September 1, 2011

This Years Curriculum: Phonics Rule Book

Last year I sat down with my three little scholars and we had a pow wow about what to do about learning to read this coming year. I showed them various things I had, told them what each curriculum could teach them and what the lessons would be like. Out of that discussion my oldest said quite emphatically that he wanted to learn all the rules. I thought kids hated rules. But as I have come to understand, firstborns often make this choice. So I had Harvey Bluedorns Handy English Encoder Decoder and also ABC's and All Their Tricks by Margaret Bishop, with these two in hand I went to work to create a fun, kid friendly, non boring, quick, way to become familar with over 200 rules for decoding English words. I ended up mostly using Mr. Bluedorn's book because it was more simply written. Here is what I came up with.

I decided to create a book they could interact with and essentially make themsleves. It would become by the end of this year their own handy resource just like I have mine. I made the book with cardstock pages for durability.  One page for each letter of the alphabet. The Encoder Decoder book has the rules laid out by letter so we did the same in our book.

The front of the book has their name in alphabet kids letters which they will color as they like. It is black and white like the other language arts materials I found at our local Jo Ann's Fabric Store. It is bound with our ProClick binder which I absolutely love!

Each page has a pocket labeled with the alphabet kid for that particular letter. We made all of the vowels with red pockets and the consonant pockets alternate between blue, yellow and green. The pocket will hold a card for each rule that letter has; for example Letter "A" has 20 rules and letter "B" only has 5 rules so they will have that many cards in their pocket. I made the cards in Publisher and printed them onto cardstock.

How we will do the short 20 minute lesson...

Each morning I will present one rule and explain it so they all understand what it means. I will write the rule down on our white board and they will spend a few minutes copying the rule onto their 3 x 5 card and place it in the pocket. After the first rule is presented then we will begin the next days lesson by reviewing the previous days rule with this page below which I also made using Publisher.

On this page (it is not cardstock but regular printing paper) I have printed all of the words used in all of the letter "A" rules around the edge of the page. The alphabet kid wonders to himself which of these words applies to rule #1. My little scholars will be able to re-read their rule card to help them find and circle the
word(s) that would fit to rule #1 or #2 etc. Then they write that word in the blank space around the alphbet kid. Lastly they will write the name of the rule at the bottom of the page.

As we go along we should be able to complete one rule a day and perhaps we will get most of them in before the end of the school year. My goal is not for them to memorize or to master these it is simply to create a resource book they know well and can use the same way I use the Handy English Encoder Decoder book to answer my qustions. But I am suspecting that some of the rules will stick and other rules will be more familar later when they see them again.

Next in our day is reading practice with The Elson Readers!


  1. Wow! That is an impressive reading program you have made. Wouldn't consider making one to sell, would you? I would love to have one.

  2. Hi ... I must say that your blog is exceptional. I am planning something for my child on similar lines. he is now almost 6
    wanted your inputs and any more details if you wld like to share on this topic
    also wld you suggest me buy the book Harvey Bluedorns Handy English Encoder Decoder
    wld like to here from you
    thanks - rupali

    1. Thank you rupali for your kind words about our blog. I would highly suggest buying the Bluedorn's book. I didn't know many of the phonics rules so the book really helped me to get my head around all those details. It also includes the spelling as well as the decoding rules. I would be happy to answer more questions for you...if you use my email that is at the upper right below my profile I'll be hapy to answer you. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  3. Thank you SO much for this! My daughter caught on very easily to phonics but doesn't really know the rules. I love the idea of having this as a resource for when she need it. We will be adding this to our material for this year!