Tag Archives: phonics

Reading improvement

Big Brother’s reading is really starting to improve; his fluency is starting to ‘kick in” and make reading easier for him.  It is much more like “reading” now and a lot less like “decoding each word”

He is reading though Little Bear and yesterday he even read a story to Little Brother.

big reading to little 8.22.13

Here are a few of the sentences he read, mostly with out stumbling or needing assistance, for his phonics today:

  • The dragon is sitting on the lunch box.
  • A camel is standing beside the cabin.
  • Rob made a model of the wagon
  • Seven ants got lost in the prison.
  • Jean shovels snow on the planet.
  • My kitten can pedal the bike fast.

I am excited about this improvement and hope this is going to turn the page for him.



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Today was sunny and 70 so the boys and I took a walk at The Nature Center.


big 5.11.13

big and trees

brothers at nature center

little 5.11.13

little and trees

Little cryingSomeone hates walking and hiking and getting pictures.

Today Big Brother finished his current phonics book!!  On to the next one; actually we are going to take some time and review before we move forward.  

Book finished 5.11.13


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Big Brother’s phonics 4.26.13

A few of the sentences Big Brother read (quite well) today for part of his phonics:

  • Will it rain if the sky is fair?
  • Can you fix your hair in braids?
  • Will a nail fill pain if it is bent?
  • Will you cheer if you fail a test?
  • Will gray paint be kept in a can?
  • Will you get a prize if you go to jail?
  • Can geese go as fast as a plan?

He is almost done with Explore the Code book 3.5.



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Phonics 2.8.13

Big Brother has been rocking his phonics recently.  We finished Explore the Code 3, then went back and finished Explore the Code 2 ½  which we had done half of before we moved on to book 3.  We are currently working on book 3 ½  (reviewed silent e today).

Some of his recent reading:

  • Gramp is plump and fun.
  • Floss flings her blond wig at Slim.
  • Pol plans to do a stunt for the class.
  • Frank is stung and yells for help.
  • Can you swing a golf club at a plant?
  • Are you fond of crisp crust?
  • The goat will fly to the lake.
  • The flakes of snow float by.
  • Jean sneaks into the show and tell.
  • The mean brush dips Joan in the paint.
  • The toad sings on the train.

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Sight Words, Reading and Word Families

We all know the old war of reading; sight words vs phonic, whole language vs phonic and so on. I have chosen to take a varied approach with our boys. We read a great deal and have a mass of books thus meeting the “rich print environment” and the “submerge them in real literature” aspects of the whole language approach (and I have a labeling obsession too). However, I admit THAT has very little to do with learning to read, and is more an aspect of our family, our parenting and our desire for the boys to love to read, rather than how we hope they will learn to read. Big Brother and I are working though a traditional phonics study, and plan to stay at it till at least 3rd (adding spelling in 1st grade) to ensure a strong and functional ability to decode, not guess at, unfamiliar words quickly and confidently as they are encountered. I have also chosen to practice ‘sight words’ with Big Brother (and Little Brother also) though we will not be depending on memorization in place of decoding and phonics as an approach to reading. Nevertheless the evidence that sight words can effect fluency of reading is strong and many English words ‘break the phonics rules’ and have to be learned outside the decoding of phonics.


A word about sight words:


A list of English sight words, The Dolch Word List, was compiled by Edward William Dolch, PhD, in 1948. The list was originally published in his book ”

Problems in Reading“. Dolch compiled the list based on words used in children’s reading books in the 1930s and 40s. The list contains 220 “service words” that must be quickly recognized in order to achieve reading fluency.

The Dolch Word List is also called Sight Words or The Dolch 220. It includes the most frequently used words in the English language. Sight words make up 50 to 70 percent of any general text.

Big Brother is able to decode simple CVC words at this point, but it not ready to dive into even the simplest easy readers. What he does need, and is ready for, is practice, practice, and more practice with CVC words. I have decided to print several sight words and also word family flash cards to use for reading practice.


For more reading practice I printed the following flashcards on card stock:

  • http://practical-homeschooling.org/wp-content/files/3_word_lists.pdf – I chose this page of word cards because it offered short vowel practice – a list for each of the five main vowels and then 2 cards that are mixes. All work phonically and are solid practice on “decoding” or “sounding words out”. 
  •  http://www.kidzone.ws/dolch/preschool.htm– set one, two and three – the Pre-Primer (pre-school) list of Dolch Sight Words. We did not do sight words for pre-school so we will work on mastering this list, then move on to the Kindergarten list. There are many options for printing the DSW from, I chose this one as they are simple flashcards, no pictures, and I liked the size.
  • http://www.kidzone.ws/phonics/index.htm – I chose to print only 3 word families to start with (In addition to the other flashcards I printed, that is). The an, ap, and at families. I will return and print the other sets. (to get to the flashcards, choose the activities option for each set). I do not like that there are only 6 flashcards for each set, but I can make more later (or find others).

This printing gives us quite a stack of word cards for Big Brother to start practicing.


I then cut the cards apart and laminated them for repeated use and “play”. Both my boys like to be able to handle things, and I’d like the cards to last. After we master reading them, I can see them being used for alphabetical order dills and so on.

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PROUD MOMMA MOMENT:  Big just wrote a note “OIE EOU” if you sound it out is is I LOVE YOU. “I of oo” more correctly — i am soooooooooooooo proud of him — he sounded it out and wrote it 100% alone!!!!!

Momma has some good ideas, if I say so myself.  I have been getting a ton of push back from the boys on the “food plan”.  It is a constant battle, artificial colors and flavors are in everything.  I searched “natural and organic” candy on amazon.com and got many hits for candy by Harib.  Uhhhh let’s READ

Sugar, Corn Syrup, Gelatin, Citric Acid, Fumaric Acid, Starch, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Artificial Colors: FD&C Yellow No. 5, Red No. 40, Blue No. 1.

 in what figging reality is Red No 40 “natural” ?????????

So I am going to look at some truly natural, free of artificial colors and junk, gummies at Trader Joe’s I also, finally, found some on amazon.com that I can order if they are not at the local store (yummy earth brand).  I have to find/ get something; I am allowing the boys too cheat way too much, because it is just a constant battle.  It wears on me and affects the joy of our time together; I am on guard constantly and feel like we bounce from one food fight to another food fight.  At therapy they have a vending machine, the boys LUST after the fruit chewies.  At therapy there is a bowl of DUM-DUMs that leaving kids can have one from (really really annoyed by that one, let me tell you, and plan to address it).  It is a CONSTANT battle.  So I am going to get some ‘fruit chewies’ / gummies they can have.  Nevertheless for EASTER I have a great (or I think) idea.  Each year they each get a book, a toy and then they get to find eggs.  Instead of filling the eggs with candy, I am going to capitalize on the SUPERHERO obsession in this house.  I found 2 items, party favors actually, that I am getting to fill most eggs with; ‘power rings’  (and these too) and figures  .  I let them have chocolate so I’ll put some kisses in a couple eggs, and maybe some other small candy in one or two; but the majority of the eggs are going to be fun little treasures not candy!!

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Today the boys and I worked on phonics.  We got out letter tiles out (one letter per tile, one capital and one lower case and one object card for each letter).  First Big Brother and I went though the 52 letter tiles, he named the letter, the sound and then today’s challenge was to think of a word that started with that letter.  Little Brother ran up to his place by the sofa as soon as we started and while he can’t yet name any of the letters (speech) he did over 10 of the correct sounds.  He stands there so bight eyes and holds his little chubby hand out for his tiles when he gets a sound right; and oh the GRIN.  Big Brother did a pretty good job thinking of words: for S he rattled off ‘snake, sand, sun, summer’ right off.  Some he was confused by (g and j of course) and we spiked ‘X’: it is a lot more difficult to think of words off the top of one’s head vs. choosing a letter to match a given picture; it was fun to watch him have to really think.

After that I had him take the tiles to the table and sort them, capitals together and lower case together.  Not real challenging for him, but a few of them he has to think about.  After he did that 4 times (the final 3 times on his own “can I mix them up and do it again?”) I had him start matching the pairs up.  I think he could do all 26 pairs, but it is a bit overwhelming, all 52 card laying out there.  He did about ten pair then wandered off and I did not challenge him to keep going.  Today is the first day all week the boys and I have done more than practice ASL since they have been sick, and so I didn’t push it.  Emotions were still rather fragile today and by bed the fever had returned so I was glad I left it to him to leave the task.

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