Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sound Beginnings Review

Our special table in the living room that they use only for phonics (Ellie just practices writing letters and listens in on the lessons, sometimes)

As you may remember from my posts in previous months, I really agonized over choosing a phonics program to use this year. So far we've used How To Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which wasn't that great of a fit for us. We plowed through it slowly but surely (started when she was 4), and made it to about Lesson 75 before quitting this fall.

We tried some MCP Phonics workbooks, and tried more of a "whole language" approach with easy readers and trying to construct my own reading lessons. I also considered Hooked on Phonics, the Explode the Code workbooks, and some of the other programs recommended by Cathy Duffy. But after debating back and forth, and back and forth, I finally opted to order a used Sound Beginnings program from Cathswap. This approach is based on the Spalding method of phonics instruction, and is very much similar to the Riggs program I used in my 1st Grade classroom at the Catholic school.

It teaches each phonogram (sound) with explicit handwriting instruction for every letter (which MC really needed), and uses flashcards. So yesterday she learned 4 new phonograms (v, w, x, z) and practiced writing them, choosing her best ones and analyzing her own writing. Then the next few days I will orally ask her all of the 22 phonograms she has learned, and she will write them in her best handwriting. I also give her "homework" to practice writing the ones she has trouble with. Even though she already knows her single letter sounds very well, this has been a great review and has been very good for her handwriting progress.

I'm looking forward to starting the double letter phonograms with her, because I know it will really help with her spelling, and reading. Speaking of reading, her reading is really coming along with the Little Angel Readers! I usually do the phonics lesson and have her read one story from the readers every day.

Here are some photos with explanation of some great things about Sound Beginnings.

They encourage children to use proper posture while writing, and ask that you use a special lined paper. At the bottom of the photo, you can see my book (has great instructions for the parent!), and the flashcard stack...I think that one shown is "ur the ur of nurse."

I like how the flashcards show a picture of how to write the phonogram on the lines, and also show the way you will usually see the letter written in a book. The program also includes worksheets, which Mary Clare is doing below, finding beginning, ending, and middle sounds to words that I dictate for her.

I got the idea from the Frugal Family Fun Blog to put worksheets in plastic page protectors to reuse them! Mary Clare loves writing with the wet-erase (overhead) marker, and of course the erasing is fun too!

I can't believe I agonized so much over this decision. I felt like I disliked the intense phonics program when I was a teacher and hesitated to try it with my own kids. But I think it was just what we both needed! I like how it's all working so far and hope that this program continues to help Mary Clare to be a stronger reader and writer!


Melissa D. said...

I really enjoy your Homeschool posts. I have never considered homeschooling, but I just love the way you are the one sitting with your kids and teaching them, and tailoring the educational experience just to them and their needs. It is making me think about the possibility.

Ray said...

We use Sound Beginnings as well. So far, so good. Works well with our son (Joseph) because he has a mind that needs to know all the why's things are the way they are. This program has that feature and he has made more progress with it than with 100 Easy Lessons.

Plus, the author is from Seattle. Small world in that we actually went in on a cow with her and a couple other local families.

Neen said...

I posted about the Riggs phonogram cards yesterday on my homeschool blog. I have struggled with what to use as well, and tried most of them. I have concluded that as long as you keep trying you will make progress. For my kiddos there has not been an easy solution. I hope this works well for you.

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