Category Archives: phonics games

Introducing Clever Caitlin’s phonics playing cards

This year I have some excellent new colleagues, and one of them, Caitlin Stephenson, is queen of making therapy fun for kids.

She grew up playing cards with abundant siblings, and came up with the idea of phonics playing cards.

For an affordable, fun, social, portable phonics activity that can be tailored to a range of ages and abilities, they’re hard to beat.

Caitlin and I have so far collaborated to create over 50 decks of downloadable phonics playing cards, and so far I’ve put 30 of them in the Spelfabet shop. Continue reading

New word-building card games

I’ve been faffing around for ages trying to improve on my old word-building card games, and finally have a new set of three decks of download-and-print cards I’m happy with.

These games are intended to provide practice blending and manipulating sounds in one-syllable words, and learning their spellings.

The basic games are lot simpler, and young children can play them more successfully, as the less-common spellings are now in the harder games. The colour scheme has been revised thanks to feedback from people with red-green colour-blindness (oops, sorry).

The basic “short” vowels game can be used by six-year-olds who know the alphabet and a few consonant digraphs. Two players or teams each build five words using the five vowel cards, then change each other’s words into new words. Here’s how to play it:

Continue reading

New Spelfabet workbooks and other resources, 30% off till June 30 2017

I’ve finally put all my Version 2 workbooks, games and two moveable alphabets into my shop, and made videos about all of them so you can see what they’re like before deciding whether they would be useful to you.

Everything is now available at 30% discount till 30 June 2017. Just enter this coupon code when you get to the shop checkout:

EOFY2017

The main differences between the new and previous versions are:

Workbook overhaul

There are now nine workbooks, since I’ve combined the old workbooks 2 and 3 into a single workbook 2, and added a workbook 3 which provides a gentle introduction to vowel spellings and syllable types before diving into their full complexity in Workbooks 4 and 5. I’ve added more words with more than one syllable to Workbooks 4 and 5, and Workbook 6 covers additional consonant spellings much more extensively than the old version, and takes out the overlaps section, which is more about reading than spelling.

Workbook 7 covers homophones and prefixes, Workbook 8 covers suffixes including stuff like changing y to i and Latin suffixes, and workbook 9 deals with additional Latin and Greek word parts. So there is much more about long words and morphology in this version. There are video tours of all the new workbooks here. You can download the first few pages of each one to check out the table of contents and instructions, and try out some pages with your learner(s) here. Continue reading

Helping teenagers with literacy

The other day our state Education Minister announced $72.3 million extra dollars will be spent over four years helping struggling secondary students, specifically kids who haven’t met Year 5 NAPLAN benchmarks.

Woo hoo to that, I say. But if it’s spent on doing the same sorts of things that didn’t work in primary school, it will be a waste.

Secondary school students with poor decoding skills and very little ability to spell generally need a good initial blast of synthetic phonics to build their awareness of sounds in words and knowledge of spelling patterns, followed up by work on vocabulary, comprehension and fluency. I’ve been doing this type of work for 14 years, in conjunction with the world’s most fabulous integration teacher and aides. We’re yet to find someone we can’t teach to read, including students with intellectual disability, language disorder and English as a second or third language.

Here’s roughly what I’d do and buy if I were a decision-maker in a secondary school with a number of students who have encoding/decoding difficulties.

Continue reading

C that sounds like “s”

The letter C can represent the sound "k" as in "cut" or the sound "s" as in "cent".

Teaching learners how this works and why it's a good thing when we start adding suffixes to words can be tricky, especially if they don't really understand "if-then" sentences yet.

Here's a 6 minute video I made about one way to do it.

 

Note that the spelling CC is sometimes followed by a letter E but the sound is still "k", e.g. soccer, sicced (as in "I sicced the dog onto the burglar and she ran off"). CC is like other doubled letters, its main purpose is to tell you to say a "short" vowel before it, as in raccoon, Mecca, piccolo, broccoli and buccaneer. Typically, but not always, we write CK instead of CC.

The spelling C+C might also represent a "k" sound at the end of one syllable followed by a "s" at the start of the next syllable, as in "accede", "accent", "accept", "access" and "coccyx". 

Also, either a single or double C might represent a "ch" sound in some Italian-origin words e.g. cello, Botticelli, bocce (click here for more).

 


 

Printable wordbuilding card games

Please note that as of July 2019, the games in this post have been superseded by the ones you can find in this blog post.

It’s been pouring for most of today here in Melbourne, so I’ve been feeling sorry for everyone stuck indoors during the summer holidays. On the plus side, this has motivated me to finally stop obsessively polishing my four new word-building card games, and make them available here.

These games are designed to help learners practice their blending and phoneme manipulation skills, and to learn how to use and combine a variety of graphemes (spelling patterns) representing individual phonemes (speech sounds) in English.

You can find fairly detailed descriptions of each game in each one’s entry in my website shop, so I’ll just put little videos about each one plus a summary in this blog post.

“Short” vowel wordbuilding game

Here learners build words using single-letter vowel spellings, and consonant spellings including “ck”, “ng”, “ff”, “ll”, “ss”, “zz”, “x”, “tch” and “dge”, “sh”, “ch” and “th”. This game also provides lots of opportunities to learn which consonant combinations (blends) are typical of English, such as “fl” and “str” but not “vm” at word beginnings, and “nch” and “mp” but not “jn” at word endings. Continue reading

Make them laugh and let them win

Parents often report difficulty getting their children to work on their reading and spelling at home. Sometimes it’s hard even to get them to play games.

Children with reading and spelling difficulties tend to associate these activities with failure and unhappiness, so of course at first they aren’t too keen on them.

We need them to associate reading and spelling with success and happiness, so they’ll work willingly and get through the amount of work they need to do to catch up. It’s vital to choose work that’s at the right level and give them lots of strong and specific praise.

Games are a great opportunity to really heap on the success and happiness. Here’s a short video of me teaching the great little boy who appeared in my last two videos how to pay memory, using cards from the Get Reading Right Picture This card game.

He didn’t read a lot of words during this game, but he had a great time, and learnt how to play the game. The next steps would be to speed up the game and add more cards so he is reading more, and then introduce different cards with additional sounds and letters, and/or longer words. There are six decks of cards in this card game, so it gives lots of opportunities for controlled reading practice.

As always, thanks so much to the boy in the video and his parents for letting me make and share this video.

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