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Part 2 – Decodable readers and tricky words

The decodable book ‘Hetty the Hen’ is covered. Guidance is provided for reading words that use the other five alternative spellings, which are split digraphs. More decodable readers are now available.

 

Part 2: Decodable readers and tricky words

 

When the children can read words that have ‹y› with an /ee/ sound, they are ready for reading the next level of decodable reading books, such as the Yellow Level of Jolly Phonics Readers. Each level of these particular readers has three sets: stories about Inky Mouse and her friends, general fiction, and non-fiction books, which are all decodable. One book is about a hen called Hetty; the ‹y› in Hetty has the /ee/ sound so the children can work the word out by blending the sounds. As in the first level, you can see what the children need to know before asking them to read books in the Yellow Level: the 42 letter sounds and how to blend them in words, the ‹y› with an /ee/ sound, the name of a new character, Phonic the computer, and more tricky words. There are more words on each page now, all of which can be successfully read.

 

By reading this book you can see that, even with restricted decodable vocabulary, the children can be given a good story. It is quite remarkable that with the knowledge of only 43 letter sounds and 12 tricky words the children can confidently read these interesting books. Like the Red Level, at the back there are some ideas for encouraging discussion about the story, with a few comprehension questions and some more thought-provoking questions [story and some comprehension questions read].

 

After ‹y› with an /ee/ sound, the next five alternative spellings have the same sounds as the long vowels, namely /ai, ee, ie, oa, ue/. In the original spellings for these sounds, two letters are needed to make the long vowels and the letters appear next to each other. There is a well-known saying about the vowels: When two vowels go walking, the first does the talking. In the original spellings, there are two vowels and the sound is linked to the first one, but the second vowel influences the first one: if the second vowel were not there the first vowel would usually make its short sound; when it is there it changes the short vowel to the long vowel [demonstration].

 

Similarly, two letters are needed to make the long vowel sounds in the hop- over-‹e› digraphs in Step 4; however, these letters are not next to each other, as can be seen in cake, theme, life, hope, and tube. There is another letter, a consonant, in between the two vowels. Even so, the second vowel influences the first one and changes the sound from a short vowel to a long one. That is why some people refer to words with these split digraphs as magic ‹e› words, where the magic in the ‹e› changes words like hat, hop, win and cub into hate, hope, wine and cube [demonstration].

 

The children need to understand that these words can be blended in exactly the same way as other regular words. The only thing they need to be aware of is something that often happens in phonics: in the word event, for example, the magic comes out of the second vowel and changes the first vowel to an /ee/. But it also says its own sound, /e/, so that the word reads /ee-vent/. The children just need to have plenty of practice at reading words like these, with hop-over-‹e› digraphs.

 

There are 20 new tricky words in Step 4 for the children to learn to read and write:

 

go               no                so              my              one

by              only            old             like              have

live             give           little           down           what

when          why           where          who            which

 

They do this in the same way as the tricky words in Step 3, trying to blend the words and then looking for the awkward bit [demonstration]. This helps with the reading and spelling; by analysing the words in this way and then regularly reading them from flash cards or from the board, the children become very familiar with the words and then they can easily read them.

 

Learning to spell the words is important, too. There are Tricky Word Spelling Sheets for Steps 3 to 6, which can be downloaded in the usual way, either by scrolling down to the bottom of the screen in the relevant Step, or by going to the Resources section on the home page. The children learn the spellings by writing each word several times and, as they do it, they test themselves as well. Dictating a few tricky words at a time is a good way of checking how well the children are learning to spell them.

 

When the 20 tricky words and first six alternative spellings have been taught, the children are ready to read the Green Level of Jolly Phonics Readers. As in earlier levels, the first page tells us what the children need to know to make it a decodable story: the 42 letter sounds, ‹y› with an /ee/ sound, the hop-over-‹e› digraphs saying the long vowels /a_e, e_e, i_e, o_a, u_e/, and the 20 new tricky words. With this knowledge, more words are available for reading and the stories can be even more interesting. Also, there are many more words on each page. This can be seen in The Bad-Tempered Goat, set on the farm with Farmer Green, the cats Molly and Tolly, the sheepdogs Ben and Neb, and a bad-tempered goat. One day the farmer gives the goat some oats. A cheeky robin flies down and pinches some of them. This makes the goat angry. Then the robin flies down and sits on one of the goat’s horns. This makes him even angrier; he runs up and down stamping his hooves. The goat thinks he has got rid of the robin, but she starts taunting him from the oak tree. That is too much; the goat butts the tree trunk so hard that it falls down on him. The farmer tries to rescue him but the tree is too heavy, so he has to get his tractor. Finally, the goat is freed but he does not get up, so the farmer calls for the vet. The vet says that the goat is a bit stunned but will be all right and maybe this will stop him being so bad-tempered. The goat snorts as grumpily as ever, and then the vet says, “perhaps not” and they both have a laugh about it. It is a very good story… and once again there are some comprehension questions at the back.

A certain amount of maturity and fluency is needed for these books. If a child is not ready for this level, use other supplementary decodable books; we are lucky to have a variety of excellent decodable readers by different publishers to choose from [books displayed]. It is important to match children to decodable books that are appropriate for the stage they are at, and that are relatively easy for the children to read and understand. As mentioned before, information on these decodable books can be found on the home page in the section Phonic knowledge, under the heading Decodable readers.

  • Step 4 - 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 4 - Word bank - printed 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 4 - Sentences

    These sentences only use the letter sounds taught in Steps 1- 4 and the tricky words 1 - 40. At this stage they are particularly useful for the children who need extra practice reading sentences that use the letter sounds and tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Sentences - print letters

    These sentences only use the letter sounds taught in Steps 1- 4 and the tricky words 1 - 40. At this stage they are particularly useful for the children who need extra practice reading sentences that use the letter sounds and tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - b&w

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - colour

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - b&w - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - color - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4- Tricky Words - writing - b&w

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - colour

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - b&w - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - color - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Letter Sounds

    The letter sounds taught in Step 4 are provided. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters.

  • Step 4 - Letter Sounds - print letters

    The letter sounds taught in Step 4 are provided. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters.

  • Step 4 - 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 4 - Word bank - printed 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 4 - Sentences

    These sentences only use the letter sounds taught in Steps 1- 4 and the tricky words 1 - 40. At this stage they are particularly useful for the children who need extra practice reading sentences that use the letter sounds and tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Sentences - print letters

    These sentences only use the letter sounds taught in Steps 1- 4 and the tricky words 1 - 40. At this stage they are particularly useful for the children who need extra practice reading sentences that use the letter sounds and tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - b&w

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - colour

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - b&w - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - reading - color - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 4- Tricky Words - writing - b&w

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - colour

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - b&w - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Tricky Words - writing - color - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 4 - Dictation Sentences

    These sentences have been carefully selected for dictation. They use the tricky words 1 - 40 and the first 42 letter sounds. They provide writing practice, as well as providing spelling practice of the tricky words taught in Step 4.

  • Step 4 - Dictation Words

    These words have been carefully selected and use the alternative spellings taught in Step 4.