Saturday, March 13, 2010

Learning to Read

For a while now I have been thinking about doing a post on how I teach my little ones to read.  I like to combine resources and use them for our benefit and possibly not quite as they were intended.   The longer I home school the more I find myself doing that sort of thing. 

The first thing that I do is when they are 2-4 (or interested) I give them a wooden alphabet puzzle.  They play with it and get to know the shapes as they put it together.  We play a game where I call out a letter and they find it and put it in its place. 

When they get pretty good at this I begin doing short phonics lessons from Simply Phonics by Laurie Hicks.  She teaches each letter by telling a short story to introduce the letter and its sound thereby giving the child something to *attach* the letter to in his mind aiding him to remember the letter and its sound.  For example, when teaching the letter Mm, she tells the story of mother cow calling to her calf saying Mmmmm.  A picture of the moon is also given with a little saying something similar to this:  when mother cow calls to her baby she says Mmmm and Mm is the first sound in moon.

As the name suggests, this is a simple way to teach the letters and their sounds.  The lessons are no more than 5-10 minutes and the stories are simple and cute.  After we learn the letters and their sounds, we move on to Abeka phonics instruction.  I like their phonics handbook and the charts that go with it.   They are colorful and give lots of needed practice.  I also use the phonics workbooks if I have a student that likes worksheets.  Not all do, especially little boys.  :)

After we learn the vowels and

begin putting sounds together, we add these readers.

These are short reading practices and stories.  They are perfect for little hands. We always practice until the child has mastered the book and then put a sticker on the front.  The little ones feel such a sense of accomplishment

when they put their sticker next to big brother or big sister's.  

Usually after we get through all of these books they are reading pretty well.  We just keep practicing with easy readers and I like to use the Abeka phonics workbooks for reinforcement.  They are short and colorful with varying exercises.  

For my littles that love workbooks, we have added in these.

These books give a good bit of writing practice although they don't teach handwriting skills.  Of course, I can't forget to mention Starfall.  It is a wonderful resource for reinforcing those phonics skills. 

That's it!  I have tried several phonics programs but I always come back to this method.  It works for us.  What works for your family?  I would love to hear. 

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