Friday, March 16, 2012

Reading and Writing - In Action

I've talked a lot about the materials that we use for our reading and writing, but I've never broken it down into what we actually do.  Since reading and writing is our main focus right now (we're learning and memorizing all the building blocks we are going to need for later learning in this grammar stage, according to the classical model of schooling) I thought I should show you all exactly how we do it!

First, we are learning the phonograms and spelling words in The Writing Road to ReadingWe have currently learned the first 45 phonograms and the first 32 spelling words.  Each week we add four new words.  I write the phonograms and words on 3x5 cards and put them into our Memorization Box (that we also use for Bible verses).  So each day, I pull out the cards that are behind that day in the box and ask Trevor to write those words (or phonograms) from memory in his writing notebook.  This is a great activity for him, because it makes him sound out each sound in the word and then think of what letter or combination of letters makes that sound.  This is very challenging, but it is great to see him work through each word and he is getting better and better by the day!

A page from Trevor's writing notebook where he writes the words I speak to him from the cards in our memorization box.  You can see we were having a little trouble with the letter 'y' that day =)

Next, we turn to the back half of his writing notebook where I have written all the spelling words that he has (officially) learned so far.  I write them with the notations recommended in The Writing Road to ReadingTrevor starts from the beginning of the list and reads through each word.  This only takes a minute because he practices these words each day.  It is also easier to read these words because the notations help him remember if there is a specific rule needed for the word or which sound a particular letter makes (if it's a letter that can make multiple sounds).

One of the pages of words that I have written in Trevor's writing notebook that he reads through each day.  Notice the notations that help him learn and remember why the words are pronounced they way they are.

After that we go to the McGuffey Primer.  I just use the free public domain version and print out the page we are using each day.  You can use McGuffey primers and readers to teach phonics or sight-words, or however you want, but we use it purely as a reader.  We have made it through 10 lessons so far (we just stared this part recently) and to my surprise, Trevor has had no problem sounding out the words.  When I first looked at it, I thought that it would quickly surpass Trevor's abilities, but instead his abilities have just increased along with it!  After he reads it, I ask him a question or two for comprehension.  Comprehension usually isn't a 3 year old boy's strong suit, but I figure at least it will be teaching him that he should be paying attention to what he reads =)

After he reads from the primer, he does copywork from the lesson.  I have created an e-book full of copywork to go along with the primer (one page of copywork for each lesson in the primer), so I print out the copywork page on the back of the lesson I printed out.  If you use McGuffey's Primer or are just looking for some good copywork for early writers, check it out here!   Trevor simply copies usually about 2 short sentences and that's it!  We talk about anything interesting like punctuation or capitalization or whatever. It's such a simple act, but it really does wonders for handwriting and is a great way to passively teach grammar.

A page from my copywork e-book that corresponded with the McGuffey's Primer lesson he read that day.

To sum it up:
  1. Written Review - write from memory the day's words in the memory box
  2. Oral Review - read the list of current and previously learned spelling words
  3. McGuffey Primer - read the lesson, ask questions for comprehension
  4. Copywork - complete a copywork page for the McGuffey's Primer lesson

So that's it =)  Like I said, reading and writing is the most important thing for us right now, so we try to work on this every day.  It really doesn't take much time (except when Trevor loses focus and wants to talk about something random in between each letter he writes on his copywork =)  I am thoroughly impressed at how well Trevor is reading and writing for a 3 year old and think that these few simple steps each day is totally worth it!

What have you found works best for you for teaching your children to read?

Happy Reading and Writing!

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  1. It's been awhile since we've taught reading but your day looks great!

    Found you through What Joy is Mine linkup. I'm hosting my own called Loving Our Children. Come on over and join in!

  2. Amy, sounds like a great set up. I'm glad your son is learning. Thank you for sharing and for linking up at What Joy Is Mine.

  3. Wow 3 years old and he's doing all of that..well done.;)

    1. Well, no doubt we've put a lot of work in, but we will see once my little girl is 3 1/2 if my son is just inclined to reading/writing early, or if the system gets the credit ;) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. You are doing a wonderful job, Amy!! It's amazing what just a little effort will do! Children are so eager to learn and capable!

    1. Thanks, Jessica =) I totally agree that children a very capable if you just expect something out of them!

  5. Bravo for learning with the McG's--my favorite teaching books of all time--the copy work pages look wonderful!

    1. Thank you, Sherry! I have done much reading at your site about using the McGuffey books =)

  6. Hi, I am using WRTR and having a little trouble. I was wondering if we could chat via email? Thank you for your helpful blog post - this is the most information I have been able to find online.



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