Return to "Phonics to Reading"
The Power-Plus-Learning “Phonics to Reading” program teaches letters and sounds
in a logical order that promotes reading in a fun, stress-free way!
SHORT Vowel Sounds
The goal of this program is to help children learn to read confidently and as quickly as
they desire. In order to do that, while teaching the entire alphabet, we focus on the
“short” vowel sounds and teach the main sound of each of the other consonants.
Keep in mind each vowel has at least two sounds. The “short” vowel sound is often the
most difficult to learn, that is why we focus on that sound and make it fun and easy!
The “short” vowel sound says:
ă (aah - as in sat, camp, apple)
ĕ (eh - as in end, set, education)
ĭ (ih - as in if, into, pig)
ŏ (awh - as in on, hot, mop)
ŭ (uh - as in bug, hundred, gum)
The “long” vowel sound is the name of the letter:
ā : (ay - like say or hay)
ē : (ee - like be or pea)
ī : (aye - like hi or bike)
ō : (oh - like open or close) and
ū : (you - like unique or unit)
The tricky part is that the letter “Aa” also has the “schwa” sound which always says “uh” (as in "about," "alone," "Alaska," or when it’s by itself, as in “a” dog or “a” lot.)
Here we must add that many people teach that the other vowels also have the “schwa” sound when, a lot of the times, that same word can really be pronounced by using the “short” vowel sound of that letter! Why confuse the children??? We don’t!
HARD Consonant Sounds
Some of the consonants also have what’s called “hard” and “soft” sounds, like the letters “Cc” and “Kk.” We will explain both, as our program introduces both, but focuses on the “hard” sounds since that’s what a lot of the one syllable words use.
* The “hard” sound is usually accompanied with vowels - a, o and u:
The hard sound of “Cc” is “cuh” (like the “Kk” sound): cat, cop, cut, etc.
The hard sound of “Gg” is a soft “guh” sound: gap, got, gum, game, go, etc.
*The “soft” sound is usually accompanied with vowels - e and i:
The soft sound of “Cc” is “sss” (like the “Ss” sound): cent, cieling
The soft sound of ‘Gg” is “juh” (like the “Jj” sound): gem, giant
You’ll find there are some exceptions to the “rules” (like “girl” which doesn’t follow
the “i” rule and have the ‘soft’ sound (like giraffe). It doesn’t say “juh-irl,” but rather
the “hard” sound that says “guh-irl.” (These “rules’ and “exceptions to the rules”
make learning to read English a little difficult. Even though our program doesn’t get
into this level of reading and explanations, we will briefly explain here, so you can see
the power of why we teach what we do, in the order we do.)
The letters “Ll” and “Rr” have what we call “controlling sounds” - they control the
sound of the vowel or take control of the syllable. At the beginning of the word, the
letter “Ll” should say a soft “luh” (as in lap, leg, lip, lot, lug). We don’t say, “el-ap,”
but rather “luh-ap.” Likewise, we don’t say “el-eg” but “luh-eg,” etc. That’s why we
use “luh” as a beginning sound, becomes it comes at the beginning of the word!
When the letter “Ll” comes after a vowel or at the end of the word, it takes control:
“al” (as in the word “all”) which sounds different than in the word “alligator,” yet they
both have “all” - this is due to the different syllables.
“el” (as in “elephant”) has the same sound as “saddle” even though both words have
“le” in them.
“ul” (as in “ultimately”) sounds different in the word “mule.”
These are examples of how the letter “Ll” controls the syllable or vowel.
The letter “Rr” works the same way. At the beginning of the word, “Rr” usually has a
soft “ruh” sound (rag, red, rip, rot, rug). Again, we don’t say “er-ag” - we say “ruh-ag.”
But “Rr” can also take control of the syllable or control the vowel sound:
1. “Rr” can make words say two different sounds:
“ar” in car, verses circular or earth - where “ar/ear” says “er”
“or” in born, verses work or comfort - where “or” says “er”
2. “Rr” usually makes “er,” “ir,” and “ur’ say “er”(her, dirt, turn, etc.)
3. “Rr” can just change the sound of the word:
“ar” as in “care” - where “ar/are” says “air”
As we teach “beginning reading,” we also teach “beginning sounds,” making the
beginning sounds of “Ll” and “Rr” say “luh” and “ruh.” We don’t get into to many
rules like multiple vowels and syllables. Nor do we teach that the letter “Yy” (as a
consonant, has a soft beginning sound of “yuh”) can also act like a vowel and say both
“aye” (as in “sky”) and “ee” (as in “silly”) . This also depends on syllables, and
belongs in the next level where syllables and “long” or multiple vowels are taught.
The power in our "Phonics to Reading" program comes in the fact that we focus on the sounds of the letters and we teach one syllable words with short vowel sounds. Once children catch this concept, they really fly and are ready to learn more rules and exceptions!
Our Simplified Approach to Reading
Our goal is to simplify the process and empower the children to read. Here’s how we do it, step by step...
In Unit 1, the first letters and sounds experienced are "Aa" (“short” vowel sound), "Tt," "Cc" and "Rr"; with the five sight words: the, on, a, is, and.
Step 1 - One Letter Sound Per Week
(Week 1 = Letter “Aa” is taught with the short vowel sound and "Adgit.” The sound of "aaah" is experienced through stories, songs, games, food, letter worksheets, sign-language and interactive ideas in drama, math, science and art. Week 2 the children experience “Tt” the same way.)
Step 2 - The Slide Technique
Then the children are introduced to the phonetic “Slide” Technique through which the children learn how to slide the letter sounds together to form a word. The sound of "Aa" ("aaah”) plus the sound of "Tt" ("tuh”) slide together forming the word “at.” ("a" + "t" = "at")
Step 3 - Flash Cards and Worksheets
Each time a new word is learned, a new flash card is created for that word. Since the first word the children learn in Unit 1 is "at," their first flash card would be “at.” (A flash card for “the” (one of the five “sight words” in Unit 1) could also be created and used to practice reading “at the” - while verbally making sentences.
Besides "letter" worksheets each week, "Word Family" worksheets are also included to help prepare children to read their little color readers. Even if they can’t “read” the sight words yet, they can see which sight words match and circle the pairs. This also helps them to recognize those words.
Step 4 - Integrating GAMES
VERBAL games work both the vocabulary and imagination and really help with the beginning reading process. As one begins learning to read "at" and "the" for example, one might say something like... “Let’s go play” (or work, or eat) and point to the flash cards where a child would read “at the”) and then that child would say where he/she would play, work, or eat (at the “park,” “table,” “zoo,” “museum,” “house,” etc. Any “place” really.)
HINT: For many, sometimes learning to read “sight” or “word family” words (the, at, etc.) is a drill and memorization process. We’ve tried to make this “learning process” fun and exciting! Let the children tell you if they want to do more (like drill and memorize). You can always use flash card or word games to make drill and memorization fun.
BINGO - let the children write the words they know (one in each square) and play bingo with their words.
MATCH (or CONCENTRATION) - make two of each word, flip them over and mix them up and have the children find and say the word matches.
"SCAT CAT"- The end of Unit 1 would also be a perfect time to introduce them to the Power-Plus-Learning “SCAT CAT” card game, which is a blast!
A. Continuing Unit Letters
At this point, one would introduce the next letter sound (Unit 1 : Week 3 - the letter sound of “Cc” - "cuh"). The children meet “Cadgit” and hear, learn about and experience “cuh” all week.
The next letter and sound for Week 4 is "ruh" with the letter "Rr." After which the children will have learned “rat” and can begin to practice reading: “The cat." or "The rat.” (The first part of Color Reader #1.)
B. Continuing Unit Sight Words
The rest of the Unit “sight words” (Unit 1 - on, a, is, and) can now be taught, one at a time. This prepares them to read more little sentences:
“The cat and the rat.” “A cat is on the rat.” “The rat is on the cat.”
C. Continuing Verbal Games
Do another verbal game, having the child read “The cat is on the...” and then the child says a word he imagines the cat on (the car, the garage, the roof, etc.) You could even write down the words the child says and put them next to the words they know how to read, so that they can visually see that any word spoken can also be written. Again, it would be their word. (The more it's the child's word, the bigger the desire to read "their" word.)
*** Importance of THE PATTERN
Steps 1-4 are "the pattern." Please know, if a child is only getting the letters and sounds of the week, but is not quite able to read sight or word family words yet, that’s OK! At some point in this process, he or she will see the pattern and then will really fly with reading! It’s just being patient while they catch the pattern.
Step 5 - Next Unit
Once Unit 1 is completed, the same process begins again with Unit 2, teaching letters and sounds and adding them to the previous Unit's word families.
Letters “Ss”- sat, “Hh”- hat, “Mm”- mat, and “Nn”- nat (which is NOT a real word spelled like this, but is in other words like “natural” or “nation” so they are learning to break down syllables without knowing it. That is why they count as “unreal” words in our “Scat Cat” game, making it easy for the children to get points just for reading! Even if it’s not a real word, it is a real syllable in a real word.)
Step 6 - Color Readers & Timed Readings
After learning the letters in Unit 2, the children should be able to read their first two Color Readers. To help them with reading “speed” and “accuracy” - timed readings are included in these darling readers! The children will want to do these over and over and over. You just tell them they get “three” tries to try and beat their own score. (I had a sheet printed out with 10 columns to write down their scores and knowing they only had to do three, the did all 10, getting higher and higher. If they started getting lower, we stopped for a time.)
Without a doubt, they will want to try and beat their own score more than three times. You will NOT have a problem getting them to read after this. (Even our High School aged kids loved doing these timed readings and began competing with each other, and ME. They loved beating MY timed reading score. We were able to get in the high three hundred / low four hundred words per minute range. It really is a hoot! You’ll love it!)
Unit 2 Sight Words - After learning the “sight words” (hello, saw, then, has, this) and "word families" (am, an) for Unit 2, the children should be ready to read the next three Color Readers. (That’s FIVE little books in just two months.) They will be SO proud of themselves! (And so will you!)
Step 7 - Previous then Current
When teaching new letters and sounds, always add them to the previous word families first to create new words. Then teach the children the current Unit's word families and add all previous letters then that Unit's letters to that Unit's word families, including the new letter sounds just taught.
This method helps children catch "the pattern" of reading. They are already familiar to the previous letters, sounds and word families, so adding to them empowers the children with confidence in their ability to read.
By using the Power-Plus-Learning “Phonics to Reading” program, a child who has NO knowledge of letters and sounds can be reading in the first two months, and could be on a first grade reading level before the year is over... and loving every minute of it.
Try it! You’ll be so glad you did!