Friday, September 5, 2008

Our Phonics Journey...

... started when the twins, Abby and Robert, were about 2 ½ years old. Abby started pointing out “a, b, c, d’s” I was surprised that one so young would recognize letters. However, I took it as a hint to start teaching the letters and their sounds. I believe the sounds are more important than the names, so that is what I stressed. If you ask Abby to spell her name she will give the sounds /a/, /b/, /b/, /y/. Now you can name a letter and ask them to point to it or give its sound and they will, but they rarely give me the name of a letter. To teach the letters I started making my own signs on the computer. Here is a photo of what I did.

Each week or so – when I felt Abby was ready to learn new sounds – I added two new letters. We would go over the sounds usually once a day. I would point to the letter, say the name, say the sound and the name of the picture that illustrated the sound. For example “A says /a/ apple”, “B says /b/ bell” and so on through the letters they knew.

Robert at first used the /d/ sound for every letter, than when we did the Rr he switched to the /r/ sound for every thing. I could say point the letter that says /g/ and he would point to Gg. I knew he understood the sounds, but he wasn’t making them. Then one day he started using the correct sounds for all the letters.

By the time they turned three, they knew all the sounds, and my question was “What do I do now?” I asked several different people. The most helpful people were a home schooling mom and our school’s kindergarten teacher who had home schooled her daughter. They both liked the Abeka system, so I dug out my Abeka charts that I saved from when I taught at our church’s school and tutored reading.

I felt like there was too much on one chart for mine to learn all at once. I didn’t want to overwhelm them. I broke down the charts and made my own individual pages with one consonant per page. I found a cute ladder in my clip art and used it as the back ground. Then I put “ba”, “be”, “bi”, “bo”, “bu” in the ladder spaces. At the bottom of the page I took the verse that the Landmark Freedom’s curriculum uses for that letter. (Another friend gave me the teacher’s guide for K3) For Bb they use “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31) Here is a photo of how they look.

I made up a little song, which they love. I use their names and names of people they know in the song. For example the song for Rr goes “The R says /r/, The R says /r/, Robert ran round and round, /r/,/r/,/r/” All the songs follow the same pattern. I just make up different phrases for the middle.

Abby started doing the ladders perfectly from the beginning, and Robert went back to his same-sound-for-all-consonants trick. He would sound out /b/,/a/ then say /ra/. He likes his /r/-Robert letter. Then all of a sudden he started using the right sounds, just like he did for the alphabet.

The next step was to get them to read consonant-vowel-consonant words. I tried with Abby on several different pages and styles. At first she would sound it out correctly, but couldn’t seem to get the word put together. Then she started getting a few right, but she still struggled with it so I only would do a few at a time. On evening during bath time I took foam letters that I bought for them to play with in the tub and arranged them to form words. Abby started reading them one right after another. I was so excited. I called in my husband to hear her read. After that night she has been reading any consonant-vowel-consonant word we show her, but she has a limit of how many words she will read at one sitting before she gets tired of it.

They are almost 3 ½ right now. We do a school time on most days. When I went home to visit my family in PA in July I went to my favorite book store. It is run by Mennonite people. They have a large collection of used school books and several new workbooks. The prices are great. I spent about $25 for math and phonics books for the twins, even though I had to buy two of each. We are well into each of the books that we bought. I also print off free worksheets that I find on the web. Mostly for handwriting right now, since I don't have a workbook for that.

I am excited to see them love learning. I hope I can keep them enjoying learning and "school" work. I am also excited about each new concept they learn. I always thought you had to wait until they were five or six to teach them to read, but the twins keep surprising me with their hunger for more knowledge.

I keep "school" time to about 30-45 min. They don't sit for very long. The third desk is for Josiah (18m). He kept getting on Abby or Robert's desk, so I went and got him one - not like he stays in it, but it gives me a place to move him to when he is pushing his way onto the other desks.


Brittany said...

You just gave me a great idea. I love how you broke down the phonics chart into a binder like that. My mother-in-law probably has a BJUP phonics chart somewhere. I think I will dig it out tomorrow.


The materials you made are great!

Nikki said...

What a great idea!

Julia said...

Thank you. I have worked on post for a while. I wanted this to help others who are teaching they children.

Raani said...

I love the idea of making up your own songs for the letters with people's names. Maybe I'll do that for Joseph when he's a little older.