Phonics seems to be the very "in" thing among parents these days. Many parents have sent their children for enrichment classes such as "I CAN READ" so that their children can read at a young age.
Being a kiasu mum, I want to introduce Le Xin to Phonics too, but we have Phonics classes at the comfort of our home and the Phonics teacher is non other than MummyT2X.
Here's a short sharing on what I did with Le Xin and you can try whatever methods I have used. It's really very simple but you need to very consistent.
I started off with introducing small letters to Le Xin back in January this year that was like when she was about 2 years 4 months old.
I made letter cards to play with her.
I used Microsoft Words to insert 2X3 boxes and typed in the letters in bold - Century Gothic font size - 72 then I cut the boxes and laminated them.
What happen if you do not have a laminating machine (just like me)...
Simple, just buy laminating pouches and use an iron! Remember you need to put a pillow case on top of the laminating pouch before you iron on :)
I know parents loves flashing flashcards to their children and would ensure that they remember the names of the letters as well as the letter sounds . Seriously, I don't bother about these stuffs because I just want to have pure fun with Le Xin, I believe she will eventually learn when she develops the interest and I also hope she will look forward to the Phonics sessions with me.
I did several things with Le Xin using those letter cards.
The first activity was putting the letter cards in a soft little bag, Le Xin will use one of her hands to pick out a letter from the bag without looking at it and when she flipped the card she would say the name of the letter. When I said Le Xin please don't peep....she would giggle and gently flipped her card to see the letter before saying the name. Sometimes she will deliberately peep (so cute) and observe my funny respond. I played with her a few times each week, at some point I will be the one picking out a letter card to say the letter name. I try my best to make her feel that I am an interested party who learn with her and she appears to enjoy role playing as the teacher where MummyT2X is her student :)
Sometimes, I also put the letters cards on the floor and turn on the CD player to play games with her. When the music stops, she will pick up a card and shout out the name of the letter and after playing with her for a few times I twig it a little by duplicating the cards and getting her to pick up two identical letters. She get to identify the letters and learn how to match at the same time. It's really killing two birds with one stone, most importantly she enjoys the learning process.
Apart from those letter cards, I also printed out a - z on an A4 size paper, have it laminated and displayed it on the wall near to where she is sleeping so that she could go and point to the letters when I play bedtime games with her.
This was how I first introduced small letters to Le Xin in the most simple and idiot proof way. After exposing her to letters, I also tried my best to get her to identify as many letters as she can when I am out with her. Sometimes it could be at the bus stop where we saw a poster. a message on our block's notice board or a sign board.
In the month of May, I decided to make digital flashcards to flash to Le Xin because I think she is ready to identify the letters. (This is more like an assessment) I am not uptight about her not knowing certain letters but I will be cross when she is not serious or playing a fool when I am teaching her because I feel that she needs to learn to be attentive and focus during "study time", see I can turn into a tiger mum at times too :)
Here's a print screen of how I did using Power Point ...so when I flashed the letters to Le Xin of course I switched the slide to slide show where it's big. In the beginning, I would press the button and she will say the names of the letters but eventually she could press the button and say names of the letters all by herself. (Actually I not only did this for Phonics but for shapes, colours, animals, plants and etc...)
I started off with 5 small letters, just random letters.... I didn't introduce letter "a" first like how most people would do it nor introduce letter "s" first like how it was done in Jolly Phonics. I cannot remember which were the 5 letters I introduced first but I remembered I just chose 5 small letters that look completely different from one another and flashed them to her. This means that I didn't introduce letter i and letter l or letter b and letter d at the same time because they look similar to me.
In just one day, she could identify all the five letters. Maybe you might be thinking Le Xin was purely memorizing what I taught her and frankly speaking I thought so too. However, later on I observed that she really wasn't just memorizing because she could really recognise the letters and tell me the names of the letters on the a-z chart and even when she saw some of those letters in her surrounding she could point them out and say the letter names... I believe that was happening because I have previously played so many letter games with her and set up various provocations at home to encourage her to explore letters
I blog about this under the post Early Literacy....
So after introducing Le Xin to all the small letters for a month or so with the use of PowerPoint slides that I showed you earlier on, I observed that Le Xin could remember most of the names of the letters and of course I was thrilled and became motivated to start her on a proper Phonics based approach where she could learn about letter shapes and sounds. I tried my favourite Letterland!
To my disappointment, she didn't seems to like Letterland. I recalled... Annie Apple and Bouncy Ben was still quite okay to her but when I did Clever Cat, she just completely lost interest in it. I could tell that she finds it very boring to hear me talk about the characters and even when I read the ABC book she wasn't too interested to look at the picture either. I couldn't understand why because I have used Letterland with so many children in the schools that I have worked in and they love it to bits.
I can only say that each child is unique and special. Le Xin was often found to be distracted when I used Letterland to teach her and she didn't show much interest in the Letterland songs as well. So after trying Dippy Duck and Eddy Elephant, alright I decided to stop because I realised it's really not working :p
So I came up with my own method to teach her.....I can't say this is a good method, but it's simple and it works for Le Xin....
Firstly, I introduced Le Xin to the letter sound using a simple Phonic song that she can relate to, I went on YouTube and I found this...
I am sure most of you must have heard of this song "Skip to my Lou" so all the Phonics songs in this YouTube video are sang to the melody this song just that the lyrics were different for different letters. Alright, to tell you the truth, I find this video rather cheesy but for Le Xin she likes it, easy to remember too, it's not about us adults sometimes we always need to gear towards the interest of the child.
So after introducing "Ants on the Apple" for letter a, she began singing it. Alright to be fair she also sang "Annie Apple" and "Bouncy Ben" song but I didn't hear her singing Clever Cat song and Dippy Duck song was just too difficult for her to remember so she neither want to listen nor dance to it.
So finally, I decided to use this video as my theme song for each Phonics session with her since it was SO EASY to remember.
Next, I went on to search for Phonic books that I can read to her during the Phonic session.
Sunshine Books was what I found! In this book, you can see a tadpole looking character called Lettergetter sharing with you something about the letter.
Due to copyright issues, I don't think I could scan the images inside the book to show you...but there are only 8 pages in this book and it is super easy for a toddler or young reader to "digest" the info. In fact, Le Xin could read some of the books by now.
I will give you an example on how I teach Le Xin Letter c...
On Tuesday, I showed her the Lettergetter Loves C book so I read it with her together and get her to read the words that start with c for a 2 times. Then I get her to finger trace letter c which can be found on the cover page behind. She would usually say Mummy I trace the small c you trace the big C Next, I turn on the YouTube video on letter c to show her, in this case it would be "Caterpillar coughing c... c.... c..."
After which, I will do a revision on the names of the letters with Le Xin by opening up my PowerPoint file (the one which I print screen to show you guys it's above just scroll up to see if you have forgotten how it looks like), when she sees letter c which is the letter for the week, she needs to say C is what Lettergetter loves this week!
Next I opened up another Power Point slide which I prepared it's called Phonics Flash Cards. In this file, there are only 3 slides, letter a, letter b which was what I taught her for the past two weeks and the last slide is letter c which was what I am focusing on for that week.
So when I switched it to slide show, I will get Le Xin to say the name of the letter and letter sound. When she said correctly I will motivate her with a kiss, a hug, a sticker or a small raisin. When I was doing this for weeks there will be a lot of letters right? So I only gave her a reward after 4 or 5 slides but the whole idea is just to encourage her so if she has forgotten or not sure I do not scold her I just tell her it's okay nvm and tell her the answer (in my heart it was really NO BIG DEAL).....There was once she was coughing badly so she said to me Mummy today I cannot eat raisins because I am coughing can you give me my outer space sticker instead? I felt so happy after hearing that, even though she asked for a reward but she had good self control which I thought was very good! There was another time I gave her two raisins and she gave one back to me and told me Mummy I should only eat one raisin, this one is for you. I felt that she was so honest, not very sure if I will do the same thing like her, haha I guess I will eat both and keep quiet :p
So on Thursday I did the same thing again with her, but this time I tried to let her read the Lettergetter book by herself, if there were any words she can't read, I will be there to facilitate and help.
So on the weekends, either on Saturday or Sunday (depending on which day we are free) I would do the same thing with her followed by an activity sheet which I designed for her.
I used Microsoft Words to do this activity sheet. Font: Century Gothic, font size - 20 on top, the big c is enlarged to big size for her to do a collage - print screen cut and paste back on the file. The smaller c(s) are font size 100. So just highlight right click, choose font then choose outline.
So that's how I taught Le Xin Phonics each week....
Alright here's a short documentation on how she did the activity sheet...
Firstly, she wrote her name by herself, I didn't type out an outline name because I think that's not necessary. At times, I would hold her hand but these days I would just write the letters on a piece of paper for her to copy.
Next she chose what materials she wanted to complete the big letter collage. In this observation, she chose red ribbon for her big c... when I said big I don't mean capital "C"I just mean big as in size...
Cutting a piece of red ribbon
Look how focus my darling is :)
Let's use white glue now...
Applying the glue on her ribbon
Pasting it on the letter
Almost done said Le Xin
Next, she chose the markers she wanted to use to write the letter....
I just love to watch how she writes with confidence and how she smiles at me after writing..
Here's a video of her writing..
So after I completed letter c with her, the following day I also did a follow up activity with her that was related to letter c... I don't always do follow up activities, I only do it when I have the time (I am a working mum, I have to have time for myself, so I do not force myself to the limit)...I will blog about it next time because this entry is getting way too lengthy...
Okay the Phonic story ends here, let's me summaries why Phonics is important!
1) Phonics is an important strategy that one can use to read.
2) Even though there are many strategies out there a child can use to read, to be a skilled and fluent reader, a child needs to have the knowledge on sound and spelling relationships hence the understanding of Phonics is essential.
3) Phonics helps children to comprehend text, how? It helps to map sounds into spelling thus decoding words which leads to fluency.
4) When a child doesn't struggle with decoding words, he/she can then concentrate on the meaning from the text.
5) Improve spelling ability because phonics has a strong emphasis on spelling patterns.
6) Even though not all words can be spelled with Phonics rules, the fact is that MOST WORDS CAN!
So start your child on Phonics as soon as you can and you will see wonders...
The above summary is taken from "http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/understand-phonics"
you can read more from this website :)
Okay ending this post with a pic (clue to the next post that I would be blogging on)....
Can you guess what is this? (By the way Daddy Scott did this :p)