Thursday, December 9, 2010

Word Family Books and activity

Alright, so if you don't know, I am all about phonics.  I learned how to read using phonics, and I taught first graders how to read for six years using phonics.  I know that pendulum keeps swinging back and forth and a lot of schools are leaning more towards the whole language approach currently, but I am still a lover of all things phonics.  I don't think that will ever change.

So when it came time to teach Little Man how to read, I've just been taking a slow and systematic approach.  As I explained earlier, I have no set age where I want him to read.  I want him to learn how to read properly and to love it in the process.  I don't want to force anything on him.  Or have him "reading" at age 5, but by the time he gets to second grade he doesn't really have a good foundation and falls apart.  (That has happened to a number of students in the past, because they were just sight reading.)

Sooooooo.... I started out (long ago) teaching letter recognition.  From there we went to learning the letter sounds.  He has had that down for quite some time now, but has had no interest in putting those sounds together.  Until now! :)  I decided that I would start with having him try to read/sound out three letter short vowel words.  This is a common approach to learning to read.  While looking at the library for books to help me (that he could "read"), I came across a set that I think are awesome!
They apparently come in a box set (for anywhere from $59 to $65 online), but at the library you can check them out individually.  I think teaching word families is great in general, so using books that teach word families was exciting to me.  For those of you non-teachers who may not remember what a word family is--it's words that end in the same two or three letters.  Essentially they rhyme.  But it is taught that they are all part of a "family".  For example, if it's the "IN" family, they would all end in "IN".  Then you can teach that if you know how to spell/read "IN", then you can also spell/read "tin"... and if you know how to spell/read "tin", then you know how to spell/read "fin".  You get the point.

I picked up a few of the easier or more common word family books, broke out the magnetic letters and cookie sheet, and got to work teaching Little Man how to read. :)

First, I explained word families.  He's good at rhyming, and we often play word games like "if you took the b off the front and put a t there then what word would it be".  So he sort of had a basis.

Whatever the word family was that we were reading, I put on the magnetic board.  Then I put letters on top that could be switched out to make sense.  It's ok to make nonsensical words when first learning this concept, but I wanted it to make sense to him.

Then I would have him move a letter in front and read the word for me.
The first time didn't go so great, but after that he got it.  Now he speeds through them.

After we do the activity that matches the book we are about to read, I read and stop at all the words that are a part of the word family we just practiced.  Then Little Man "reads" them.  There are times he just guesses a word, because he looked at the picture and thinks that's what it's suppose to say.  For the most part, though, he's been doing great.  He's even sounded out some four letter words.

I highly recommend picking these up at your library if they are available.

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