One of my greatest homeschooling achievements to date is seeing my 4.5 year old get excited about reading. Ok yes, seeing her able to sound out and attempt to read her level 1 and 2 Biff and Chip books is exciting too. But, it’s seeing her go to her bookbag, take out her reading book for that week and practising all by herself or finding new books or sneakily trying to read the level 3 books. Or even better bugging her dad to say “You have to listen to me read and you have to write in my reading record!” – that I find more exciting! Alhamdulillah she enjoys reading and thats the best part. So let’s go back to how we got here…
Age 3.5, Ammarah began learning the alphabet. We started with a sound a week, following a mixture of Jolly Phonics (get the fantastic app here) or the letters and sounds curriculum we would teach at Primary Schools. This is the order I taught her the sounds in: s, a, t, p, i , n, g, o, c, k, m, d, e, h, u, r, l, f, b, j, w, x, y, z, qu
Some basic things you could make for these to help you along the way:
- Letter sounds flashcards – nothing fancy is needed, you could write the letters yourself on a white a4 sheet folded to make a total of 6 boxes. Cut to make flashcards. For durability you could laminate them (I would recommend this).
- Collect some milk bottle lids and write the letters on these for matching to the cards etc.
- As you learn the sounds, collect small toys or objects that match the letter you will be teaching each week. For example for the letter S – collecting an old sock, a star shape, a toy snake, a picture of a sun etc
Activities we did:
- A sound treasure hunt to start the week for each letter – this became such a routine, that Ammarah would be reminding me “Mama we haven’t done our treasure hunt!”
- Chalk writing the letters and saying how they are written so when we write the letter a for example, we say “Round like a c, up, down and flick” I find this helped Ammarah remember the formation later on, for example this year!
3. We practised our letter formation each week using art, and drawing in salt or even using pipe cleaners.
4. We made a sound plate after about 6 sounds ensuring we recapped everything we did and also tried to be as creative and different as possible each time we looked at a new letter sound.5.We also celebrated books through fab story telling workshops that we as homeschooling mamas organised ourselves so that our children loved books. You could find story telling at your local library too or set up these yourself! – I’ll try putting up a separate blog about this one day! The pictures below highlight some of the activities we did for the story ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt!’ and ‘The Gruffalo!’
Age 4: Ammarah was ready to join the sounds. I knew she was! So I ordered the Julia Donaldson’s Songbirds Reading books for Phonics from the Book People at an excellent price. We started with their first level. The first book we attempted was Sam’s pot. It was tricky. We used the pictures to help but she needed more help. So I found this lovely CVC word builder book from the 99p stores! She really enjoyed matching up the images and that’s where we started to focus on sounding out. She would use tbe pictures as guides to help her connect the sounds to read the words. We found some activities online too.
A month later I decided to also order the Oxford Reading Tree Phonics Reading books – again from the Book People as I had seen they were easier to follow. Instantly Ammarah enjoyed them. She recognised the character names through the pictures and initial sounds and felt familiar with the characters repeated in each story.
Some basic things you could find/download for these to help you along the way in the activities are:
- A lot of what I used was downloaded from Twinkl or you could attempt to make it yourself. We used these reading words with pictures.
- To reinforce our learning including reading and writing we used the ‘Say it, make it and write it sheet’ by You clever monkey!
Present Day at age 4.5, we now keep a reading record and practise reading at least once a day. Ammarah enjoys reading to her dad and to her grandma when she isn’t reading to me. I think she is also proud of her achievement so in order to help us visualise it we are going through our phonics reading books one by one.
To aid her understanding of reading further – I’ve also made her aware of words that do not follow the sounding out rules – we call these the tricky words. We made a tricky word wall to recognise these words and learn them as they are! Brick Templates found on Twinkl.
Currently we are continuing to work through the phonics reading books alternating between the 2 sets of books I purchased. We make sure we ask questions at the end to check comprehension as well as use the books to find tricky words, or words beginning with the sounds we are covering that week.
I hope you found this blog post useful. Send us an update of how you’re getting along with teaching reading to your child! 🙂