Sunday, July 11, 2010

New phonics material

A couple of years ago I put up on the Internet a first set of phonics lessons for beginning readers, along with some instructions for starting to teach your child to read. Here is my post on that, which I see is almost exactly two years old.

I now have a huge amount of additional phonics material available here. It begins with quite easy lessons, and most of the first one hundred pages or so are hand written. (Some of these were small pages from a tablet, so it isn't quite as impressive as it sounds. Still, I'm impressed looking back at how much was hand written. Don't know quite why I didn't start typing sooner.)

The lessons get quite advanced as they go on, teaching complex phonics concepts like words ending in -tial, hard and soft c and g, and many more. There are, unfortunately, no supplementary materials such as instructions or even a table of contents. It's just the lessons themselves. You have to browse for what you need. One suggestion for browsing would be using the underlying OCR layer to search for a word that has the phonics idea you need to drill, though this won't work on the handwritten portions.

The lessons are obviously written for my own children and sometimes refer to specific family situations and so forth. Parents who want to use the material might have to skip some of that or adapt it, unless you just want to use it as drill as you would with any material that uses unfamiliar names and situations.

I'm proudest of the stories in this big document. With a very few exceptions (toward the end) these stories were written by me (occasionally adapted from other things I have read), and nearly every story drills or reviews a phonics concept. Sometimes this leads to stiltedness in the prose, but looking back from the distance of a decade, I'm surprised at my own energy and ingenuity.

Here, for example (from pp. 122-123 of 327 total), is a fairy tale that drills single and double consonants before suffixes (for example, filling, filed, stopping, hoping). With apologies to lots of other stories, including the stories of Pandora, Psyche, Cinderella, the fairy tale version of "Beauty and the Beast" (not the movie), and probably others I'm not thinking of. I think I called the girl "Marie" because my reader at that time was having trouble distinguishing "Marie" and "Maria." (I also notice now that for most of these I wasn't observing the requirement to start a new paragraph for every new speaker in a dialogue.)

Once upon a time there was a lovely little girl named Marie who lived with her wicked stepmother. Her father and mother had died, and Marie's stepmother made her work hard all day, filling buckets of water and scrubbing the floors. If she did not do the work fast enough, she was whipped and put in a dark room in chains. Marie was very unhappy, but she kept hoping that she would be free some day.

One day, while she was sitting in a small room, wiping tears from her eyes, a little mouse came in carrying a file which he had stolen from the kitchen. He began sawing away at her bonds. Finally he had filed them loose, and Marie was free. The mouse led her quietly out of the house and into the woods. Suddenly, when Marie looked, the mouse was gone. At first she was frightened, but then she saw a robin looking at her very brightly. "Can you help me?" she asked the robin. It said nothing, but it pointed the way with its wing and then flew in front of her.

At last, she arrived at a golden house in the middle of the wood. Marie went up to the door and rang the bell, but no one she could see carne to the door. The door opened, and invisible hands led her inside. They took her into a room with a long table, filled with all sorts of food, and helped her to sit down. Marie began to get the feeling that she was not alone. The room appeared empty, but soon, someone spoke. "You cannot see me, but I am the master of this house. I am a prince, and I am under a spell. Your wicked stepmother is a witch who has also enchanted me, so that I am invisible. Only if you will go on a long journey can I be freed." "What must I do?" said Marie. "You must take this golden box, without saying a word to anyone, and without opening it, and carry it through the woods to the good fairy of the lake."

Marie picked up the box and carried it away. But the task was hard. The wood was scary; it was full of matted thorns, and bats which hated people and flew at her. Once she met an old woman who tried to talk to her, and once a man who looked kind asked her where she was going, but she remembered what the prince had said and refused to say a word. sometimes she found herself scraping away clinging vines in order to make her way. Sometimes she stopped and rested, but she never gave up. And sometimes she wished she knew what was in the box, but she never opened it.

And at last, the wood was behind her and a beautiful lake was in front of her. And there, beside the lake, was a lovely woman who could only be the good fairy of the lake. Taking the box from Marie, the fairy said, "My child, you have fulfilled the task which was laid on you. Now I shall open the box, and both you and the prince will be free forever." The fairy opened the box, and a sweet smell filled the air. Suddenly, the prince was standing beside Marie, now visible. He kissed her and said, "Your wicked stepmother, the witch, is dead, because you were faithful. Now you shall be my queen."

And they lived happily ever after.

I hope there are some parents out there who will find the material useful, despite the need for browsing. I've been wanting for a long time to get it preserved electronically. The problem was that much of it was hand written and, beyond that, the old floppy disks containing all the typed lessons have been misplaced. My heartfelt thanks to Jason Thueme for the scanning job and to Tim McGrew for help with the scanning, for the use of his fancy scanner, and for the underlying OCR layer.


Robert Kunda said...

Thanks Lydia!

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