Teaching Levels - One Through Five
Level One - Learning The Alphabet, Readiness
- Students learn to recognize the letters of the alphabet and associate them with the sounds they represent. They listen to the teacher read a sound story aloud. The story contains pictures that represent all of the sounds in the English language. Students learn the sound for each picture and the capital and lower case letter that represents each sound.
- To develop pencil skills and eye-hand coordination, students complete one or two picture pages before learning the letter formation each new letter. They trace shapes or lines or add their own on the picture page, using the strokes that will needed to write the next letter introduced.
- To get a feel for the letter formation for each new letter, students trace large and small alphabet letters in their books while saying their sounds. Students at this level are not expected to write the letters independently. Students study the letters that are easiest to write first. Letters that are more challenging to write and letters that are less commonly used in words are taught later. After learning to form the basic strokes while studying the first letters, students will be better able to combine those strokes to form the more complicated letters that are taught later. The letters are taught in this order: T t, I i, H h, L l, N n, W w, U u, B b, M m, R r, F f, X x, E e, S s, J j, O o, C c, D d, A a, V v, G g, P g, K k, Y y, Qu, qu, Z z.
- Each day students review the sound for all of the letters they have learned from both sound charts and sound cards. The sound charts show the alphabet letters with the associated sound pictures. If students forget a letter or sound, the teacher models the sound for them. Then the students repeat. It is not necessary for students to master every letter before continuing with the following lessons.
- Students are introduced to the concept of beginning and ending sounds and rhyming words using picture pages in their books.
- Students do easy oral blending exercises, in which they listen to individual syllables or sounds and put them together mentally to form words. And they do easy segmenting exercises in which they listen to words and break them apart into their individual sounds. The oral blending and rhyming exercises are done using picture pages.
- Students play a variety of table games with the teacher to help them remember each letter and the sound it represents.
- Students listen to the teacher read eight print awareness lessons aloud.
- The teacher reads aloud to the students daily from a variety of appropriate children's trade books, obtained separately.
Click here for more information about level one.
Level Two - Exploring Sounds In Words, Advanced Readiness
- Students study each letter of the alphabet, one at at time, in the same order as described above.
- Students practice letter formation by tracing and copying large and small letters on lined pages in their books. They also practice writing letters on separate lined paper when given the letter sounds.
- Students do more advanced oral blending and segmenting exercises and continue rhyming exercises, using picture pages.
- Students write letters to show the beginning and ending sounds in spoken words, using picture pages. They also learn to hear and identify the medial short vowel sound.
- Students learn to pronounce two-letter combinations consisting of a single short vowel and a single consonant, for example ab, ac, ad, af and ba, ca, da, fa. There are practice pages in the student books. There is also a set of consonant strips with moveable vowel cards to practice the same skill with a group. And students can play a game with the teacher in small groups to practice pronouncing the two-letter combinations. These activities are used with students at the short vowel level, too. They are particularly helpful at level three with students who are not yet able to decode short vowel words.
- Students begin spelling short vowel words with plastic letters during a rotating small group period with the teacher. Before attempting to spell the words, students build two-letter combinations pronounced by the teacher, for example ab, ac, ad, af and ba, ca, da, fa. Only short vowel sounds are used. Instructions are included in the student books.
- The teacher reads aloud to the students daily from a variety of appropriate children's trade books, obtained separately.
Click here for more information about level two.
Level 3 - Short Vowel Words And Sentences
- After learning the alphabet students begin spelling and reading short vowel words. For each set of words, students spell the words first, then they read them. Mastering short vowel words prepares students to be successful at the next level, in which they learn to spell and read words with all of the common phonics patterns and syllable patterns.
- To spell a short vowel word, students say each sound in the word, one sound at a time, starting with the beginning sound and going in order. As they say each sound, they write the letters that represent those sounds, going from left to right. This is a multisensory approach in which students listen carefully to the word, pronounce each sound vocally, hear themselves say the sound, and simultaneously write the letter, seeing each letter as they write it. Using many senses at once in this way provides a powerful boost to student learning. Notice that students do not say the letter names as they spell phonetic words. Saying the letter names is a distraction that make it more difficult for students to analyze the phonetic structure of the word.
- As they study short a words and short i words, students learn six sight words (as, has, a, was, is, his, I). This allows them to begin reading simple sentences.
- It is important for students to develop solid handwriting skills as they work through the short vowel level. If students in first grade are starting a new school year, they should receive explicit handwriting instruction for each alphabet letter during the first few weeks. Use either the letter sized, legal sized, or ledger sized manuscript handwriting books. You could also use any of the separate level one or two handwriting books if needed. Directions are included in the books. Those students who have previously not mastered manuscript handwriting will have a chance to catch up. The advantage of this approach is that students will be able to complete written assignments quickly and confidently with legible handwriting for the rest of the school year.
- At the short vowel level students learn a few sight words in which some of the letters have unexpected sounds: a, was, as, has, is, his, I. This allows them to begin reading and writing simple sentences with short vowel words
- Students continue to practice pronouncing two-letter vowel-consonant and consonant-vowel combinations, as in ab, ac, ad, af, ag, and ba, ca, da, fa, ga. The short vowel sound is used in all letter combinations. This exercise helps students learn to put the letter sounds together smoothly when they pronounce them. Some students have trouble putting three letter sounds together. Starting with just two sounds prepares students to begin reading three-sound words.
- There are several different short vowel books. The parent or teacher can pick the book or books that best fit the student or students. Some of the books have more lessons. These books are suitable for beginners who need lots of practice. Other books have fewer lessons. These can be used to review short vowel words at the beginning of a new school year before going on to the next instructional level.
- Three of the books have color-coded vowels and ten new words in each lesson. The words are placed on the right hand page of the book, and the matching pictures are placed on the left hand page. The pictures are not in the same order as the words. This allows the teacher and the students to play a "robot game." First the teacher segments the sounds for each word "like a robot" (says each sound individually, with a slight pause in between each sound). For each word, students put the sounds together mentally and find the matching picture. Next, the teacher segments the sounds for the pictures. This time students listen to the sounds for each picture and find the matching word. Last, students read each new word going down and back up the column.
- The Basic Short Vowels book is in a different format. The words are printed in all black print. Students still spell ten words in each lesson, but the word lists are longer. Each word is illustrated with a small picture.
- Two of the short vowel books, Basic Short Vowels and Color-Coded Short Vowel Lists, have both rhyming and body-coda (words that begin with the same letters) lists of short vowel words. Reading both types of lists is especially helpful for students who are having trouble "gluing the sounds together" when they pronounce short vowel words.
- At the short vowel level, students focus on reading and spelling short vowel words only, with the exception of the seven introduced sight words. This gives students time to practice their spelling and decoding skills until they gain confidence reading short vowel words. In some ways, this is the most difficult part of the program. Students practice reading many different short vowel words so that they will learn to pronounce all the possible consonant-vowel and vowel-consonant combinations found in short vowel words. Patient perseverance at this level will prepare students to do very well when they begin the next instructional level.
- At the short vowel level, students learn to read and spell words with the suffix _s used after nouns and verbs. They also learn how to read and spell words that end with apostrophe s: the cat's mat, mom's pan, Bob's box.
- The teacher continues to read aloud to the students from appropriate children's books daily.
Click here for more information about level three.
Level Four - Phonics Patterns, Phonetic Words And Stories
- At level four, students learn the basic phonics patterns and syllable patterns. The patterns are presented in a logical sequence to help students master them quickly. Patterns of the same type are taught close together. There is a sequence of eight books at level four.
- Students study one new phonics pattern or syllable pattern each day. This allows them to progress rapidly without the confusion of trying to learn two patterns at once. They are able to focus on the new pattern.
- For each new pattern students spell and read at least ten new words per day. This allows them to become very familiar with the pattern so that they can apply it easily when reading and writing. They also write a dictated sentence that contains at least one of the new words. The spelling technique is the same as the method for short vowel words. Students say the individual sounds in each word, writing the related letter or letter pattern as each sound is spoken.
- Students review the patterns that have been taught daily from sound charts and sound cards. They also write a selection of new and review patterns from dictation at the beginning of each spelling period.
- Any word that contains a letter or pattern that doesn't represent its usual sound is taught as a sight word. Sight words are taught as exceptions to phonics patterns that have already been taught. For example, after students study words with the long ee pattern in words like feet, see, and weed, they are introduced to the sight word been. The teacher shows the students that the ee pattern in the word been represents the short i sound, /i/, as in win. The word is a rule breaker.
- Many of the words taught at level four are high frequency words. As long as these words are phonetic, they are taught as part of the regular lesson. They don't need to be taught as sight words. This saves valuable teaching time.
- As they progress, students read easy decodable practice stories, included in the student books, to apply the patterns they have learned.
- Students also read eleven easy children's trade books, obtained from a bookstore or a library. The practice stories and trade books are listed on the sequence chart for each book. The trade books are only introduced after students have studied all of the patterns they need to know in order to read them. This makes each of the books decodable by the students.
- Students read and spell words with these suffix patterns: dogs, runs, jumped, jumping, jogged, jogging, quickly, hoped, hoping.
- Students learn to read and spell a number of different contractions.
- At level four, there are three sets of books in three different formats. Each set teach the same phonics patterns, with the same illustrated practice stories, in the same sequence.
- The Phonetic Words And Stories books have large color-coded print. Students spell and read ten new word for each new pattern. The words and pictures are on facing pages so that the teacher and students can play the "robot game" as described in the short vowel section. These books work particularly well with young students and older students who are still working to master the phonetic nature of the language.
- The Basic Phonics Patterns books have all black print. There are more than ten new words for each pattern. A small illustration is shown beside each word. Easy to read sentences are included in addition to the practice stories.
- The Know The Phonetic Code books have all black print. Students read both one and two-syllable words for most new patterns. The word lists are not illustrated. These books will be useful as a review for older students.
Click here for more information about level four.
Level Five - Advanced Phonics Patterns, Phonetic Words And Sentences Integrated With Children's Trade Books
- After learning all of the common phonics patterns and syllable patterns at level four, students study the less common phonics patterns at level five.
- Students also study advanced ending syllables, which must be learned as a whole, as in tion/addition and ture/nature.
- Students practice reading words with less common beginning and ending consonant blends, while reviewing the beginning and ending blends that have been taught.
- Students practice reading words with many new suffixes and prefixes.
- At level five, students read a new set of words for each pattern, along with a set of sentences. The teacher introduces the words to the students one at a time, pronouncing the word, explaining its meaning, and pointing out any parts in the word that are not intuitively clear. The words are marked to help students analyze the vowel patterns in each syllable and overall structure of the words. Then students practice reading the words and sentences.
- At level five, the Know The Phonetic Code books can be used to review previous phonics patterns. Some older books are available that cover both level four and level five patterns in the same book. See the PDF files available at level five.
- As they work through the advanced level, students will be able to read eighty-one children's picture books, from the first through fourth grade level, available from the library or bookstores. The books are integrated into the instructional sequence. Each new book is introduced when students have learned enough patterns to read the entire book phonetically. The books are arranged in a specific order so that all of the words in them will be decodable, using only the phonetic patterns that students have learned.
Click here for more information about level five.
Click PDF Files to see links to PDF files for all of the Sound City Reading books and teaching materials.