Long-time readers are probably aware that we use the Dwyer approach rather than the PBG scheme to teach reading in our home. As I uploaded pictures over the course of the last several weeks it occurred to me that you all might need an update on where Kal-El is in that approach.
In my second post on the Dwyer approach I gave a run down of the first six or so steps of the approach as I understand them.
- Aural preparation of the child (in addition to the usual vocabulary building, stories, poems, songs, etc., this means all levels of the sound game (initial, middle, and ending sounds) with all 40 key sounds from American English.
- All sandpaper letters, single and double
- Moveable Alphabet
- Object boxes.
- In tandem with, before or after 4. (object boxes) Activity Word Game.
- puzzle word cards
While we still use our sandpaper letters and movable alphabet almost every day we have past the point where the object boxes and activity word game are useful. We are still working in step six which continues for a long time as we add to the child's collection of sight words. The next step in the Dwyer approach (again, as I understand it which is, I'm sure, far from perfect) is little handmade books followed by a whole slew of phonogram work (starting with the phonogram folders and dictionary as detailed in the Gettman Book).
If you are trying to avoid making the little books yourself by using early readers that you can pull off the shelf at the library you may find, as I did, that your child's success in using those books is highly dependent on whether the author is using puzzle words the child knows or puzzle words they don't know. Obviously one way to get around this is to study the set of early readers you would like to use and pull your puzzle words from those books.
I would rather draw little pictures with markers than sit down and do all of that sorting and list making. However, I don't have the mental energy right now to come up with my own little stories either. My solution was to organize this part of Kal-El's reading using Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington's book The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.
I don't use the book exactly the way it is intended, I use it as a guide for selecting words, sentences, and stories in an organized way to use with our Montessori activities. I once read that there might be Dwyer materials (little books and word lists) that are available for purchase but have never found anything like that myself.
There is a chance that you are not using the Montessori method to teach your child to read but read this blog anyway. In that case, I want to say that this is a really great book that in 231 ten to twenty-minute lessons covers nearly every little rule and oddity you need to know to read in English. You can view the index of lessons here (on Amazon under the "table of contents" portion of the "look inside this book" feature). Here is a picture of one of the lessons in the book.
The lessons are "scripted" with very little talking and a lot of "doing." While I am not following the scripts because we are using our Montessori activities rather than following the book by the letter, I do find them to be a useful example of the words I can use to explain a reading rule to Kal-El without dumbing it down more than necessary.
What I do is use the script to explain the new idea I want to talk about that day (such as "Now we are going to learn another two-consonant blend. When you place the consonants 's' and 't' next to one another, they represent a sound that you hear at the ends of these words: nest, fast, dust."); then, we use the word list in many different ways depending on Kal-El's choices (he writes the word I say on the chalkboard, or with the movable alphabet, or on squared paper, OR he chooses to read a word I write via one of these methods).
The book then provides little sentences or stories that use that concept frequently. . In the Wise/Buffington book the sentences and stories are not illustrated. This can be a good thing for a while if you have a child that is in a rut of "guessing" what the sentence says by looking at the picture instead of reading it. Dwyer recommends that these types of things be illustrated whenever possible. Kal-El certainly finds reading the most tempting when illustrated.
Wise/Buffington provides stories rather than sentences almost all of the time. On the occasion that only sentences are provided, I make little sentence strips and matching pictures with images from the internet.
Here is Kal-El matching some sentences and pictures this morning:
Here are some closer photos of these. As you can see, we have been working on ending consonant blends like "ct" and "lk."
More often than not, we actually have a little book to read.
I cut up a bunch of printer paper into quarters one day and I just grab paper as I need them and staple it together at the end.
I took photos of each page inside of one I made recently. I am a relatively decent artist, but as you will see I am drawing simply and quickly. I want to make these in five to ten minutes and get my point across. I am not dwelling on each page and doing a full illustration.
I chose this particular book to photograph because it was kind of neat in that it is a "never ending book." For that reason, I bound this one with rings and made no cover so that after the last page you turn directly to the first page again and keep going. I did put a red tab on the first page so he could find it again if he puts it down in the middle. Kal-El thinks this book is rather silly.
This story practiced many consonant blends and introduced the ellipsis. The script provided explains the ellipsis to the child as follows: "This story is fun to read. It ends with a mark of punctuation called an ellipsis. when you see an ellipsis, you know that words have been left out on purpose. When you see the three dots in this story, you are supposed to start the story again from the beginning."
I like how the scripts don't underestimate the child and remind me not to. I might not have used the word "ellipsis" or explained it so clearly if I hadn't read their suggested wording first. I don't read the script out of the book to Kal-El. He doesn't know there IS a "book." All he sees are his activities and the end products of my little books.
He has watched me make some books and now makes books of his own. Usually they steal the plot from one of mine and change the child's name. It's a start. My book "sick Mick" became "sick Awex" in his version. "Awex" is how you spell "Alex" if you are five and still have a speech impediment.
Not everyone will need help organizing their child's reading materials like this. If you are doing a lot of reading together out of regular books you are going to run into all of these things over time. An experienced teacher in a classroom has probably internalized all of these tidbits and has probably amassed a collection of materials that cover all this as they work through them.
I, on the other hand, don't have that experience and was finding that Kal-El was frustrated when he picked out books at the library because I hadn't remembered to point out that "s can sound like /z/" as in "his, is, has, and as" for example.
Like I said earlier, a lot of kids (myself included) learn to read just through reading books with a parent who is taking time to point things out and answer questions. I know some of us are relaxed enough to choose books carefully and let that work. Others of us (me) are little more "type A" and so many homeschooling parents in general are afraid they will "miss something." I wanted to share what I am using to simplify my teaching preparation and give me the confidence that the materials will let the child do the work. I'm sure there are a lot of other ways that some of you out there do this at this stage in your child's reading be it through a series of prepared readers, a spelling program, or purchasing a "scheme." I am just letting you know what is working for us!
We will be working on the Dwyer/Gettman phonogram activities soon. I thought we would start them when then come up in my Wise/Buffington book so that I can use the stories that go with them at that same time.
HERE IS A LINK TO ANOTHER POST FROM THIS BLOG ON DWYER-COMPATIBLE READERS!
HERE IS A LINK TO ANOTHER POST FROM THIS BLOG ON DWYER-COMPATIBLE READERS!
YOU CAN FIND MY OTHER POSTS ABOUT THE DWYER APPROACH HERE.