Lida M. Williams.

How to Teach Phonics online

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=How to Teach



Primary Supervisor and Instructor of Methods,
Northern Normal and Industrial School,


Copyright 1916, Hall & McCreary Company
P 2143
Printed in the U.S.A.


Phonics is not a method of teaching reading, but it is _a necessary
part_ of every good, modern method. It is the key to word mastery, and
word mastery is one of the first essentials in learning to read. A
knowledge of the sounds of letters, and of the effect of the position of
the letter upon its sound, is an essential means of mastering the
mechanics of reading, and of enabling children to become independent

A knowledge of phonics not only gives power to pronounce new words, but
it trains the ear, develops clear articulation and correct enunciation,
and aids in spelling. Later, when diacritical marks are introduced, it
aids in the use of the dictionary. The habit of attacking and
pronouncing words of entirely new form, develops self-confidence in the
child, and the pleasure he experiences in mastering difficulties without
help, constantly leads to new effort.

The little foreigner, greatly handicapped where reading is taught by the
word and sentence methods only, begins on an equal basis with his
American neighbor, when the "Alphabet by sound" is taught.

In recent years only has the subject of phonics found a place on the
daily school program; and there is perhaps, no other subject on the
primary program so vaguely outlined in the average teacher's mind and
therefore taught with so little system and definite purpose.

The present need is a systematic and comprehensive but simple method of
phonics teaching thruout the primary grades, that will enable any
teacher, using any good text in reading, to successfully teach the
phonetic facts, carefully grading the difficulties by easy and
consecutive steps thus preparing the pupils for independent effort in
thot getting, and opening for him the door to the literary treasures of
the ages.

It is with the hope of aiding the earnest teacher in the accomplishment
of this purpose that "How To Teach Phonics" is published.



Every sound and pedagogical method of teaching reading must include two
basic principles.

1. Reading must begin in the life of the child, with real thought
content. Whether the thought unit be a word, a sentence, or a story, it
must represent some idea or image that appeals to the child's interests
and adjusts itself to his experience.

2. It must proceed with a mastery of not only words, but of the sound
symbols of which words are composed.

The child's love for the story, his desire to satisfy a conscious need,
gives him an immediate and compelling motive for mastering the symbols,
which in themselves are of incidental and subordinate interest. While he
is learning to read, he feels that he is reading to learn and "symbols
are turned into habit."

If the child is to understand from the beginning that reading is thot
getting, we must begin with the sentence, rhyme or other language unit.
If a story is the initial step, a few well chosen sentences that tell
the heart of the story will constitute the first black board reading

The next step is the analysis of the sentence, or the study and
recognition of the individual words therein.

Finally the word is separated into its elementary sounds, the study of
the sound symbols growing out of the stock of words learned first as
purely sight words.

Following this phonic analysis comes the final step, the blending of
these phonic elements to produce new words. Thus gradually increasing
prominence is given to the discovery of new words by this
analytic-synthetic process, and less time to sight word drills, until
they are entirely omitted, except for the teaching of unphonetic words.

There should be at least two ten-minute lessons in phonics each day.
These lessons are not reading lessons and should not trespass on the
regular reading period, when thot getting and thot giving are uppermost.

While greater prominence is given to the thot phase in reading, the
technical drill and active effort in mastering the mechanical phase is
of equal importance as necessary preparation for good reading.


1. _Ear Training:_

From the first day a definite place on the program should be given to
phonics. This period, at first very short, will gradually increase to
ten, fifteen or twenty minutes.

To enable pupils to recognize words when separated into their elementary
sounds, exercises in "listening and doing," will constitute the first
step in phonics teaching. Words are sounded slowly and distinctly by the
teacher and pronounced or acted out by the pupils.


(First Day.)

c-l-a-p s-w-ee-p f-l-y
b-ow d-u-s-t r-u-n
j-u-m-p s-i-t s-l-ee-p
p-u-sh d-r-i-nk w-a-k-e
m-a-r-ch s-t-a-n-d s-t-r-e-t-ch

If at first children are not able to distinguish the words when
separated thus; s-t-a-n-d, d-r-i-n-k, blend the sound less slowly thus:
st-and, dr-ink, gradually increasing the difficulty to st-an-d, d-r-ink,
and finally to the complete analysis.

These ear training exercises should continue until a "phonetic sense" is
established. Not all children can readily blend sounds and "hear the
word." Patient drill for weeks, even months, may be necessary before a
sense of phonetic values is attained. Haphazard and spasmodic work is
fatal to progress; but a few minutes of brisk, lively drill, given
regularly each day will accomplish wonders.

The exercises should be varied from day to day to insure active interest
and effort.

_Second Day:_

Touch your n-o-se; your ch-ee-k; your ch-i-n; l-i-p-s; k-n-ee; f-oo-t;
b-oo-k; p-e-n-c-i-l; d-e-s-k; sh-o-e; d-r-e-ss, etc.

_Third Day:_

Place a number of toys in a basket. Pupils find as the teacher sounds
the name of each, saying: "Find the t-o-p"; "the s-p-oo-l;" "the
d-o-ll"; "the h-o-r-n"; etc.

_Fourth Day:_

Sound the names of pupils in class; or names of animals; colors, fruits,
places, etc.

_Fifth Day:_

R-u-n to m-e.
C-l-a-p your h-a-n-d-s.
W-a-v-e the f-l-a-g.
Cl-o-se the d-oo-r.
F-o-l-d your a-r-m-s.
B-r-i-n-g m-e a r-e-d b-a-ll.
B-ou-n-ce the b-a-ll.
Th-r-ow the b-a-ll to Fr-e-d.
R-i-n-g the b-e-ll.
H-o-p to m-e.
S-i-t in m-y ch-air.
R-u-n to the ch-ar-t.
S-i-n-g a s-o-n-g.
B-r-i-n-g me the p-oin-t-er.
B-o-w to m-e.
F-l-y a k-i-t-e.
S-w-ee-p the fl-oo-r.
R-o-c-k the b-a-b-y.
W-a-sh your f-a-ce.
D-u-s-t the ch-air-s.
Sh-a-k-e the r-u-g.
F-ee-d the h-e-n-s.
C-a-ll the ch-i-ck-s.
M-i-l-k the c-ow.
Ch-o-p w-oo-d.
R-ow a b-oa-t.
B-l-ow the h-o-r-n.

The pupil should now begin sounding words for himself, at first, if need
be, repeating the sounds after the teacher, then being encouraged to
attempt them alone. He will soon be able to "spell by sound" names of
common objects in the room, as well as easy and familiar words dictated
by the teacher.

II. _Teach the Single Consonant Sounds._

b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s (as in see), v, w, g (hard), c
(hard), and qu as in queer.

Teach but one sound for each letter at first. Nothing need be said at
this time about the fact that some letters have more than one sound.
When words like "city" or "gem" occur simply explain that sometimes "c"
or "g" has this sound, (giving the soft sound), but continue in the
phonic drill to teach the sounds that will be needed first - those most
often met in the early reading. The sounds of initial s and y are taught
first, rather than final y and s; q is taught with the u - qu (as in
quiet, queer, quick) not q alone.

The sounds must be given distinctly and correctly by the teacher, and
she should insist on perfect responses. Good reading is impossible
without clear and distinct articulation.

1. _Analyze Known Words in Teaching the Consonant Sounds._

For the first lesson teach perhaps two consonant sounds. Suppose the
words "ball" and "red" are chosen to be analyzed as words familiar to
the class. (Selected from the reading lessons as the ones best known and
most easily remembered.)

Write "b all" on the board, and pointing to the separated parts, sound
slowly several times. Pupils repeat. Teacher say, "Show the letter that
says 'b.' The part that says 'all.' Write "b" under "ball" thus:

b all

Pupil sound "b" several times, as it is written elsewhere on the black

Proceed with "red" in the same way. Keep these two forms,

b all r ed
b r

before the class, asking frequently for the sounds until thoroly fixed
in mind.

For the second lesson, review "b" and "r" and teach one or two new
consonants. It is better to have short and frequent lessons at first,
than to present too many sounds at once, resulting in confusion.

Suppose "c" is to be taught next and the type word chosen is "cup." It
is not necessary to teach the consonants in the order in which they
occur in the alphabet, - it will depend rather upon the occurrence in the
primer of the words chosen for type words. Write the word "cup." Pupils
recognize it at once as a sight word, and pronounce. Rewrite it,
separating it thus, c up, and let the pupils make an effort to sound the
parts alone. If they fail, sound it for them asking them to repeat it
after you. Proceed as with "ball" and "red," being sure that each one
gives the sound correctly.

(1.) After teaching "c" say, "Who can find a word on the chart beginning
with this sound?" "In your books?" "on the blackboard?" the pupil
sounding the letter as he points to it.

(2) Say, "I'm thinking of another word beginning with "c." "It is
something Grandpa uses in walking." (Cane.) "I'm thinking of something
sweet that you like to eat." (Cake) (Candy) "Of the name of someone in
this class." (Clara) (Carl) "A little yellow bird." (Canary) "You think
of a word beginning with that sound." "Another." "Another."

2. _Begin At Once Applying Knowledge of the Sounds Learned._

As new words are met containing known sounds, the pupils should apply
their knowledge of phonics. For example, if the word "catch" appears,
the pupils sound "c," the teacher pronouncing "atch" underlining that
part of the word as she tells it, - the pupil puts these sounds together
and discovers the new word for himself. If the new word is "cab," the
only help from the teacher is the short sound of "a". This given the
pupil sounds "a" and "b" slowly; then faster, until the result of the
blended sounds is "ab." Combine "c" with "ab" in the same manner until
by the blending of the sounds the word is recognized. Only such help
should be given, as will enable the pupil to help himself.

"Ball," "red" and "cup" now become type words with which "b" "r" and "c"
are associated respectively, and from which the pupil gets his "cue" if
he fails to give the sound of the letter at sight. Thus all the
consonants are taught, from suitable sight words which the child has
already learned. They need not however, be the ones given here, - for "b"
it may be "baby," "ball," "boy," or "box," but let it be a word familiar
to the class and easily remembered. For "d" it may be "doll," "day," or
"dog;" for "y", "you", "yellow", etc.

The teacher should previously go through the text and select the words
she wishes to use as type words in teaching the consonant sounds.

3. _First Steps in Writing and Spelling._

As each consonant sound is taught its written form may be learned. On
rough manila paper, using waxed crayons, make copies of the letters
about two inches in height, for each pupil. At his desk the child traces
with his fore finger, going over the smooth path again and again - thus
developing psycho-motor co-ordination. Each time the letter is traced,
the pupil sounds it softly, and as soon as he is sure of the form, runs
to the board and writes it.

The writing at first may be entirely at the blackboard, where the
teacher's copy may be reproduced. For the slower ones who have
difficulty with the form, a good practice is to "write it in the air,"
the pupil pointing with index finger and following the teacher as she
writes, also tracing the teacher's copy with pointer, using free, rapid
movement. (Tracing with crayon or pencil tends to slow, cramped writing,
and should not be encouraged.) Thus when the forms of the letters are
learned and associated with the sound, the pupils are able to write
phonetic words from dictation as well as to "spell by sound."

4. _Consonant Drill._

(1) With a rubber pen, a set of type, or with black crayola, and
cardboard, a set of consonant cards may be made, one for each sound. On
one side of the card is written or printed the type word with the
consonant sound below; on the other side, the consonant alone, thus:

- - - - - - -
|b all | | b |
|b | | B |
- - - - - - -

The number of cards will increase each day as new sounds are learned.
Rapid daily drill with these cards is most valuable in associating
instantly the sound with its symbol and should be continued until every
child knows every sound. After the analysis the side of the card
containing only the consonant should be used for the drill. But if the
pupil fails to give the right sound, or is unable to give any sound at
all, the card should be reversed and he readily gets the right sound
from the word.

Other devices for teaching the consonants are sometimes used by
successful teachers who do not use the type-words and cards. For
instance, the letter may be associated with its sound in this way: - The
clock says "t"; the angry cat, "f"; the cow says "m"; etc. The
difficulty here is to find suitable symbols for each sound. If, for
example, the sounds of "l", "v" and "sh" are represented by a spinning
wheel, a buzz saw, and a water wheel respectively, and if the child is
not familiar with these symbols, they will not call up a definite sound
in his mind; but if "l" is taught from "little," "sh" from "sheep," and
"v" from "very", (or other familiar words,) there can be no uncertainty
and no time need be spent by the child in laboring to retain and
associate the sounds with unfamiliar symbols.

Not the method, but the motive, is the essential thing. What we want is
that every child should know the consonants thoroly. Get the _motive_,
then use the method that brings the best results with the least
expenditure of time and energy.

(2) For variety in reviewing and fixing the consonant sounds, give
frequent dictation exercises.

a. With all the consonants on the board, the teacher sounds any
consonant, the pupil finds and repeats the sound as he points it out. As
the teacher points, pupils sound, occasionally in concert, and in
individual recitation of the entire list. Individual work should
predominate, to make sure that the pupil is giving the correct sound and
putting forth independent effort.

b. Pupils write sounds as teacher dictates. If a pupil fails to recall
and write the form, the teacher may pronounce the type word and ask the
pupil to sound the initial consonant (tell the first sound in the word).
To illustrate: The teacher pronounces "cup", pupils sound "c", then
write it. If they have mastered the written forms they will enjoy this

Children soon acquire the ability and become possessed of the desire to
write whole words. Then the teacher should direct this effort, teaching
the child to visualize (get a picture of the word as a whole) and write
short, simple words.

5. _Blending._

When a number of consonant sounds are mastered, practice in blending may
begin. When the need arises - when words are met which begin with a
combination of consonants the blends are taught, e.g., bright - b,
r, - br, br ight, bright. f, l, - fl, fl ower, flower. Keep a separate set
of cards for these blends - and drill upon them as the list grows.

(br, pl, fl, sl, cr, gl, gr, bl, cl, fr, pr, st, tr, str, sp, sw, tw,

gr ow dr aw pl ay
s ky sm all sl ay
fl ower cr ow st ay
st and cl ean fr ay
gl ass pr ay tr ay
br own sp in str ay
bl ue sw ing sl ow
st ore sl ack bl ow
tr ack dw arf gl ow

The teacher must pronounce the syllables that the children have, as yet,
no power to master, e.g., with the word "grow", (1) the children will
blend g and r, gr; (2) teacher pronounces "ow"; (3) children blend "gr"
and "ow" until they recognise "grow."

Teach also the digraphs sh, ch, th, wh, as they are met in the common
words in use: when, they, chick, etc.

sh eep ch ick wh at th at
sh ell ch ild wh en th is
sh y ch air wh y th ese
sh ore ch ill wh ere th ose
sh ine ch erry wh ich th ere
sh ow ch ildren th en th eir
sh e ch urch th ey th ey
sh all ch ase
sh ould ch est

III. _Teach the Short Vowels._

Since more than 60 per cent of the vowels are short, and since short
vowels outnumber long vowels by about four to one, they are taught
first. Teach one vowel at a time by combining with the known consonants.
And what fun it is, when short "a" is introduced, to blend it with the
consonants and listen to discover "word sounds." Henceforth the children
will take delight in "unlocking" new words, without the teacher's help.
She will see to it, of course, that the words are simple and purely
phonetic at first; as:

c-a-n, can h-a-d, had
c-a-p, cap m-a-t, mat
c-a-t, cat m-a-n, man
r-a-t, rat f-a-n, fan
h-a-t, hat s-a-t, sat

Whole "families" are discovered by placing the vowel with the initial or
the final consonants, thus:

ca n r at f an
ca p h at an d
ca t c at s an d
ca b b at st an d
ma t f at l an d
ma n s at b an d

The children will enjoy forming all the families possible with the known

_Short "a" Families or Phonograms._

at an ap ad ack ag and r ang b ank
b at c an c ap h ad b ack b ag b and s ang r ank
c at m an g ap l ad h ack f ag h and b ang s ank
f at p an l ap m ad J ack j ag l and h ang t ank
m at t an m ap g ad l ack l ag s and f ang bl ank
p at r an n ap b ad p ack n ag st and cl ang cr ank
N at f an r ap c ad r ack r ag gr and spr ang dr ank
s at b an s ap f ad s ack s ag br and Fr ank
r at D an t ap p ad t ack t ag str and pl ank
h at N an tr ap s ad st ack w ag th ank
th at V an str ap gl ad sl ack st ag
sn ap br ad tr ack br ag
wr ap bl ack dr ag

After a little drill in analyzing the words of a family, (sounding the
consonant and phonogram separately) they should be pronounced at sight,
analyzing the word only when the pupil fails in pronunciation.

The teacher's chart of phonograms as she works it out for herself may be
something like this.

[(a] [)e] i [)o] [)u]
at et it ot ut
ack ed ick ock ub
ad en id od uck
ag est ig og ug
an end im op um
ap edge in ong un
and ent ip oss uff
ang ess ift ung
ank ell ing unk
ash ink ump
amp ill ush

While this gives the teacher a working chart, it is neither necessary
nor advisable that the above order be always followed in teaching the
phonograms and sounding series of words, nor that they be systematically
completed before other phonograms found in the words of the reading
lessons are taught. Such phonograms as "ound" from "found", "un" from
"run", "ight" from "bright", "est" from "nest", "ark" from "lark", etc.,
may be taught as soon as these sight words are made a part of the
child's reading vocabulary.

f ound r un br ight
ound un ight
s ound f un m ight
r ound s un r ight
gr ound b un f ight
b ound g un fr ight
p ound n un l ight
f ound r un s ight
h ound s un sl ight
ar ound st un n ight

n est l ark c atch
est ark atch
b est d ark h atch
l est b ark m atch
p est m ark m atch
r est h ark b atch
t est p ark l atch
v est sp ark p atch
w est st ark th atch
cr est sh ark scr atch
ch est sn atch
gu est

Attention is not called here to the various vowel sounds, but the
complete phonogram is taught at sight.

_Short "e" Phonograms._

bed h en b end b ent
fed d en l end c ent
led p en m end d ent
n ed m en s end l ent
r ed B en t end s ent
Fr ed t en bl end r ent
sh ed wr en sp end t ent
sl ed th en tr end w ent
bl ed wh en sp ent
gl en

edge B ess b ell sh ell
h edge l ess c ell sm ell
l edge bl ess s ell sp ell
s edge ch ess t ell sw ell
w edge dr ess f ell dw ell
pl edge pr ess n ell
sl edge gu ess w ell

_Short "i" Phonograms._

D ick s ick cl ick th ick
k ick t ick qu ick tr ick
l ick w ick sl ick
p ick br ick st ick

b id p ig d im p in th in
d id b ig h im t in tw in
h id f ig J im b in
k id d ig r im f in
l id r ig T im s in
r id w ig tr im w in
sl id tw ig br im ch in
sk id sk im gr in
sl im sk in
sw im sp in

d ip l ift s ing p ink b ill
h ip g ift k ing l ink f ill
l ip s ift r ing m ink h ill
n ip dr ift w ing s ink J ill
r ip sh ift br ing w ink k ill
s ip sw ift cl ing bl ink m ill
t ip thr ift sl ing br ink p ill
ch ip st ing dr ink t ill
cl ip str ing ch ink w ill
sl ip spr ing cl ink ch ill
dr ip sw ing shr ink sp ill
gr ip th ing th ink st ill
sh ip wr ing tr ill
sk ip
tr ip
str ip
wh ip

_Short "o" Phonograms._

B ob n od c ock d og
c ob p od l ock h og
r ob r od r ock l og
s ob h od s ock f og
m ob c od m ock fr og
j ob cl od bl ock c og
f ob pl od cl ock j og
kn ob tr od cr ock cl og
thr ob sh od fl ock
kn ock
st ock

h op t op sh op
m op st op sl op
l op dr op pr op
s op cr op

s ong l oss
l ong t oss
d ong R oss
g ong m oss

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Online LibraryLida M. WilliamsHow to Teach Phonics → online text (page 1 of 3)