February 7, 2011

Last year we learned the first 26 phonograms of the alphabet and a few others like "sh" "ch" and "th". Then we took those phonograms and started putting them together to build words. Simple short words like "cat" and "pan". Then I introduced the idea of blending consonants and we did a little work on that adding this new idea to our word building. Now we could build words like, "stop" and "band". I utilized the Blend phonics word lists and progression ideas and created games to help cement the new idea and give more practice to reading sonds and putting them together. We also began handwriting with cursive.
This year we began by getting more acquainted with vowels. Long vowels and comparing them with short vowels which we learned about last year. We began to utilize Websters blueback speller to learn about syllables, and to put words into sentences and do formal reading lessons with McGuffey's Primer. We also began copywork in manuscript. We continue to practice our cursive by tracing.
We are continuing to learn Orton's 72 phonograms within the context of McGuffey primer. I thought #27-72 would make more sense in a context rather than just as isolated entities. So in a way we are not yet finished with phonics even though we are beginning to read. The Mcguffey Primer builds from simple logic and words to complex logic and words in such a nice way. I really appreciate this since it has been eons since I learned to read and steps are not my forte. Before each lesson I will introduce the new phonograms we have not learned yet. I keep them organized on metal rings. One ring for phonograms we know, another metal ring for those we have not yet learned. 

Then I introduce all new and unfamilar words using Charlotte Mason Methods for teaching reading. Sonya at Simply Charlotte Mason just recently posted some clear and practical guidelines about how this method works here. The first day I begin with what Charlotte called "sight words." The boys use the following tools to do the "sight word" lesson.

1. All the words from the story we are reading today. Printed onto cardstock and cut into indiviual words.

2. Two upper case alphabets and  four lower case alphabets cut into individual letters plus two sets of consonant blends

3. The story in written form. In our case the McGuffey Primer. This edition I purchased here because Classical Reading and Writing Publications has added copywork to the primer which I thought was just the right thing for us at the moment.

The sight word lesson simply allows the boys practice in recognizing any new words in the up coming story and makes them more familar. The lesson should last no more than 20-30 minutes. We do it over the space of two days. It goes like this:
Day 1:
1. I write the new or unfamilar words on the board. This lesson the words were: sing, stand, love and cage. 2. We read the words together.
3. They find the words in the loose words I have given them of the story they are doing that day.
4.  The make the words with their loose letters.
5. They find the words in the printed story.

Day 2:
1. Usng the loose words from the story and the printed story they put the story together with the loose words.
2. read the story.
3. Do the copy work in the book.

On day three, we begin word building lessons with the same words. Sometimes I change out words and use different words than the unfamilar or new ones we used in the "sight word" lesson if there is a word in the story that has a more interesting stem to build on. The purpose of this lesson is to build upon something we know and make more things from it...to create words, and sentences from letters and words they know. here is how this lesson goes:

Day 3:
1. I give them three stems of words printed on coard stock and cut up to build with. This lesson we will use, -ill, -ing, and -age.
2. They make as four different words from those endings. They make a line of the words on the table in front of them as they create.

3. They read the words on the list they made.
4. They make one sentence using a word from each line. They will have an -ill word, an -ing word, and an
-age word to put into a sentence.

Max makes this sentence with ch-ill.

Zak makes this sentence with str-ing.

T.J. makes this sentence with c-age.
5. They copy the three sentences onto primary lined writing paper.
What I love about this set of language lessons is this...the boys do so much of the work and have fun doing it. They make words to read, they make sentences to copy. They are doing the learning. My role in these lessons is to set it up, guide them in how to do it, and let them go. I wander around helping to over turn hidden letters or words, to say "what a great word!" or "how about this letter?" if they are stuck. The words in this short little story are no longer new and unfamilar.. they are old friends. That will make reading more and more of a thrill as they realize how much they know by having so much fun!
(UPDATE: The loose words and letters are now available here for FREE!)


  1. Hi Sarah,

    I am introducing myself, my name is Sara. I am a homeschool mom of 4 and stumbled on your site yesterday. I like the free resources! Thanks!

    I, too, love the simplycharlottemasonmason site's reading suggestions. Sonya is great, I saw her last fall at an all day conference.

  2. That looks like a great system to learn phonics, spelling, reading and writing all together. Does it come in a kit? Or did you make up all the word cards yourself? Also the dice you spelled fun with, can you purchase those or is that just clip art?

  3. Hi Michelle,
    I made my own "kit" with Microsoft Word. It wasn't too difficult though it does take some time. The letters and words were printed onto card stock for durability.
    The "fun" title and the other titles were made with the dice letters from our Boggle game and photographed on my old wooden cutting board.