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!
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!
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 to the PPL beginning 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 goal is to simplify the process and empower the children to read. Here’s how...
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 - Letter “Aa” is taught with the short vowel sound. They meet “Adgit” and his cousin, Adam, who were eating apples and had an accident so they called for an ambulance... After a week of experiencing the “aah” sound through stories, songs, games, food, worksheets, sign-language and activities in drama, math, science and art, the children move on to Letter “Tt.”
Step 2 - The children meet “Tidgit” who goes on a trip to Tahiti, eats tangerines, meets
a tiger... and the children experience the “t” sound all week (same as above).
Step 3 - Then the “Slide” technique is introduced and the children learn how to slide the letter sounds together to form a word: “aah”-“tuh” slide together forming the word “at.”
Step 4 - Flash Cards now come into play. Each time a new word is learned, a new flash card is created for that word. The first flash card would say “at” - the first word. 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.
You could 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.)
Step 5 - The next letter sound taught is for the letter “Cc” (week 3). The children meet “Cadgit” and his cousin, Carl, who are both cowboys that go camping and come upon a cabin with curtains... and the children hear and learn about “cuh” all week. At the end of the week, when they know “Cc” says “cuh” - you would slide “cuh” and “at” together, forming the word “cat” - and create another flash card. Now the children should be able to read “at,” “the,” “cat,” in any order.
Step 6 - The next letter and sound for the week is “Tt,” taught the same way as the other three letters and sounds. The children will have learned a new word, “rat.” Now they can practice reading “The cat. The rat.” (The first part of Color Reader #1.)
Step 7 - The last of the unit “sight words” (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.” “The cat is on the rat.” “The rat is on the cat.”
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.
Please know, if a child is only getting the letters and sounds, but not quite able to read
words yet, that’s OK! At some point in this process, they will see the pattern and then they will really fly with their reading! It’s just being patient while they catch the pattern.
For many, sometimes learning to read “sight” or “word family” words (like: at, am, an) is a drill and memorization process. We’ve tried to make this “catching the learning process” fun and exciting! Let the children tell you 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.
MATCH (or CONCENTRATION) - make two of each word, flip them over and mix them up and have the children find the word matches.
"SCAT CAT"- The end of Unit 1 would also be a perfect time to introduce them to the PPL “SCAT CAT” card game, which is a blast!
"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.
Once this is completed, the same process begins again with Unit 2 (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.)
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!)
After learning the “sight words” for Unit 2 (hello, saw, then, has, this), 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!)
Using the Power-Plus-Learning “Phonics to Reading” program, a child who has NO
knowledge of letters and sounds can be reading 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!