Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hands-On Phonics

One of my favorite educators is Patricia Cunningham. She has written many books dealing with learning to read and write. I personally have had great success with her series of "Making Words" books. These books are multilevel, hands-on phonics and spelling activities. I have used "Making Words" and "Making More Words" in the classroom setting. When I taught in the public school system, I used them with learning disabled students. I had a district administrator observe our lesson and express great amazement as to what my students could do. With "Making Words" the students are given a set of letter cards depending on the lesson. For example, in lesson 1 of "Making More Words" the students are given the following letters a o c n r and s. The students place their letters in a row in front of them. You begin by saying "I want you to make a two letter word. Make the word "on". The children are then to say the word slowly and then pull the letters down from their choices to make "on". After they make the word, they are to check the word they made by slowly pulling their finger under the word while saying it. This trains the children to check on themselves. For example, if the child pulled down "oc" for "on". You want the child to discover this error on their own rather than being automatically being told "No that's not right". Good readers check on themselves and fix their errors. This process will train the children to be self-checkers. If they do not notice, after checking then the parent/teacher can lead them to discover their error by saying. "Say "on". What do you hear at the beginning? What do you hear at the ending? Are you right?" With some children, it is necessary to cover their error, when asking these questions and then uncovering "oc" when saying, "Are you right?" Each time they make a word they are to follow those steps - 1. Say the word 2. Make the word 3. Check the word. Have the child put the letters back with the others and then say, "Make another two letter word - make "or" ". In this lesson, they then make "as" and "an". Next, comes three letter words - "ran", "can", and "car". When going from "ran" to "can", instead of having the children push up the letters say, "Change one letter from ran to make the word can". "Change one letter on "can" and make it say "car". Following these same steps comes the four letter words - "cars", "cans", "scan", and "corn". When going from "cans" to "scan", say "Change the letters in "cans" around to make it say "scan". Five letter words in this lesson are - "acorn", "corns", and "scorn". In every lesson there is a mystery word that can be made with all the letters. I always gave my students a small treat if they could get it. The mystery word for this lesson is "acorns". There are some many phonics and spelling concepts taught through this method!!! My students LOVED "Making Words". It is hands-on phonics that is fun and game like yet teaches a wealth of concepts. Each lesson gives suggestions for ways to sort the words created. For this sample lesson the words can be sorted as follows: c sc s(plural) an orn . Last night I realized that Cunningham has come out with "Making Words" books for every grade level - K, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. I have the first three books she made - "Making Words" and "Making More Words" both of which can be used with primary grades and "Making Big Words" which is for intermediate. I highly recommend you checking them out. My boys are 3 and 4 so they are to young to begin these. When they are ready, though, I will be using these without a doubt to teach my phonics as opposed to using worksheets!


Irene Taschek said...

Wow! This approach sounds like exactly what my kinestetic DS needs! Thanks for the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

I too used this program in my K/1 public school classroom. I plan on using it with my own daughter this year and feel it gives children a very hands-on, fun way of approaching phonics!

Alison said...

This sounds like a good approach. I also love the Learning Palette from the people who make Learning Wrapups. It's self-correcting and works well for kids who like to do something manipulative.