Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reading for the Little Ones

I still haven't gotten Aidan into blending, though he's known all his letter sounds for a couple of years and is now learning the phonograms. The concept of sounding out and then pronouncing the word just isn't coming to him, though. I have been doing a lot of research trying to find something that will click with him. He is stuck in 100 Easy Lessons and honestly, after teaching four kids with it I am just bored, especially since I can't get him past lesson 20.

Last week I found this online ReadKEY Vocabulary Program. It is a subscriber program but has a trial version which has a very interesting approach. You put words on a "word wall" and then have the children read them frequently during the course of the day until they are mastered. There are ten words a week, and it is based on the most frequently used words in English language. So in that way it is like Spell to Read and Write, but obviously without as much of a written component (writing has proved to be extremely difficult for Aidan though he has made progress).

I made a file with the first 6 weeks of word practice from the first grade section of the ReadKEY site. (the pages look like the gif above). The way it is set up on the site, the "word wall" words are huge, so you can see them from the back of the schoolroom, of course. So I retyped them to an 80 font which fits well on the page. I fold the paper in half lengthwise (a "hot dog" fold) and then tack it up on the wall in the kitchen. It is easy then to review whenever there is a spare moment. The highlighted words are called "word of the day" and they are the unusual phonetics or exception-words that are very common, but difficult to teach phonetically. The highlighting helps clue the kids in to treat them as exceptions.

I am thinking that I could use this basic method with almost any kind of reader. You can see that the vowels are contrast colors in order to give the kids some help with discerning vowels, but as time goes on obviously it is a good idea to use normal colors for the words. What I'm planning to do is print out the "old" words in b&w and tack them in a different place in the house, and keep the colored "new" words of the week up in the kitchen.

One more thing -- the words in SWR and in this ReadKEY are based on Ayres's Spelling Scale -- he figured out statistically the most common words in the English language and broke them down into levels of difficulty -- you can find his book here in its entirety. I was glad to find it because I didn't realize it was in the public domain.

I haven't decided what to do with Paddy yet, as far as reading goes. I call him a kindergartener though he wouldn't quite have met the cut-off date in our state's public school (his birthday was in December). He can already read several words out of the Tintin books. I am hoping that the passive exposure to phonics via Aidan's work will pay off and the process of actually teaching him will be simple.