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The Seven Steps to Beginning Curriculum for The Young Reader

Each month we will be featuring a different part of the Seven Steps. If you miss any of the parts or just want to go back and re-read a part, just click on the links below .

1. Strategies For a Positive Mind (August 2005)
2. Writing Plain and Clear (September 2005)
3. Vocabulary By Example (October 2005)
4. Spelling In Parts (November 2005)
5. Listening With Feedback (December 2005)
6. Comprehension Puzzle (January 2006)
7. Phonemic Awareness (March 2006)


Methodology in phonemic awareness must first begin with groups of words that have some commonality. Children need patterns or rules to base reading foundation upon to be able to refer back to as vocabulary increases. This article is a collection of general definitions of these phonemic groupings with words to practice with your child. Hopefully this will be a great basis to start reading vocabulary.

For the sake of clarity, let’s divide our basic word rules/definitions into twelve areas that are simple to concentrate on during vocabulary reading building with your child.

1. CONSONANTS: These are the letters b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y and z.

Singing these letters with their initial sound can be fun for small children. Repeat them often in the same way to get the consonants firm in the mind of your child. Later, write the lower case letters on a blackboard and let your child point to each as the letters are song in order.

2. VOWELS: These are the letters a, e, i, o and u. Also, sometimes y and w are vowels.

Write with ink on the five fingers of your child the five lowercase vowels. On the other hand write the five upper case letters. Have him match the letters with his fingers. Children love the feel of the tips of their fingers touching the letters. Sing and show the vowel sounds. Explain that there are short vowels and long vowel sounds.

3. SHORT VOWELS: When a three-letter word has one vowel, it is most likely to be short in sound as in hat, pot, and sit. If one syllable has a vowel between two consonants or at the beginning of a consonant, it is likely to be short as in bug, an, and ten.

a                 e                        i                 o                      u

apple         elephant         igloo         octopus         umbrella

Connect, through song, the sound with a word. Ask for the five short vowels by asking for the five words above always in order. The child will later connect the initial sound of each as a short vowel sound.

4.LONG VOWELS: When there are two vowels together in a word, usually the first one says its own name and the second one is silent. In a four-letter word, ending with e, the vowel sound most likely will be long.

Vowel Team ai: bail, fail, hail, jail, mail, nail, pail, rail, sail, rail, wail, frail, trail, snail, quail, gain, plain, lain, slain, main, stain, main, stain, pain, strain, rain, brain, train, drain, grain, paint, chain.

Vowel Team ay: Say, may, bay, ray, day, clay, stay, hay, pay, fray, delay, replay, maybe, birthday.

Vowel Team oa: Oat, boat, moat, coat, goat, soap, float, gloat, throat, road, load, toad, boast, toast, roast

Vowel Team ow: Own, snow, show, bowl, nlow, throw, grow, below, mellow, yellow, fellow, sorrow, willow, pillow, shadow, grown flown, growth, elbow, minnow, hollow, follow, mow

Vowel Team oe: Toe, hoe, doe, tiptoe

Vowel Team of ee: See, feel, peel, seem, seen, screen, beep, weep, deep, keep, jeep, sleep, peep, seep

Vowel Team of ea: Eat, beat, feat, heat, meat, neat, seat, cleat, treat, leaf, scream, heal, mean, east, team

Vowel Team of ie: Brief, grief, thief, field, shield, belief

Vowel Team of ey: Key, chimney, monkey, parsley, hockey, valley

Ending with e: Take, bake, snake, make, flute, these, those, nose, came, same, name, home, gate, late, skate, gave, ripe, five, joke, time, shine, fine, mine, nine, size, prize, while, white, quite, hike, bike, like, ape, grape, robe, use, ate, cane, cape, cube, cute, bit, dime, fade, hide, hope, kite, made, note, pane, pine, ride, tape.

Long Vowel Sentences:

    Dale and Dan wade in the lake.
    Did the man run in the cave?
    The ape is safe in the hut.
    Nan will gaze at the lake.
    Dave saves his dog.
    Jane has a date with a friend.
    Dale is mine.
    Jim and Jan take the kite.
    The dime that fell is mine.
    The time is five o”clock.
    The horse is a big size.
    The owl is big and wise.
    Sue will go back with nine gals.
    Luke and Pete sit on a cube.

5. Y AS A VOWEL : When y comes at the end of a word, it can sound like a long I, as in sky, or the sound of a long e as in bunny, funny, or sunny.

6. BASIC WORDS: These few words account for 75% of the Fisrt and Second Grade readers.
These 13 basic words are as listed: A, and, it, is, to, the, of, was, you, for, he, in, that

7. RHYMING WORDS: These are words that have the same ending vowel and consonant sounds. See number 12 for word families.


8. CONSONANT BLENDS: These are two or three letter consonants sounded together in a word so each letter is heard.

    Bl     blanket     block
    Cl     clock     clown
    Fl     flag     flower
    Gl     globe     glove
    Pl     plane     plant
    Sl     sleeve     slide
    Br     brain     broom
    Cr     crab     crayon
    Dr     dress     drum
    Fr     frog     fruit
    Gr     grapes     grass
    Pr     pretzel     princess
    Tr     tree     truck
    Sk     skate     skunk
    Sm     small     smoke
    Sn     snail     snowman
    Sp     spider     spoon
    St     star     stool
    Sw     sweater     swim
    Tw     twig     twine
    mp     lamp     stamp     jump
    nk     bank     sink     pink
    nd     hand     pond     sand
    lk     walk     chalk     milk
    sk     mask     whisk     desk
    ft     gift     lift     raft
    nt     paint     ant     tent
    st     list     nest     vest

9. CONSONANT DIAGRAPHS: These are when two letters stand for one sound as in thumb, whale, cherry, or knee.

Beginning Diagraphs:

Ch     chair     cheese
Sh     shell     sheep
Th     thimble     thumb
Wh     whale     whistle
Ph     phone     photograph

Ending Diagraphs:

Ch     couch     sandwich
Sh     brush     fish
Th     bath     tooth
Ng     king     ring
Dge     badge     judge
Tch     switch     watch

10. COMPOUND WORD: When two small words are joined together,such as blackberry, the new word is a compound word.

Crabapple, crawfish, dashboard, mudscreen, automobile, brightness, pineapple, eggplant, fairytale, gasmask, gatecrasher, keystone, strawberry, middleman, mindset, poppycock, postcard, roadway, signboard, upward, vouchsafe, waffle iron, washout.

11. CONTRACTIONS: In order to shorten writing, two words may leave out a letter or more and replace it with an apostrophy.

He will He’ll
She will She’ll
They will They’ll
It is It’s
Do not Don’t
Is not Isn’t

12. Word Families: This is a collection of words that end in the same two letters.

Ab     cab,dab,gab,jab,nab,crab,grab
Ad     bad,dad,lad,mad,pad,sad,brad,glad
Ag     bag,nag,rag,sag,tag,wag,drag,flag
Am     dam,hamjam,ram,Sam,clam,slam
An     can,fan,man,pan,ran,Stan,van,plan
Ap     cap,gap,lap,clasp,snap,nap,tap
Ar     bar,car,far,jar,tar,char,scar,star
At     bat,cat,fat,hat,rat,sat,flat,that

Ed     bed,fed,led,Ted,shed,sled,red,
En     Ben,den,hen,men,pen,ten,then,when
Et     jet,let,met,net,pet,set,wet,fret

Id     bid,did,hid,kid,lid,rid,grid,slid
Ig     big,dig,fig,jig,pig,wig,spig,twig
In     bin,tin,win,chin,skin,kin,pin
Ip     dip,hip,rip,sip,tip,zip,ship,trip
It     bit,fit,sit,kit,quit,pit,split

Ob     Bob ,cob,job,rob,sob,blob,knob
Og     bog,dog,fog,hog,jog,hog,frog,log
Op     bop,cop0,pop,hop,mop,stop,shop
Ot     cot,dot got,hot,not,pot,knot,spot

Ub     cub,tub,rub,sub,club,scrub,shrub
Ug     bug,dug,hug,mug,rug,tug,plug,slug
Um     bum,gum,sum,chum,drum,plum
Un     bun,fun,nun,run,sun,shun,spun,stun
Ut     but,cut,hut,nut,strut,rut,shut

These twelve areas of phonemic awareness are vital in the basic foundation of reading English. English does not follow all of the rules for every word as European influences are prevalent. Use these twelve to get the confidence going and the reading flowing.

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