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Part 4 – Helpful hints

There are several helpful hints provided, such as coping with blending words that have double letters, blending longer words, introducing short vowels etc.

Part 4: Helpful hints

 

Here are a few helpful hints:

 

  • Hint 1: The letter sounds need to be known so well that the response is fluent and automatic, whether the children are reading them or writing them from dictation. That same fluency is needed for blending and segmenting words, but for some children that can take longer to achieve. The children who are slower to learn these skills just need more practice than the others.

 

  • Hint 2: When blending a word that has a double letter, it is only necessary to say the sound once. For example, when blending the word rabbit say /r-a-b-i-t/, not  /r-a-b-b-i-t/; similarly for duck, say /d-u-ck/ and not /d-u-c-k/.

 

  • Hint 3: Encourage the children not to be afraid of reading longer words, such as upset and trumpet. Just model the blending by rolling along the word from left to right [demonstration].

 

  • Hint 4: There are many words in English that have a pronunciation that is close to the letter sounds in it, but that is not absolutely accurate. For example, when blending the word puppet, the children say /p-u-p-e-t/ and, as long as that word is in their vocabulary, they easily adjust their pronunciation to say /p-u-p-i-t/, the correct pronunciation. It is not usually a problem, although children who have never heard the word before would need more guidance.

 

 

  • Hint 5: The letter sounds, /a, e, i, o, u/, are known as short vowels. It is worth telling the children that these are special letter sounds and are called short vowels. At this stage, it will not mean a great deal to the children but they become useful later on.

 

  • Hint 6: It is possible to successfully teach reading before writing. However, my preference is to teach the two skills together. This enables the children to understand how the alphabetic code works for reading and writing and that they are the reverse of each other. With writing, the aim is to put something down on paper that can be read at some stage by yourself or by someone else. You start with a blank sheet of paper, you know in your head what you want to write – a word like flag, for example, at this early stage – you can hear the sounds /f-l-a-g/ and you write letters for those sounds: flag. That is how the code works for writing. For reading, you do not hear anything but you see the word in front of you, which may not be known. You then have to look at the letters, say the sounds for those letters, blend them and listen for the word: /f-l-a-g/, flag. And that is the reversibility of the alphabetic code and how it works for reading and writing.

 

  • Hint 7: Lastly, it is still important to continue to develop the children’s language skills and spoken vocabulary through conversations, through explaining the meanings of words, and through reading them stories at home and at school. Looking at books is great fun for children, but what we try and avoid is expecting them to read books that have words with letter sounds that have not been taught, because this prevents them from decoding those words. This causes some children to lose faith in blending and they start to guess words. Guessing words is a sign that reading problems are developing; it is something that should be prevented from the beginning. If it becomes a habit, it is very difficult to get rid of it.

 

So, in conclusion, let us remind ourselves of the aims in Step 1. They are to teach each child to:

 

  • learn the 18 letter sounds,
  • read words that use the 18 letter sounds, blending unknown words,
  • write the 18 letter sounds from dictation, with correct formation and a good pencil grip,
  • and write words that use the 18 letter sounds from dictation.

 

Gradually, the children learn the blending and segmenting skills. Some children find it extremely easy from the beginning, most children gradually learn to do it, and some children find it very difficult. The reasons why some children find it difficult are explained in the section Help with reading and writing problems, which is on the home page. And that concludes the teaching in Step 1.

  • Step 1 - Letter Sounds

    The first 18 letter sounds taught in Step 1. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters or for word building practice.

  • Step 1 - Letter Sounds - print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - bw

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - colour

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - b&w - print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practice forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - color- print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practice forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Word Bank

    The words from the Word Bank can be printed on coloured card, cut up and used for blending practice. As each new letter sound is taught then more words become available for blending.

  • Step 1 - Word Bank - print letters

    The words from the Word Bank can be printed on colored card, cut up and used for blending practice. As each new letter sound is taught then more words become available for blending.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - b&w - print letters

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - color - print letters

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - narrow lines - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - narrow lines - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - wide lines - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - wide lines - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.