How to Use “Is It a Word–Or Not?” to Teach Your Child to Read

Sight:     Look at the letter.
Touch:   Touch or trace the letter with a finger. 
Sound:   Say the sound the letter stands for.

I recommend beginning with the middle column or stack of flip-cards with the blue letters, the five short vowels. Cover the first and third columns with the blank cards. Have your child see, touch, and say the letter-sound of each of the vowels.

If your child doesn’t know the sound a letter stands for, he or she will understand it by looking at the keyword pictogram, the picture above the letter, and by hearing you say the sound correctly. If you are beginning with the letter ‘a,’ for example, say ‘aah’ as in ‘apple,’ not the name of the letter, ‘ay.’

You can help by sliding your child’s finger from left to right over the letter while you make the sound to model it.

After your child understands the sounds of the five vowels in the middle stack of cards, uncover the right-hand stack and have the child begin to see, touch, and say the letter sounds of the red word-ending consonants.

Now it’s time to touch two letters in sequence: start with a vowel and a word-ending consonant. See, touch, say. The sounds will blend together to be a syllable like ‘ab’ or a real two-letter word like ‘at.’ When your child does that, he or she is reading!

Next, uncover the letters in the left-hand stack, the word-beginning consonants, and begin adding them. Your child will begin to blend three letters together to make and say pretend words like ‘bab’ and real three-letter words like ‘bad.’ (All of which is good!)

Children love choosing their own letters and combinations, which makes it more fun for them.

Based on my experience with many, many children, your child will play with sounds and discover how to make lots of real words and pretend (nonsense) words. Either way, he or she is learning to put sounds together—which is essential to learning to read.

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