English Phonics: Primary Phonics

I’m procrastinating by writing posts instead of planning.  I started the year with a big bang as usual and petered out after about a week.  sigh

That said, I’m still planning away, just with many low days and some high days.

One of my goals for this year is to teach Thumper how to read in English.  Last year, I only had energy for her to review her short vowel sounds and work on some sight words.  It wasn’t planned, but it worked out perfectly because she can now read in Chinese.

The series we’re using to learn to read is Primary Phonics.  You can get it at Rainbow Resource for much cheaper than Amazon.  For me, this set is perfect for Thumper, who already knew all of her alphabet sounds and had practiced reading at school, but now needs more practice.  I feel like already knowing all the sounds first, and learning to read words first, makes it easier to the children.  I remember Thumper getting very frustrated with the BOB books for that reason, just too many things going on.

There are 6 sets, 10 books each.  We’ve been doing 2-3 books a day when we remember, for the last 2-3 weeks, and have progressed from set 2 to set 3.  The first set was all on short vowel sounds.  The second set long vowels and magic E (made, cake, etc), and the third set is on blends, first two vowels, then two consonants together.

I’m loving the set so far.  I tried to be cheap by printing out a free phonics set online.  But it only had 18 little booklets and by the 7th and 8th book, I knew it was just progressing way too fast.  Thumper had a lot of trouble sounding out words and reading smoothly.  So I bit the bullet and ordered sets 3 and 4 from Rainbow Resource.  So far so good.  The books are written so there’s repetition of words and focus on specific sounds for each book.  We go through the list of focus words on the inner flap before we read, and I let her read a few pages so ensure she gets it and then just go away and listen with half a year.  The other day we went biking and she read a whole phrase on the bike map, which let met know that she’s really learned those vowel blends finally.

You can buy workbooks and comprehension books along that match each set.  I like the workbooks because Thumper likes to go through and color the pictures and do the exercises for fun.  It’s also an easy way to turn in to our charter school when it’s time to collect samples.  I’m not sure if comprehension is necessary.  I read this book once wrote by a veteran homeschooling mom, who basically said that when you learn to read it’s about sounding out the words, not necessarily about comprehension, because the children are spending all their efforts on learning to read already, why are we asking them to also think about what they’re reading at the same time?  You can do comprehension with other non-learning to read activities.  That logic makes sense to me.

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Introduction to Capitalization in English

Sometimes I start on something and then it becomes a rabbit hole that I sink into.  The latest research is on capitalization.  Now that Thumper is starting to read in earnest in Chinese and really practicing her English phonics, we’re encountering capitalization.  I notice that she does not capitalize when she writes.  Probably because Montessori starts writing all in lower case.  Perfect timing I randomly decided to do this presentation first!

Capitalization in English

Obviously, lots of resources for capitalization in English on the web.  I did a quick search and came across quite a few links for exercises.  In my research I read that some kids just kind of pick this up as they read, others need a refresher.  I printed a bunch of them out for Thumper to practice.   The eight rules, according to Montessori for Everyone, are:

  1. Capitalize the first word of a sentence. For example: Everyone likes the new exhibit at the museum.
  2. Capitalize the pronoun “I”. For example: The birthday present is just what I wanted.
  3. Capitalize place names: countries, continents, oceans, states, provinces, towns, cities, and street names. For example: Namibia, Rwanda, and Gabon are all countries in Africa.
  4. Capitalize the days of the week, months of the year, and holidays. For example: Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday celebrated on the 5th of May.
  5. Capitalize the words in a title, except for prepositions and articles unless they are the first word in the title. For example: I’ve always wanted to read The Wind in the Willows.
  6. Capitalize people’s first, middle, and last names. For example: Johann Sebastian Bach was a great composer.
  7. Capitalize the first word in a quoted sentence. For example: As Abraham Lincoln said, “Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation.”
  8. Capitalize titles of address, like “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Jr.” and “Dr.”, and place modifiers like “St.” and “Ave.” For example: When my brother got sick, my mother took him to see Dr. Green.

How we’re teaching it

I just researched and printed out a bunch of capitalization worksheets.  One of them, the Montessori for Everyone one, has the rules printed on top.  I asked her if she could think of some rules on why we capitalize and she came up with needing to capitalize “I” and beginning of sentence.  We then talked about the rule, then talked about it some more at dinner with Baba.  I like having her talk to him about what she learned so I can see how much she recalls.  Now we’re going through worksheet one by one because she can’t actually read the English yet.  I’m asking her to circle the letters that need capitalization and then tell me why they need to be circled.  It’s kind of nice that I’m able to just go through it one on one with her for the first worksheet.  I’m leaving her to do the 3 more that I have to see how it goes…

Oh, we had a moment where she said, “oh nooooooo, I made a mistake” and I, having just recently read the Mindset book, said, “….and we can learn from it.”  I had to repeat a few times.  Trying to implement this new growth mindset thing…even though I didn’t finish the whole book last Friday when I looked through it at the bookstore.

Chinese Capitalization

I originally had the Chinese capitalization post in here.  But I realized that in itself is a big subject because there are some gotchas for children if they’re learning both languages.  As Chinese “capitalization” is just slightly different from English!  So you can follow the link and read on…..