There are several essential pre-reading skills that a child needs to know before he reads his first book. A child needs to:
- know alphabet sounds
- hold continuous sounds
- clip stop sounds
- blend during phonemic awareness activities
There are many phonics units a child needs to learn in k-1.
Letters make multiple sounds. For example, “a” can say “a_’ as in “hat” “ai” as in “sail” and “au” as in “haul.” This leads educators to believe the code is all over the place. It is not. The English code has more phonics units than other European languages. However, the code, though it takes much longer to learn than say the Swedish code, is surprisingly consistent. The above digraphs “ai” and “au” are digraphs that a child should learn in first grade. In the beginning, a child should just learn “a_” as in “hat” and proceed through the code one step at a time.
Our step-by-step printable phonics books help kids learn the most common phonics sounds.
There are 44 English phonemes in total. Start with the alphabet.
What are the alphabet sounds?
In the beginning, teach your child one sound per letter. Here are the alphabet sounds to teach a beginner:
a as in apple
b as in bat
c as in cat
d as in dog
e as in elephant
f as in frog
g as in goat
h as in hat
i as in igloo
j as in jaguar
k as in kangaroo
l as in lion
m as in monkey
n as in nest
o as in octopus
p as in panda
q as in queen
r as in rhinoceros
s as in snow
t as in turtle
u as in umbrella
v as in violin
w as in wing
x as in fox
y as in yak
z as in zebra
To start reading a cvc book, your student needs to know the above alphabet sounds.
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Teach your child to hold continuous sounds.
When teaching alphabet sounds, it’s important to distinguish between two types of sounds: stop sounds and continuous sounds. Continuous sounds can be prolonged without any distortion to the sound, such as the sounds “mmmmm” and “sssss”. For beginning readers, learning continuous sounds is crucial for unlocking words with greater ease. Unlike stop sounds, moving from one continuous sound to another requires no interruption, making it simpler to blend and decode words.
For instance, the word “Sam” is made up entirely of continuous sounds, which makes it easier for beginning readers to decode than a word like “big,” which starts and ends with stop sounds. To teach continuous sounds, encourage your students to hold each sound for at least 2-3 seconds and point out how the sound remains constant throughout. This will help them apply continuous sounds when reading.
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Teach your child to clip stop sounds.
Stop sounds, unlike continuous sounds, should be pronounced quickly, as they cannot be sustained for long periods without adding an “uh” sound at the end. If stop sounds are held for too long, the sound eventually changes. For instance, take the letter sound “g”. When held for 2-3 seconds, adding an “uh” sound is inevitable.
It’s essential to teach students to remove the “uh” sound when they say stop sounds. During letter recognition practice, ensure that your students keep their stop sounds short and do not try to hold them for too long, as this will inevitably lead to the addition of the “uh” sound. Adding this sound can cause difficulty when decoding words and result in the mispronunciation of words like “dig” as “dug” or “dog.”
Therefore, make sure your students learn to clip off the “uh” sound when pronouncing stop sounds for letters such as b, c, d, g, h, j, k, p, q, t, w, and y. This will help them decode words with less frustration and greater accuracy.
Holding continuous sounds and clipping stop sounds are essential pre-reading skills.
Blending is another important pre-reading skill.
Teach your child how to blend sounds during phonemic awareness activities. There is no text involved. Simply elongate continuous sounds, clip stop sounds, and say cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words slowly (ex. sssss-aaaaa-t). Then, see if your child knows what the word is. This activity is called blending. During blending, the child listens to the sounds of the word in order and then blends the sounds together to come up with the word. Here are some words you can say slowly to your child. Next, see if your child can say the word:
The child should identify the words as: get, Sam, pal, him and man. These phonemic awareness blending activities prepare kids to blend words while they read phonics books.
Thus, blending is a critical pre-reading skill.
In sum, make sure your beginner has the following pre-reading skills so she can begin reading cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) phonics stories:
- knowledge of alphabet sounds
- ability to hold continuous sounds
- ability to clip stop sounds
- can blend during phonemic awareness activities