Thursday, February 16, 2012

Phonogram Dictionary: Dwyer, Part 7

If you have missed the other posts in my series"Dwyer as a Better Language Approach for Montessori at Home"you can find them by clicking here, or under the "Dwyer" tab at the top of my blog under the header.

I finally got around to photographing the Phonogram Dictionary I made for Kal-El.  What is it for?  Throughout the process of working with sound games, sandpaper letters, the movable alphabet, object boxes, etc., the child has become quite familiar with the 40 key sounds.  The reading folders introduce him to the alternate spellings for those key sounds, but he has not necessarily memorized them (he will eventually do so through continued work with the reading folders and extensions).  At the same time, the child is excited about reading and is ready to read words as he finds them, not just in carefully prepared readers. The phonogram dictionary is designed to give him that independence.

There is a free download available at Kingdom of the Pink Princesses to aid in making your own phonogram dictionary. There are two phonogram dictionaries pictured in her post.  One, donated by Barbara Furst, is much like the one I made.  The other, pictured later, is the downloadable one and you will see it pictured as four separate books.  I elected not to use it and make my own from scratch for two reasons.  The first is simply that there are almost always regional changes that need to be made to this work (and the reading folders) so I was going to have to make changes anyway.  Secondly, that dictionary is designed differently than the ones Dwyer would make (for digital/printing reasons) in that you have to make four separate books.  I felt that carrying four books and finding the right sound would be much more cumbersome and not really desirable for us.  Imagine looking up a word yourself in the dictionary but you have to choose the correct book from among four first to find it and none of them are in any kind of alphabetical order.

At any rate, this is how it works.  When you open the front cover there are approximately 13 phonograms (or single letters sounds that can also be represented by other spellings that involve two or more letters) listed under the word "key."

These phonograms are the same spellings that are found on the double (or in some cases, single) sandpaper letters the child learned from the beginning and are the original spellings for that he has learned for those sounds.  For example, while there are two ways to make the "f" sound (f, ph) the child originally only learned "f".  He was introduced to the "ph" spelling in the reading folder exercises.  However, when he runs into "ph" together in a book he's reading he might not remember what sound it makes.  So, he can now pick up his phonogram dictionary, find "ph" written on one of the tabs down the right-hand side, turn to that page and see the "key" spelling that represents the same sound:

Words that use the long vowel sounds due to the silent "e" is represented by showing the vowel within used within the word followed by a hyphen and then the silent "e". For example, if the child found the word "here" he would look up "e-e" on the tab and would find the key spelling "ee".

I forgot to take a picture, but some of the spellings will have more than one key spelling listed.  For example, if the child finds the word "happy" and looks up the "y" he will find "ie" (as in pie) and "ee" (as in tree) listed.  He will have to try them both and choose the one that makes sense.

The dictionary was simple, but tedious, to make.  So tedious that my husband approached me halfway through and told me to "just buy it!"  I told him that there is only ONE place I know of to buy one (Nienhuis) and he could feel free to look it up on the computer.  Here is a link to the Nienhuis package that bundles the 13 reading folders (I made mine nearly for free), the Dwyer pamphlet ($7 plus shipping from NAMTA), and the phonogram dictionary (made myself for free).  They are asking $350!  Even if I estimate generously for my materials costs, this is at least a $330 markup.  He told me to "keep cutting tabs!"

To make our dictionary I used my paper cutter to cut white cardstock to the appropriate size according to the Dwyer pamphlet and carefully planned my tabs so I knew how many pages I would need.  I bound the pages (uncut) together with a red cardstock cover using my inexpensive comb binding machine (which I am really enjoying now that Kal-El is at the age where he likes to make booklets again and again).  Then, I did a little division to determine how tall my tabs needed to be and cut each one with a scissors by hand leaving one page at the front without tabs to be the "key".  Finally, all I had to do was write each of the spellings on a tab down the right hand side and write the key spelling(s) next to it further in on the page.

There you have it!  If you have any questions, please let me know!  As always, I love your comments!

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  1. We'va got exactly the same in french language ;-)

  2. You should start selling this stuff. If spend $20 on materials and charge $40, you will make money and we will still be getting a heck of a deal! ;)
    I think yours looks wonderful! You did a great job! Thanks for sharing all think information! It sure helps all of us out!

  3. I love the dictionary!! I will certianly make a version to go with our folders:)) Thanks for including the links:))

  4. I have a Phonogram Dictionary that I put together that is available for anyone to print. Here's the page with the steps for using the dictionary:
    and here's the direct link to the pdf file:
    I hope to update it at some point so that there are three example words for each sound on every page, but I figured it was best to post what I had so far.

  5. Thank you Julia! That is an extremely helpful printable version. It is a lot more exhaustive than other examples of seen. I don't know how that fits in the scheme of things. However, this is a VERY usable printable. Thank you!

  6. Can not thank you enough for sharing all this information! I am home schooling my daughter who just turned 4 yrs old last week. Prior to learning about Montessori, I had taught her the alphabet and letter sounds and (eek) sight words. I am now redirecting and implementing the Dwyer approach. However, I'm confused about letting her start on sand paper letters and hand writing. I know it states not to BUT... She is showing great sensitivity to move forward with both and I'm worried holding her back will be detrimental. ??! She takes initiative to write her own alphabet and asks what letter comes next in her name as she's writing it. Her handwriting is horrible which is another reason I'm concerned to hold her back.

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