Summer Potpourri

Summer Potpourri

Summer is the wonderful smells of flowers and herbs. This is a great time to grab abasket and collect wonderful mints, lemon and orange leaves, verbena, geranium, magnolia,jasmine, sweet pea, roses, herbsand lavender. Pick anything that smells good. This is a great olfactory experience for young children.
1.On a sunny day after the morning dew melts off,
pick flowers that are freshly bloomed. These flowers
have the most fragrant oils.Pick fragrant leaves and
herbs as well.
2. Have your child gently pull off the flower petals
and leaves from the stems. Spread out on paper towels
or in a large wicker basket. Let your child stir
gently the mixture every other day until dry.
Your child will be able to observe the gradual drying
process  In the beginning the fresh flowers and leaves
are soft and supple by the end of the drying process
the petals and leaves will be as dry as corn flakes
and will have changed colors. Note the difference with
your child.
3. Mix carefully together the dried potpourri. You can
add spices from the kitchen spice rack, such as
cinnamon, lemon pepper, cloves, allspice, rosemary,
and sage.
4. Keep the potpourri in a sealed jar. Have your child
smell the mixture at least every week and tell you if
the smell has changed. At first the potpourri will
smell fresher and will mellow over 3 to 5 weeks.
5. You can use different types of potpourri for the
smelling bottle exercise.
6. Use gauze and ribbon to make potpourri balls.


Introduction to Land and Water Forms in a Montessori classroom

Many people have questioned the education system for replacing geography and history with the more generic social studies. Geography and history are still taught but there are plenty of gaps. Here is an easy, hands-on geography lesson plan. Use this lesson plan in the general education classroom, homeschool and special needs classroom. Students of all ages enjoy this interactive geography activity.

Begin by mixing up a large batch of play dough. Make the play dough in class and use it for an interactive math measuring lesson plan. Here’s an easy play dough recipe:

1 cup hot water
1 cup white flour
1/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons alum or cream of tartar
blue or green food coloring

Mix with fork or by hand. Adjust recipe for a larger group using a 1:1 ratio for water, flour and salt, a 1:2 ratio for alum or cream of tartar and a 1: one quarter ratio for salt. Measuring and mixing this play dough in class gives students practice in ratios, fractions and measurement. When mixed, separate into two balls. Color one ball blue (or green) for water. Leave one ball plain color for land. Give each student a paper plate, a plastic knife and a zippered bag of blue play dough and another of plain play dough.

Introduce geography terms and definitions used for landforms. Demonstrate the shape of the landform using play dough or drawing the landform on the overhead projector. Use black pen for land and blue for water. Students will use their blue and white clay to create landforms based on drawings from the board or overhead projector.

Geography landforms terms and definitions;

isthmus: narrow strip of land separating two large bodies of water and connecting two larger land masses (Isthmus of Panama)

small land mass in a body of water

atoll: a circle of islands
lagoon: shallow area of water surrounding an island

archipelago: chain of islands (Hawaii)

piece of land that juts out into a body of water (Florida, Michigan)

bay: inlet of ocean near a land mass

narrow strip of water, separating two large land masses and connecting two larger bodies of water


body of water larger than a pond, but generally smaller than a sea or ocean (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)

narrow strip of water flowing in one direction from a higher elevation to a lower elevation (Missouri, Nile, Amazon, Mississippi)

delta: area at the mouth of a river where the river fans out in muddy marsh, silt or tributaries to meet a larger body of water

mountain: area of increased elevation rising to a peak

cliff: the edge of a piece of land that cuts away to land of lower elevation

a rounded area of land overlooking a lower elevation

hill: an area of elevation smaller than a mountain

steep narrow elevation, similar to a hill or mountain with a flat top

butte: an isolated rocky hill with steep, vertical sides and a flattish surface (Monument Valley, Death Valley, Grand Canyon)

waterfall: river ending with a descent over a rocky cliff

canyon: narrow corridor or pass between rocky elevations

gorge; similar to a canyon with a river at the bed (Snake River Canyon)

plateau: area of high flat elevation

tributary: narrow branches of a river

river basin:
area of land drained by a river

dune: sand hills along a lake

gulf: inlet of the ocean larger than a bay

key: islands

lake like landform formed by a river

  1. Land and Water Models

Materials:         The material consists of trays with clay models for the following: bay and  cape .island and lake, peninsula and gulf, isthmus and straight. A tray with a small bucket, jug, cloth, some blue dye, a spoon, and a sponge are also needed.

Presentation:    Have the child bring over the material and two tray models. Have the
child fill the jug 1/3 of the way full and show him how to put two drops of dye into it. Then stir with the spoon. Pour water into the first tray. Discuss how the water is all around the land. Tell the child that when water is all around a mass of land, we call it an island. Repeat in a similar way for the lake tray. Do the 1st stage of a Three Period Lesson. Pour out the water and dry with the cloth. Then have the child repeat. Do the 2nd and 3rd stage of the Three Period Lesson. The child can then work with the models as presented. And when the child has worked with one set, present him with the next set.

Purpose:To heighten the child’s awareness of land and water forms.

Age:3 1/2 (after pouring work)

How to Make Landforms From Molding Clay

Names of Geographic Things

A fun introduction to geography is learning about landforms. A land form is a unit that forms a part of the overall shape of the earth. A collection of landforms is called a landscape. A landscape is all the visible parts of an area of the earth.


  • Mountain — An area of land that’s drastically higher than the surrounding area. A mountain also has a distinct summit (top)
  • Hill — An area of land that’s somewhat higher than the surrounding land. A hill doesn’t need to have a distinct summit.
  • Plateau An area of land that is relatively flat and elevated about the surrounding land.
  • Plain A flat area of land, generally near rivers
  • Valley A low lying area of land surrounded by mountains, hills or plateaus.
  • Peninsula — An area of land surrounded on three sides by water.
  • Bay — A area of water surrounded by land on three sides by land.
  • Lake — A body of fresh water that is relatively still
  • Island — An area of land smaller than a continent that is surrounded by water on all sides
  • Isthmus — A narrow piece of land between two larger bodies of water.
  • Strait — A narrow body of water connecting two larger bodies of water.

Large landforms/landscape

  • Ocean — The salty water that covers most of the Earth’s surface
  • Land — Dry land surrounded by the oceans
  • Continents — Land is broken up into seven continents.
  • Layers of Earth — The Earth is made up of three solid layers: The core, mantel and crust. The core consists of a solid center and a liquid outer core. The mantel is mostly liquid. And the crust is the thinnest layer, we live on te surface of the crust and all the continental plates are made of crust. Above the crust is the atmosphere.

Importance of cultural exercises in early years.

The Montessori approach to education has a connectedness between all areas of the curriculum. One area ties into another while the door is opened to a different, yet related component.

-Culture determines what we know– the sum of all the angles in a triangle; what a screw driver is used for; how to use a computer to find out where Peloponnesians are.

-Culture determines what we don’t know– how to catch a fish by hand; how to build a dugout canoe and navigate the Seas without chart or compass.

-Culture determines what we want to be– lawyer; dairy farmer; computer programmer; doctor; shaman; pearl diver

It demonstrates that all people have the same fundamental needs and places an emphasis on the similarities among the human race.  Children are taught to respect people from other races, countries, and religions.  The geographical factors influence how people live as they adjust to their environment.

At this point, the teacher involves the class in a study of life and culture on earth. The curriculum then branches into different directions, such as: (a) geography,  (b) culture ( mannerism of life ) , and (c) history. Children are taught history parallel to the concept of time. Discussions and further studies include paleontology and archaeology, and still further back through time to the beginning of time, or the creation of the universe. The cycle is complete.

Also, the lessons of the universe are related to the Montessori philosophy of Cosmic Education.  It begins with the creation of the universe.  This plants another seed of knowledge.  The child begins to assemble questions of:  (a) spirituality, (b) morality, and (c) social consciousness.  The Montessori presentations begin with the introduction of the whole subject first and followed by more detailed lessons. This concept helps the child to recognize that first he/she is a citizen of the world, and then a member of a country and society.  They begin to realize that it is all connected to responsibility.

The Montessori philosophy of Cosmic Education would not be complete without the 3 year curriculum of the universe. By working with hands-on materials, and impressionistic stories of creation, the child develops a new sensitivity toward: (a) himself, (b) other people, and (c) the environment, or the Earth. The child develops a consciousness to respect and care for life and the environment, and to become a steward of the earth.

What are phonograms and how they are taught to children?



a symbol or character, as in shorthand, that represents a word, syllable, or sound.


pho·no·gram  (fn-grm)


A character or symbol, as in a phonetic alphabet, representing a word or phoneme in speech.

phono·gramic, phono·grammic adj.

phono·grami·cal·ly, phono·grammi·cal·ly adv.

phonogram [ˈfəʊnəˌgræm]


1. (Linguistics) any written symbol standing for a sound, syllable, morpheme, or word

2. (Linguistics) a sequence of written symbols having the same sound in a variety of different words, for example, ough in bought, ought, and brought

phonogramic , phonogrammic adj


How to Teach Phonograms Using the Montessori Small Movable Alphabet

Small movable alphabets are good word building practice tools.

The montessori small movable alphabet is a set of stiff, cut out letters. All of these letters go in a large, partitioned box. There are multiple cut outs of each letter so that a student can spell with this alphabet. The small movable alphabet can be used with many different lessons on reading and word building. This lesson is used to help children identify and begin to utilize phonograms in reading and spelling.

Difficulty: Easy


Things Needed:

  • Two small movable alphabets in different colors
  • Phonogram picture and word card boxes
  1. Step 1

Sit at the table with the student. You should both be on the same side of the table so that you are looking at the words that you build from the same perspective.

2. Step 2

Arrange your materials. You should have both small movable alphabets within reach. The word cards should remain in the box to the side, and the picture cards should be close at your hand. Make sure that you have some space in front of the two of you to work.

3.Step 3

Build the word indicated by a picture card together. Show the picture card to the child and then show him how to build the word. The phonogram should be in one color, while the rest of the word is in the other color. For example, if you build the word “boat,” then the letters b and t will be one color, and the o and a will be another.

4.Step 4

Check your work against the word card that is in the box. If the word is spelled correctly, then move on. As the child becomes more comfortable with identifying phonograms and spelling the words, you can let her work on her own.

5.Step 5

Keep the small movable alphabets and the appropriate word boxes and cards in an accessible location. The student should be encouraged to use the lesson whenever they wish to build words with phonograms and then check them against the word cards.

How to Montessori Small Booklets to Teach Phonograms

Montessori Small Booklets to Teach Phonograms

Montessori small booklets are half-sized pamphlets that are generally handmade by either students or a teacher. Each small booklet bears a single phonogram on the front cover and contains one word on each page that uses that phonogram. For example, if the front cover says “ck,” then the words in the book should contain the phonogram “ck.” The rest of each word should be spelled phonetically. Examples of words that are appropriate for a “ck” small booklet are lock, back, racket, lick and puck.

Difficulty: Easy


How to Use Montessori Small Booklets to Teach Phonograms

      1. Step 1

Select several small booklets. They should contain phonograms that the child has already encountered during earlier reading lessons if possible. It does not matter if the child has not been introduced directly to the phonogram, but it will help if he is familiar with at least some of the words in the booklet. If you are introducing a phonogram for the first time, you may wish to select several small booklets that are all based on the same phonogram. Most classrooms will have multiple small booklets for each phonogram.

      1. Step 2

Show the booklet to the student. Say something like, “See the letters on the front of this booklet? They make a ‘kuh’ sound. There are lots of words that use these letters to make this sound. You can find some of them in this book.” As you say this, open the book.

      1. Step 3

Read the book together. If the child is very hesitant, you may read the book to him. However, this may indicate a need to go back and practice with object boxes and word and picture cards instead of moving on to booklets that do not have pictures in them to help with reading. You will need to make this call based on your knowledge of the student. As you read each word or the student reads it to you, emphasize the sound of the phonogram. For example, if you are reading the “ck” book then make the “kuh” sound very clearly. However, be careful not to distort the word.

  1. Step 4

Encourage the student to continue reading the small booklets on her own. They should be kept in an easily accessible location where the child can reach them easily. If the student wishes, you may allow her to add more words that contain the phonogram to the back of the book or make her own word list after she reads the book to herself.

How to Teach Phonograms Using a Montessori Word List

Word lists help children associate words with the same anomalies with each other, thereby making reading phonograms easier.

Phonograms are combinations of letters that create unique sounds that may not sound exactly like the phonetic expressions of these letter combinations. For example, the “ew” in few does not sounds like “Eh, Wuh,” as a phonetic reading would lead one to believe. Instead, it sounds more like a long “u” sound. Once a child understands phonetic reading, he needs to be introduced to phonograms so that his reading vocabulary will not be hampered by his inability to pronounce words correctly. One way to introduce and practice common phonograms is the use of Montessori word lists.

Difficulty: Easy


Things Needed:

  • Word list packets for common phonogram groups. For example, ew, ue and words that have u in the middle and end in e all have an “oo” sound.
  1. Step 1

Have the child sit with you at a table. You should not do this lesson in a group, so you should be sitting on the same side of the table with the child and the two of you should be focused on the lesson at hand.

  1. Step 2

Show the child the cover of the word list packet. You can introduce it by saying that the same sound can be made in many different ways. For example, you might introduce the phonogram “ee” by saying, “We can make the ‘ee’ sound in lots of different ways.”

  1. Step 3

Read through the first list. You should introduce the phonograms one at a time, so only deal with the phonogram on the first list for now. If it is “ea” making an “ee” sound, then you may have words like mean, bean and lean. Tell the child, “We can make an ‘ee’ sound using ‘ea,’ just like in these words.” Have the child read through the list with the knowledge that even though the words may not phonetically look like they should have an “ee” sound, that they do. This will make the reading easier than you may expect. If you experience difficulty, you can read through the list with the child before having them read the list alone. However, consult your child’s instructor before doing this as some teachers prefer that you not assist in this manner.

  1. Step 4

Work through the other lists. In the “ee” group you will also have an “ee” list and possibly an “ie” list, depending on your school’s curriculum. With each list, repeat the same thing that you did with the first list, saying “We can make an ‘ee’ sound using ‘ie’ (for example).” Read through the list together with the child reading the words to you so that you can watch for mispronunciations.

  1. Step 5

Keep the word list packets in an accessible place. The child should be encouraged to use them on her own whenever she wishes by reading through the lists quietly and then replacing them.

How to Teach Phonograms Using Montessori Word List Packets

Word list packets contain groups of words that sound the same but, due to phonogram spellings, may appear vastly different from each other.

Montessori word list packets are lists of words–usually six to eight words make up a list–that have some type of phonogram in common. As a result, these packets contain lists of words that all sound the same but that may have very different spellings. These lists are a great way to help young readers associate words with difficult or unusual spellings with each other in order to make reading easier. Word list packets are good not only for helping students expand their reading abilities, but also for aiding them in expanding their vocabularies as they learn how to pronounce new and potentially unfamiliar sounds.

Difficulty: Easy


Things Needed:

  • Montessori word list packets
  1. Step 1

Introduce the phonograms individually to the student. While you may have a complete set of word list packets for many phonograms, start out slow and work steadily. You should introduce each group of phonograms by saying “We can make the oo sound (for example) in lots of different ways. Here are several ways to make the oo sound.” Then show them the packet, which will have all of the ways to make the phonogram–oo in this example–on the cover. This way, the student can see the options for making the phonogram’s sound before he encounters them in words.

  1. Step 2

Read through related word lists. Word packets will have the words divided up into different phonograms that all make the same sound. For example, a word list packet for “oo” will have words like food and mood (oo) on one list, few and mew (ew) on another, and dune and rule (u-e) on another.

  1. Step 3

Review all the lists in a packet together. Once you have read through the lists individually while discussing the individual phonograms, have the student read all the words on the list. Some instructors like to stay and have the students read the words to them, while others prefer to let the students read on their own.

    1. Step 4

Move on to other phonogram word list packets. If the student is enjoying and engaged in the lesson, you can move on to other phonogram word list packets. As the child becomes more familiar with more and more packets, she will be able to practice them on her own.

5.  Step 5

Keep all phonogram word lists in an accessible location. The student should be encouraged to read through the word list packets on his own whenever he likes. This will help him practice reading and also familiarize him with phonograms as he works


How to Use Montessori Small Story Books to Teach Phonograms

Reading these small story books gives children a feeling of accomplishment because they are reading books on their own while helping them become more familiar with common word constructions.

Small story books are booklets designed to help students practice reading while becoming more familiar with common phonograms. You can purchase these books from school supplies stores or make your own. They generally contain a series of pictures with a simple sentence accompanying the picture that makes use of a word containing the phonogram that the book is focused on. For example, if the cover of the book says “ee,” then the sentences inside will all utilize words that contain the phonogram “ee,” such as “Bob feeds the kids.”

Difficulty: Easy


      1. Step 1

Present the book to the child. Discuss the phonogram on the front of the book by asking them to identify it by reading it aloud to show the sound it makes.

      1. Step 2

Read the book together. As you go, the child may comment on the fact that the phonogram appears on every page or that it always makes the same sound even when it is in different words.However, you do not need to formally point it out if the student does not comment, as they will develop familiarity with the words and phonograms through repeated reading.

      1. Step 3

Work your way through several small books with different phonograms. You can present several in one lesson as long as the child appears comfortable and interested in the reading. However, if his attention starts to wander, you should stop adding material.

      1. Step 4

Encourage the student to read the books on her own. This can be done during reading time or as a regular lesson. Different Montessori classrooms divide up their days in different ways, so this will depend on your preference and how your school prefers to instruct. The books should be located in an easily accessible location, and the child should read the booklets that match the phonograms she has already learned.

The goals to be kept in mind while beginning phonics


Phonics refers to a system of reading instruction that teaches children the relationship between letters and the sounds they represent. When students “sound out” a word, they are drawing upon knowledge of phonics to figure out the pronunciation of that word. Mastery of phonics enables children to learn to read with greater confidence and ease.

Phonics curriculum developed by embed explicit and systematic phonics instruction in an engaging story. Instruction and materials follow a logical progression, from isolated letters to letters in words to words in connected text, or sentences. The curriculum is guided by three goals:

  • Phonics instruction is designed to supplement and reinforce what children are learning in school. This is an important function, as most children require a great deal of repetition and practice to internalize their knowledge of phonics patterns.
  • Phonics instruction teaches what is useful, but does not over teach. The English language is rich and complex, with an enormous range of phonics patterns. The workbooks teach only phonics elements that are useful to a beginning reader, those with the highest degree of frequency and regularity.
  • Phonics instruction is part of an integrated reading program. Students learning phonics need a lot of practice reading decodable text. This refers to text in which children can use their knowledge of phonics to read a significant majority of the words they encounter.

Preschool and Kindergarten:

While formal reading instruction does not begin until a child enters school, children learn a tremendous amount about reading earlier. For children in preschool or kindergarten, phonics curriculum developed by the Institute lays a solid foundation in three critical areas: phonemic awareness, letter recognition, and beginning phonics.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds, or phonemes, in the spoken language. For example, the word bat consists of three phonemes: /b/, /a/, /t/.

Research has shown that phonemic awareness is the strongest predictor of success in learning to read. Children who enter kindergarten with a high level of phonemic awareness generally have an easier time learning to read and learn more quickly. Phonemic awareness curriculum developed by the Institute focuses on initial sounds and rhymes.

Letter Recognition

Letter recognition is the ability to visually recognize and name the letters of the alphabet. Like phonemic awareness, letter recognition is a strong predictor of early reading success. When children are able to recognize letters instantly and automatically, it frees them up to focus their full attention on letter sounds, without struggling to distinguish between letters. Phonics curriculum developed by the Institute teaches letter recognition systematically, beginning with high-frequency consonants.


The beginning phonics curriculum developed for preschool and pre-kindergarten students teaches the relationship between an individual letter and the sound it stands for. For example, the letter m stands for the sound /m/ heard at the beginning of the word mouse. Phonics materials and instruction present letters in a sequence based on sound principles of instruction (for example, m and n are separated, as they sound too similar; high frequency letters are taught before less common letters such as j, v, z, etc.).

The emphasis for preschool and kindergarten students is on exposure, not mastery. Requiring mastery of any reading skill at this age places undue pressure on a child, and can undermine the whole enterprise by creating a negative attitude about reading. The Institute’s phonics materials are engaging and are designed so that children work at their own pace.

First Grade:

Intensive phonics instruction generally begins in first grade, building on the beginning phonics instruction in isolated letters and letter sounds children receive in kindergarten. The Institute’s phonics curriculum for entering first graders reinforces children’s knowledge of letters and sounds, and teaches students how to blend sounds into words. Instruction progresses systematically, beginning with initial and final consonants and short vowels and moving on to long vowels, consonant blends and digraphs, and easy inflectional endings (-ed and –ing). The curriculum also teaches a number of high-frequency sight words.

Second Grade:

In second grade, students face more challenging reading, with longer sentences, fewer pictures, and smaller print. They also encounter longer, more complex words in the books they read. Institute curriculum helps students meet these challenges and move toward fluency with instruction in advanced phonics and other word-attack skills and strategies.

Advanced Phonics Skills

Instruction focuses on vowel teams, r-controlled vowels and silent letters, as well as other more complex phonics patterns. Students apply skills in connected text throughout the workbook, including an ongoing comic strip that parallels the story on the accompanying instructional CD.

Word-Attack Skills

Word-attack instruction teaches students to divide long words into smaller word parts. Students learn common prefixes and suffixes as well as compound words and contractions. They also learn a simple decoding strategy that integrates phonics and word-attack skills.

All good fun!


Basic Code 50m












































Phonics Basic and Advanced Code































































































































































































































Segmenting and Blending

Segmenting and Blending:

Children who can segment and blend sounds easily are able to use this knowledge when reading and spelling. Segmenting and blending individual sounds can be difficult at the beginning. Our recommendation is to begin with segmenting and blending syllables. Once familiar with that, students will be prepared for instruction and practice with individual sounds.

When beginning readers sound out words, they slowly say each sound in a word (c-a-t), and then say the sounds quickly together to “read” the word (cat). In reading, teachers call this blending because sounds are being blended together. Blending (combining sounds) and segmenting (separating sounds) are skills that are necessary for learning to read.

Developing a child’s phonological awareness is an important part of developing a reader. Many research studies indicate that kids who have weak phonological awareness also have weak reading skills.

The teaching of segmenting and blending should progress, starting at the sentence level, moving to syllable, and finally to individual phonemes. Be sure to provide lots of practice at the easier level before moving on.


Guess-the-word game

This activity is an example of how to teach students to blend and identify a word that is stretched out into its basic sound elements.

Objective: Students will be able to blend and identify a word that is stretched out into its component sounds.

Materials needed: Picture cards of objects that students are likely to recognize such as: sun, bell, fan, flag, snake, tree, book, cup, clock, plane

Activity: Place a small number of picture cards in front of children. Tell them you are going to say a word using “Snail Talk” a slow way of saying words (e.g., /fffffllllaaaag/). They have to look at the pictures and guess the word you are saying. It is important to have the children guess the answer in their head so that everyone gets an opportunity to try it. Alternate between having one child identify the word and having all children say the word aloud in chorus to keep children engaged.

Blending slide

Teachers can use a picture or small replica of a playground slide and have the sounds “slide” together to form a word.

Oral blending activity

The information here describes the importance of teaching blending skills to young children. This provides suggestions for oral sound blending activities to help students practice and develop smooth blending skills.

Sound blending using songs

This describes how songs can also be used for blending activities. The following activity is to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.”

If you think you know this word, shout it out!
If you think you know this word, shout it out!
If you think you know this word,
Then tell me what you’ve heard,
If you think you know this word, shout it out!

After singing, the teacher says a segmented word such as /k/ /a/ /t/ and students provide the blended word “cat.”


This activity  is an example of how to teach students to segment, first with sentences, then words, and finally sounds.

  1. Early in phonological awareness instruction, teach children to segment sentences into individual words. Identify familiar short poems such as “I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream!” Have children clap their hands with each word.
  2. As children advance in their ability to manipulate oral language, teach them to segment words into syllables or onsets and rhymes. For example, have children segment their names into syllables: e.g., Ra-chel, Al-ex-an-der, and Rod-ney.
  3. When children have learned to remove the first phoneme (sound) of a word, teach them to segment short words into individual phonemes: e.g., s-u-n, p-a-t, s-t-o-p.

Segmenting cheer activity

This provides teachers with information on how to conduct the following segmentation cheer activity.
Write the “Segmentation Cheer” on chart paper, and teach it to children. Each time you say the cheer, change the words in the third line. Have children segment the word sound by sound. Begin with words that have three phonemes, such as ten, rat, cat, dog, soap, read, and fish.

Segmentation Cheer

Listen to my cheer.
Then shout the sounds you hear.
Sun! Sun! Sun!
Let’s take apart the word sun.
Give me the beginning sound. (Children respond with /s/.)
Give me the middle sound. (Children respond with /u/.)
Give me the ending sound. (Children respond with /n/.)
That’s right!
/s/ /u/ /n/-Sun! Sun! Sun!

Segmenting with puppets

Teachers can use the activity to help teach students about segmenting sounds. The activity includes the use of a puppet and picture cards.

Penny push

Penny push is an activity which can be used without the use of letters/words. Students can push a penny for each sound they hear in isolation.

Alphabetic Code

The Alphabetic Code

The simple Code and the advanced Code; and the six syllable types to assist in improving reading, spelling, and writing are discussed below :

Too often schools, if they teach any Code at all, teach only an incidental version of the simple Code. But to be a skilled speller, writer, and reader, one needs to methodically learn the entire Code and the rules for its usage. We use the letters of the alphabet, often alone; often in two’s: in some instances in groups of three or four, to represent the speech sounds. These pieces of the Code are called phonograms – a word containing the Greek roots for ‘sound’ and ‘written down’. So…we use phonograms to record sound…i.e. to spell. When a phonogram represents two or more sounds, the sounds are in the descending order of frequency in the English language.



Forget the old lessons that taught, “The vowels are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y and w.” I teach my students that y is frequently a vowel. We list the vowels as: a, e, i/y, o, u. Here are the vowels and representative words to aid pronunciation.

Vowels – descending order of frequency

a at na vy want —–
e end me —– —–
i in si lent po lice on ion
y gym my ba by yo yo (as a consonant)
o hot o pen do —–
u up mu sic put —–


b represents /b/ – Do not say ba, or bu. Just say a pure /b/ voiced in your throat. We say that this sound is “voiced.”

c represents /k/ or /s/ – That is the order of frequency in the English language. Recall: c followed by e, i, or y says /s/; by any other letter it says /k/. These are voiceless sounds; do not say ka.

d represents /d/ – Voiced without a vowel attached to it. Say /d/.

f represents /f/ – Unvoiced without a vowel attached to it. /f/

g represents /g/ or /j/ – That is the order of frequency in the English language. Recall: g followed by e i, or y, may say /j/ but not always. A g followed by any other letter says /g/.

h represents /h/ – Unvoiced.

j represents /j/ – Voiced.

k represents /k/ – Unvoiced.

l represents /l/ – Voiced, ‘liquid.’

m represents /m/ – Voiced, nasal.

n represents /n/ – Voiced, nasal.

p represents /p/ – Unvoiced. Don’t say “pa”. Say the puff-like /p/.

qu represents /kw/ and infrequently says /k/ (mosquito). Unvoiced.

r represents /r/ – Voiced. Don’t pronounce with a vowel like “ru.”

s represents /s/ or /z/ – The /s/ is Voiceless; the /z/ is Voiced.

t represents /t/ – Voiceless. Not ‘ta’ – just /t/.

v represents /v/ – Voiced.

w represents /w/ – Voiced. Be careful not to attach a vowel.

x represents /ks/ – Voiceless. Never, never write an s after an x.

y represents /y/, /i/, /long i/, /ee/ – See vowel chart.

z represents /z/ – Voiced

ADVANCED CODE -with rules for usage:

er represents /er/as in Her – 2,063 words (of 20,000 most commonly used)

ur represents /er/ as in nurse – 247 words (out of 20,000)

ir represents /er/ as in first – 114 words (out of 20,000)

wor represents /wer/ as in works – 51 words (out of 20,000)

ear represents /er/ as in early. – 31words (out of 20,000)

sh represents /sh/ – Unvoiced

ee represents /ee/ – “The ‘two-letter e’.” (seem, reel)

th represents /th/, /th/ – With the first one being voiceless (thin) and the second being voiced (then)

ay represents /long a/ – “Two-letter a that may be used at the end of a word.” (day, way, say)

ai represents /long a/ – “Two-letter a that may never be used at the end of a word.” (air, fair)

ow represents /ow/, /oh/ – (cow, low)

ou represents /ow/, /oh/, /oo/, /schwa/ – I teach this by drawing stair steps with a person falling down as they say, “Ow! Oh! OO! u.” (found, four, you, country) My students named the last sound the “Country 4” since it is the sound we hear in the word, country, and the 4th sound of ou.

oy represents /oy/ – May be used at the end of a word. (boy, toy)

oi represents /oy/ – May never be used at the end of a word. (boil)

aw represents /aw/ – May be used at the end of a word. (law)

au represents /aw/ – May never be used at the end of a word. (autumn)

ew represents /oo/ (grew) and /u/ (new) – May be used at the end of a word.

ui represents /oo/ (fruit) and /long u/ (suit) – May never be used at the end of a word.

oo represents /oo/ (boot), /short oo/ (book), /long o/ (floor).

ch represents /ch/, /k/, /sh/ – /ch/ comes from English (church); /k/ comes from the Greek (chorus); /sh/ comes from the French (chivalry).

ng represents /ng/ – Nasal (sing, sang, sung).

ea represents /ee/ (eat), /e/ (bread), /long a/ (break).

ar represents /ar/ – (car, mar, far).

ck represents /k/ – “Two-letter /k/ that can only be used after a short vowel (Rule 25).”

ed represents /ed/, /d/, /t/ – See rule 28. (wanted, loved, wrecked).

or represents /or/ – (for, or, fore).

wh represents /hw/ – Voiceless. Blow softly in palm of hand; air should be felt when saying wh. The difference between /w/ and /hw/ should be taught and practiced or we will lose this sound. Already, Americans are saying “Wen will you arrive? Ware will you spend the night? Wy don’t you stay here?”

oa represents /long o/ – “O as in boat”.

ey represents /long a/, /ee/, /i/ – (they, key, valley – in the Midwest we say “vallee.”).

ei represents /ee/, /long a/, /i/ – (con ceit, veil, for feit).

ie represents /ee/, /long i/, /i/ – (field, pie, lilies).

igh represents /long i/ – “Three-letter I”.

eigh represents /long a/ – “Four-letter A”.

kn represents /n/ – “Two-letter N that we can only use to begin words.”

gn represents /n/ – “Two-letter N that we can use to begin or end base words.”

wr represents /r/ – “Two-letter R that we can only use to begin words” Note: Most words will in some way refer to the concept of “twisting.”

ph represents /f/ – “Two-letter F” from the Greeks. (telephone, physician, phonogram, philosophy).

dge represents /j/ ­ “Three-letter J.” May only be used after a single vowel that says its short sound. (Rule 23)

oe represents /o/ – “O as in toe.”

gh represents /g/ – “Two-letter g.” Used at the beginning of a word.

ti represents /sh/ – “The /sh/ that begins with a tall letter.” Used to say /sh/ at the beginning of a second or subsequent syllable. (Rule 11)

si represents /sh/, /zh/ – (ses sion, vi sion).

ci represents /sh/ – “The /sh/ that begins with a short letter.” (fa cial)

ough represents: /o/ though; /oo/ through; uf rough; off cough; aw thought; ow bough (Deck the Halls with…)


tch represents /tch/ – (catch, butch er, kitch en)

eo represents /eo/ – (peo ple)

eau represents eau in beau ty

gu represents /g/, /gw/ – (guest, lan guage)

augh represents /aw/, /af/ – (daugh ter, laugh ter)

gi represents /j/ – (re gion)

our represents /er/ – (jour ney)

di represents /j/ – (sol dier)

xi represents /ksh/ – (an xious)

cu represents /k/ – (bis cuits)

aigh represents /long a/ – (straight)

sc represents /s/, /sk/ – (scene, sceptic)

ge represents /j/ – (pi geons)

ah represents /ah/ – (hal le lu jahs)


OPEN SYLLABLES: If a short syllable ends with a vowel, the vowel will probably say its name, although i’s and y’s are not as dependable as a, e, o, u. (Consider: our mouths are open when we say vowels; we sing the vowels, not the consonants.)

si lent, o pen, my, ba con, va ca tion, he, re port

CLOSED SYLLABLES: If a syllable ends with a consonant – so mouth has to close or change shape in order to restrict air flow in some way – the vowel in that syllable will usually say its short sound.

bat, fin, con cen trate, un der stand, Lat in

E-CONTROLLED SYLLABLES: These are the Silent E type #1. The silent E forces the vowel two sounds back to say its name.

cake, time, con cen trate, e val u ate, cute, choke

R-CONTROLLED SYLLABLES: In these syllables, a /r/ modifies the sound that we would expect a vowel to represent.

Her nurse first works early. Also: mar, for, jour ney

CONSONANT-LE SYLLABLES: These are the Silent E type #4. The silent final e is necessary so that we have a vowel in each syllable.

lit tle, bot tle, ket tle, han dle

VOWEL PAIR SYLLABLES: In these syllables, it takes more than one letter to represent a vowel sound.

pain, suit, grew, joy, boil, prey, coun try

Use these syllables to check your spelling; to see if what you have spelled fits these forms. Use them to aide you in mentally dividing words for correct pronunciation and thus accurate reading. When you better understand how the language is represented in print, ease and speed of usage will improve. I often help students sound out words by simply saying something like: “Open Closed Closed E-Controlled.” The mind will then look for those types of syllables and pronounce the word with accuracy and increasing automaticity.

English is written in a Code. Remember that! Think in terms of how to read a code; how to write in a code. Soon you will find yourself becoming stronger and more confident in the use of this wonderfully rich language.

The Code – phonics – is the only way to become an excellent user of the language, because we have an alphabetic language that is represented by phonograms designated to represent specific sounds. Good readers who think that they do not need phonics are only fooling themselves. They simply saw the Code, learned it, and use it subconsciously. Even very good readers look at each word long enough to decode and recognize it, then their eyes leap to the next word. Decoding need not be painful and should not be slow. The more that readers understand the Code, the more automaticity they will develop.

One cannot read music unless they learn the code in which music is represented. One cannot dance a complex piece of choreography unless they learn the code in which dance movements are represented. There are many examples of codes that users must learn, but the Code for English is the one that represents speech in print…and without it, spelling, and therefore reading, remain at middle elementary levels.