English is Weird

English is weird, oh yes, it is! There are vowels that can be spelled in lots of different ways, silent letters, consonants that can have different sounds, and lots of exceptions.

The English language can be a nasty beast, but it is one that can be beat.

It can be tamed with the super tools here at Phonics Pow!

One of the reasons that English is challenging to learn to read is that 26 letters make 44 sounds, called phonemes! Single letters or letter combinations create 72 different phonograms, written symbols that represent sounds. It is no wonder that reading can be difficult, when it looks like this to students:

O = ŏ in DOG and SOCK, but o = ō in NO and GOLD

And like this:

ea = “ē” in BEAN, ea = “ĕ” BREAD, ea = “ā” STEAK, ea+r = “air” BEAR

Those are just two examples of how English can be weird. Phonics terms that are important for teaching reading can be a little intimidating for those who want to help. But fear not, they will make sense as definitions are included when they are introduced!

At Phonics Pow, we use the ABC method to make sense of English. We Add fun with games, Build skills with memorable rhymes, and use Color coding in a sensible sequence to arm tutors with the weapons they need to tame this beast.

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.

 

Sweet Treats for Phonics

Use these sweet treats to teach phonics patterns in sequence!

II. SOUND OUT WORDS
a. Short Vowels | CVC words – Milk Duds
b. Blends – 100 Grand
c. Short vowels that vary – Kisses (flossy words)
III. VOWEL PATTERNS
a. Silent e – Take Five
b. Bossy R -Star Bursts
c. Diphthongs – Mounds
d. Vowel Teams – Pay Day (Oatmeal Raisin bars are good too!)
e. Vowels that vary
-Dove (Schwa sound)
-Kind bar & Hersheys Gold (i & o can be long when followed by 2 consonants)
-Milky Way (tricky y)
IV CONSONANT PATTERNS
a. Consonant Digraphs – Nestle Crunch
b. Hard or Soft C – Ice Cube gum
V. MULTI-SYLLABLE WORDS
a. Open/Closed Syllables – Zero
b. Consonant-le – Skittles
c. Schwa – Extra gum

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.

Be a Super Reader

This slide presentation with literary artwork shows students the power of reading. The Superman READ poster for National Library Week 1984 from the American Libraries Association: Knowledge is REAL Power!

Reading gives you power: Every book opens up a whole new world. Reading is like magic: You can travel to another dimension. Reading has the power to take you anywhere! You can explore the world, go on adventures, meet people, fly away, visit other worlds. There are many doors to open; open a book and what will you find? You might open the door to imagination, to opportunities, to freedom. You can find answers and solutions, and have access to the greatest minds. You can build a stronger brain. Go above and beyond – READ! The English language can be a nasty beast, but it is one that you can beat!

The average child ages 8-18 reads less than three hours a week…but in that same week, watches television for more than 32 hours. (see video here)  With a television, you can also go on adventures, explore, travel, meet real or imagined people, and even learn. But reading offers a special benefit – it builds a strong brain.

It is universally acknowledged that television is enjoyable, it is easily accessible and extremely consumable. Television is visually attractive and provides instant gratification, but it is passive. It is an easier choice, but it is a path that often leads nowhere.

Reading is mentally active. It is a path that leads to opportunities for education and employment. Check out this Pinterest board with links to more articles about the benefits of reading.

Credit for artwork is provided wherever it was possible, but for some I was unable to find sources. Please contact me with any information regarding credits for artwork at https://www.facebook.com/phonicspow/.

 

Shark Chart!

After learning about Consonant Digraphs with short vowels at the end of the SOUND OUT WORDS section (II.c), and about Bossy R (III.b), it is time to learn about words that have BOTH! Words like…

SHARK CHART

 

 

I was inspired by Shark Week to put together a free set of activities that includes a worksheet, a word search, and a word sort. The words can be sorted two ways: by digraphs or by the Bossy R vowel. The SHARK CHART freebie is available to download at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers. Also available is a free wordlist and set of bookmarks with consonant digraphs and vowel patterns.

PLAY the Shark Chart word search online.

Learn more about Word Sorts and get the free set of word sort games for the Phonics Pow Toolkit.

Word Sort Games

Cover

This set of word sort games designed to go along with the Phonics Pow Toolkit is available as a free download. (link below) Word sorts are a tool for teaching reading skills that have been shown to be effective. We’ve got you covered! Print on cardstock, cut out, store in zip-lock bags, and play while learning.

WordSortGames

Fill the phonogram card with one word card of each pattern for a quick game (player who fills card first wins), or use all the word cards for a longer game (player with the most word cards wins). Mix skip (the turn is skipped if drawn) and swipe (player can take a word card from the other player) cards in with word cards to add fun. POW!

See an index of all the sorts included. Check out the Phonics Pow Toolkit and get your free Word Sort Games!

READ, just read

photo of girl reading book
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Reading 20 minutes a day has been shown by research to have many benefits. Students who read 20 minutes a day from kindergarten through 6th grade are likely to score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests. Basically, reading makes you a smartie!

Smartie1

Below is a collection of great options for reading. Check your local library or a bookstore for books to target specific phonics skills, and explore the links below for books you can access anytime! Besides books and ebooks, your library may provide online access to resources like Bookflix from Scholastic – check with them.

This Symbaloo collection has links to many websites that provide books online. Some even include audio and/or video!

BEGINNING READERS

Decodable books contain only phonetic code that has been learned. Practice with words and sentences from Stickyball.net. Progressive Phonics has books that target phonics patterns that can be read online or printed. Harcourt provides decodable books: k6 thinkcentral.com-K | 1. Freereading.net also has decodable passages.

Emergent readers contain pictures for support and repeating text. shala-books provides emergent and transitional readers with audio. Beginning reads from textproject.org contain many color pictures.

MORE ADVANCED READERS

Check Reading Comprehension at Mr Nussbaum (passages w/audio & comprehension check) and K5 Learning (passages w/comprehension)

Classic Ebooks: Bygosh.com has ebooks for children, and Project Gutenberg has a children’s bookshelf with picture books and children’s literature. Loyalbooks.com has free classic ebooks and audiobooks, and free classic ebooks may be found at Manybooks.net and Planetebook.

With so many options, there is no better time to read than now!

10 Steps to Reading

Learn skills for reading with the following ideas. These tips include some of my favorite free online resources.Reading101

Download the 10 Steps to Reading (pdf)

1. Learn letter names  & sounds, and practice hearing and manipulating sounds; Phonemic awareness.

2. Sound out words with short vowels and CVC words (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant), practice with word families, then continue with consonant blends.

3. Learn phonics patterns in a sensible sequence as the student is ready. Try the phonics presentations at ReadingBear.org and watch fun videos that cover many phonics patterns with Kids vs Phonics from RedCatReading.

4. Practice patterns with picture and word sorts.

5. Play games that encourage literacy. Hands on games include traditional games like Boggle and Bananagrams, as well as many free printable games that can be found through links on specific phonics skills. Free online games are also available at this Symbaloo. The Mozilla Firefox browser may help with Flash games on mobile devices.

6. Read books to practice the patterns. The books from Progressive Phonics are free, fun, and practice the phonics patterns. They can be printed or read online.

7. Learn sight words. Many high frequency words are not decodable with phonics guidelines.

8. Encourage reading 20 minutes a day. Children who do this from Kindergarten through 6th grade score 90% better than their peers on tests. Check out more Benefits of reading.

9. Use your library. Attend storytimes, participate in summer reading programs, check out books & online resources. Choose fun books at the right level.

10. Read “Phonics from A to Z” by Wiley Blevins (online at issuu) and learn literacy terms.

Credits: Some artwork copyrighted by Mark A Hicks, illustrator, www.MARKiX.net. Used with permission. Sources for other graphics at PinterestPattern charts from boostforreaders

Learn more at Reading Basics from ReadingRockets.org. They have a Get Ready to Read screening tool too.

Sequence for teaching reading

PhonicsSequence

The sequence followed by different methods of teaching reading can vary. The Phonics Pow Toolkit is designed to help teachers teach, and students learn with a sensible sequence that builds on skills as they are learned. It is organized in five sections, with most sections having three parts (except the vowel pattern section, which has six). Color coding often provides clues, like the color RED (a CVC word with a short vowel) for the SOUND OUT WORDS section. As much as possible, one syllable words that include only patterns that have been learned are used until the final section.

Closed syllables often have a short vowel (with some exceptions). Open syllables have a long vowel sound, and are most often found in words with more than one syllable. However, there are some one syllable words that are open, like: he, me, we, no, go, and so. These are sight words that are frequently seen in written text, so introducing open and closed syllables with one syllable words is a good plan.

Blends are introduced next, with words that have a short vowel.

Consonant patterns are placed together in one section for convenience. Digraphs are a pair of letters that represent one sound. Consonant digraphs may be introduced with words that have a short vowel at the end of the SOUND OUT WORDS section. Many words with consonant digraphs have advanced vowel patterns that have not been introduced yet, so those are covered as patterns are learned.

The schwa sound is usually a quick and weak “uh” that can be made by any vowel. It is often found in words with more than one syllable. However, there are a few one syllable words with the schwa sound like: of, from, and was. At the end of the silent e section, more is learned with words like “love” and “gloves,” which make the schwa sound instead of being long. The idea of schwa is introduced as a way that vowels can vary.

Learning Vowel Patterns begins with Silent e, then Bossy R, followed by Diphthongs and Vowel Teams. Vowel digraphs or combinations are separated into those that often make a long vowel sound (vowel teams) and those that make mostly new sounds (diphthongs). When diphthongs are introduced first, many of the remaining combinations make a long vowel sound. However, this is not always reliable, and there are many exceptions to learn about, so they are the last vowel patterns to learn. The final section includes Consonant-le syllables and more work with multi-syllable words.

I. GET READY

II. SOUND OUT WORDS

III. VOWEL PATTERNS

IV. CONSONANT PATTERNS

V. MULTI-SYLLABLE WORDS

Phonics instruction that is systematic (presented in a logical sequence) and explicit (directly taught) has been shown by research to be beneficial in teaching reading. Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit and how to be a super reading teacher.

The 44 Sounds of English

One of the reasons that English is challenging to learn to read is that 26 letters make 44 sounds, called phonemes! This means that sometimes letters combine to make sounds. Phonograms are the written representation of a sound, also known as graphemes, and there are 72 phonograms.

WATCH What is a Phonogram? from Raising Robust Readers, and 72 Phonograms from printandpractice.com, a website that also provides printable flashcards. Another video from RRFTS 44 Phonemes from (5:29). Watch more videos at this Phonics Pow Youtube playlist.

LISTEN to phonograms online at the Oxford Owl, or an online chart with audio & video from thelogicofenglish. There is a free Phonogram app from allaboutlearningpress.

The Phonogram Chart below is available free from the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

PhonogramChart

There are lots of exceptions, so the “rules” are more like guidelines. With a few exceptions, the 21 consonants make one sound, so an alphabet chart represents a lot of them. Things begin to get interesting with the vowels, which can be short, or long, or make new sounds.

The first focus in learning to read is on the short vowels. Long vowels say the letter name, while short vowels say the sound. Short vowels are found in words with closed syllables, like those formed by a consonant-vowel-consonant known as CVC words (as in cat and dog).

Next, learn about silent e; an e at the end of a word (except two e’s are like twins that often like to stick together) changes the vowel to the long sound.

Continue with Bossy R: an r after each vowel changes the sound it makes.

Now we are beginning to get into advanced phonics code.

Two letters can work together. Sometimes they make new sounds, like the consonant digraphs CH, SH, TH, WH & NG. (PH can make the /f/ sound)

Vowels can also work together; some can make new sounds, and some (often) make a long vowel sound. Diphthongs are (mostly) vowels that work together to make (mostly) new sounds.

One sound can be represented in different ways. Many of the diphthongs are like this: OI & OY make the same sound, as do OU & OW (although OW can also make a long O sound), and OU has many variations. AU & AW make the same sound as a short O.

One letter or set of letters can make more than one sound. OO & OO is just one example!

Once the diphthong patterns are learned, many of the remaining vowel teams are often (but not always) long.

2 letters that work together, some vowels work as a team. 2 letters can work together, and the first one likes to speak. They might be long (except the diphthongs!), here are some you may have seen.

This part of the chart includes Tricky Y, which can sometimes be a vowel that makes the long I sound, and sometimes the long E sound. Once again, one sound can be represented in different ways.

When all of these phonics patterns are put together, the result is a one page vowel chart that represents many of the vowel sounds.

Download the Grocery Store Vowel Patterns Chart for free at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers. Another resource with the 44 sounds ( pdf) is available at uldforparents.com.

Reading Lesson Plan

Tutoring Sessions
Click the picture to download the ideas for tutoring sessions pdf

This plan to follow for tutoring students learning to read was Inspired by Phonics Intervention from Sarah’s First Grade Snippets. The amount of time spent on different activities varies depending on the needs of the student. The assessments at the end of this post help know where to start. These activities can begin once letter names and sounds have been learned.

WARM UP

Review vowel sounds: Beginners-short or long vowel chart, More Advanced-the Vowel Patterns grocery store chart

Review phonograms with Quizlet flashcards and videos at the Phonogram playlist at the Phonics Pow Youtube channel.

Phonemic Awareness practice (using voice only)

-Segmenting: tutor says word, student takes apart syllables or separate sounds in a word

-Blending: tutor says separate syllables or sounds in a word, student puts them together to say the word.

Games for Phonemic Awareness at the  Phonemic Awareness Symbaloo and a Symbaloo of Literactive Games (on PC)

REVIEW – Review skills from last lesson

LESSON – Introduce a new skill, following sequence as the student is ready. Start with word families for the pattern: little bunny sliders. Printable pdf of word families with phonics patterns.

DECODE (read)

Word Sorts

Look for patterns with Spot and dot sentences at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers and wordsearches at ictgames.

Automaticity: Read sentences with the target skill at stickyball.net

ENCODE (put letter sounds into writing)

Build words (with a magnetic whiteboard and letters, or online magnetic letters from goteachthis.com) Say a word, “how many sounds do you hear? What is the first sound? Etc.” The student uses letter tiles to build it, then writes it.

Manipulate words – Word Building and Substitution-change one sound at a time to make new words

Pattern matching – Write words with the patterns in columns under the correct pattern – Bookmark freebie

FLUENCY

Practice reading with a passage from Progressive Phonics. Find more options at Read, Just Read.

Review sight words with Quizlet flashcards and free bookmarks from Super Tutor Tools. Encode sight words with Sight Words Audible from Mr. Nussbaum

ASSESSMENTS:

Literacy Resources (heggerty.org) has assessments for letter names and sounds skills and phonemic awareness skills.

There are two parts to the “Reading Competency Test” from the National Right to Read Foundation (nrrf.org): ” Part 1 – Phonics Patterns, Part 2 – Reading Level

Symbaloo of Literacy Tools