but session two drove me crazy.  There were a number of inexplicable problems when she was reading that time.  It was the middle of the afternoon so there wasn’t really a reason I could determine.

Some notes from this book:

  • Whenever she sounds out sh she has to put her finger to her mouth as if shushing someone.
  • Ella does a great job with the past tense ending ed.  She knows all three sounds and figures out which one goes with a word.  Seems like it would be more difficult, but not for Ella.
  • Phonogram ng is tough.  She does the nasal sound OK, but it often doesn’t sound quite right in a word.  A challenging word from this story is stronger.  First, an example of an inexplicable problem is that she sounded out the o as some other vowel sound.  I knew it would be a problem word due to the length, but didn’t anticipate that problem.  In stronger we had problems because I told her to sound it out without the er to cut down on the length, but then when the er is added, the g is sounded.  Not sure of the explanation for that.
  • Ella always gets the word at with no problem, unless it comes at the beginning of the sentence.  When that happens, she uses the long a sound.  Evidence that she still doesn’t grasp upper vs. lower case.
  • Ella remembers the first silent final e rule after she sounds out a word and then encounters the silent e.  Most of the words she has read are similar to lake, four letters only.  Today I was having her read words in the lesson words list and when she came across snake and bride, she tried to apply the silent final e to n and r respectively.
  • But came up in the story.  She laughed as heartily as she did the first time.  I’m not encouraging this.  In fact, when I see it coming I wait in anticipation that she will read on by it this time.

While reviewing the phonograms in Lesson 14 Ella remembered that I said oa is o the o of toad instead of boat.  Every time we do that phonogram she has to point that out to me.  This happened weeks ago.  Thankfully she remembers the phonograms as well as she remembers my mistakes.


December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

We finally got the set of Bob Books we’ve been waiting for.  Ella was reading book 5 tonight when she came to the word cooked.  Phonogram oo is one that Ella recently learned.  I often tell her what number sound she should use and then she goes through the sounds and counts until she gets to the sound I advised.  This time, I let her sound out cooked using the first sound (as in soon).  When she sounded it out, she knew that wasn’t quite right and figured out the correct way to say it (with the 2nd sound as in book).  Ella used proximity to figure out the word.  This is an excellent strategy that can be used often.  She did the same thing with nose.  I could see her thinking something was wrong when she used the first sound of s.  I asked what she thinks the right word is and she said it with the 2nd sound of s and knew it was correct.

Ella and I worked on the phonograms today using the CD and she surprised me with the phonograms she knows.  First we reviewed Lesson 12 and she knew them all as expected.  Then we did Lesson 13, which we had not yet worked on using the lesson mode.  Ella already knows 3 of the 4 phongrams (shown below) and the 4th one she learned easily.  The one she didn’t know is ea.  As you can see from the screen shot below, the first two sounds are the sounds of letter e and the third sound is long a.

Lesson 13

Lesson 13

Since she already seemed to be done with Lesson 13, I decided to take a look at Lesson 14.  This time she knew all of the phonograms, as shown below.



This is very exciting because there are only four lessons left.  I told Ella how awesome she will be once she knows all the phonograms.  She has become better and better at sounding out words due to all the reading she does so she really will be a very good reader.

The reason she knows so many phonograms that we haven’t covered in lessons is that Ella is seeing these phonograms in the books she reads.  There is a lot to be said for learning in context.

One way to show a child how many phonograms have been learned is to show the list of phonograms learned up to the lesson currently being studied.  I showed her the lesson 14 list and then we went though them.  Ella knows most of them very well because she was moving from phonogram to phonogram very quickly (and proudly, I might add).  She did run in to trouble with these four phonograms:  ow, ou, oy and oi.  This is my fault as I haven’t been reviewing learned phonograms often enough.  It is so easy to slack off, but it pays to remain focused.

While no longer headline-worthy, Ella continues to laugh at the word but.  Will she ever find but routine?  I assume so but will continue to report on it until that time.