How I Teach Children To Read

One of my favorite parts about being a homeschool mom, and a former elementary school teacher, is teaching little ones to read!  What a sense of accomplishment you feel when they sound out that first word, or sit and read their very first book all by themselves!  It really is amazing how they soak it all up.  I have a method of teaching children to read, and I’d love to share it with you.  Some of this is based on past experience in the classroom setting, some of it is based on my own experiences with my own children, some of it is based on research I’ve done, and finally, some of it is based on training I received on research-based reading strategies when I was a school teacher.  Obviously, all you truly NEED to teach your child to read is a book, but I also use a lot of charts/manipulatives/books that make learning easier and fun.  So, let’s get into how I teach children to read.  AND…DON’T FORGET to scroll all the way down and WATCH THE VIDEO where I explain all of what I’m going to tell you, or watch it right now HERE.


1.  Letter Recognition


I always start by teaching my youngest children to recognize letters by the letter name (Not the sound, but the name first).  Even from very early (baby), I point out letters to my children on signs, papers, books, etc.  No matter where we are, we can find letters on something.  I will point to the letter and say its name to my young ones.  Then, obviously showing them the letters using flashcards, charts, and books is a great too.  I use A Beka phonics charts, as well as ones I created here.  I also use alphabet sticks like the ones here.  We also use alphabet coloring sheets like these.  We sing songs too – I have many alphabet songs we sing, but the ABCs song that everyone knows works just fine.  My children also really like the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD.  I do MANY letter activities with my children reinforce their alphabet.  If you’d like to see specific activities, check out all my activity videos on my YouTube channel here.

2.  Every Letter Makes A Sound

IMG_20160831_132624So the next step is to tell children that now that they know all the names of their letters, they are going to learn something new about them.  I tell them that every letter makes a sound.  I also tell them that we put pictures with our letters to remind us of the sound the letter makes.  I show them by using alphabet sticks here, or alphabet flashcards here, or alphabet charts here (I also use the A Beka phonics charts).

3.  Vowels

IMG_20160902_095444Now that children know each letter makes a sound, we are ready to learn those sounds.  I teach them the vowel sounds first.  I tell them, “There are special letters called vowels.  When we read, we will see vowels most often because every word has a vowel.  We are going to learn the vowel sounds first.”  I teach them their vowel sounds with MANY different activities.  I use my A Beka vowel chart, I use these matching puzzles here (they come in handy for consonant sounds too later on), we play this beginning sound activity here, and we sing the vowel song.  It goes like this:

Vowel Song

Tune (Are You Sleeping)

a for apple

e for elephant

i for igloo

i i igloo

o for ostrich

u for umbrella

I know my vowels

a e i o u

We also begin to use my Learn To Read Leveled Fluency Pages Here (LEVEL A).  We only work on the first 5 vowel pages.  See Example:


4.  Consonants

img_20160825_232723After I teach all the vowel sounds, then we move on to consonant sounds.  We use many of the same activities as we did with the vowel sounds above (charts/flashcards/games).  If you’d like to see all of the activities we do as we go along, be sure to watch my lesson/activity videos on my youtube channel here.


5.  Blends

Now that the children know all their vowel and consonant sounds we can begin to blend them together.  I teach the children their blends by practicing A Beka Blend Ladders Book,  A Beka blend cards, these October blend cards here, and definitely my Level A Learn To Read Fluency Pages.  We do one page a day, which has four practice skills and blends.  See the example below:


6. Sounding Out Short Vowel Words and Memorizing Sight Words.

Now we are really ready to read!  I teach my children how to sound out words using a three-step-method.  I learned this method when I was a school teacher through training I received from Vanderbuilt.  They were working on some research-based initiatives to help children who were struggling and needed reading intervention.  So, I start by only using CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) short vowel words.  We use short vowel cards like these that have the picture clue first. To see the three steps to sounding out words, I did a live facebook video a while back.  It’s not the best quality because it was on facebook, but you can check it out HERE.  


Here are the three steps:

1.  Say each sound separately. (Sometimes we use objects and ,move one object as we say each sound).  

2.  Blend the sounds together (or stretch the sounds).  When you do this step, I show the children the “arrow” on the cards to remind them to start from left to right and BLEND them all together.

3.  Say the whole word.

We practice sounding out basic cvc words with many other activities too. We use the A Beka Handbook For Reading, these learn to read short vowel books here, these short vowel word books here, this read and match activity here, these short vowel word puzzles here, my making words short vowel packs (short a here, short e here, more coming soon) and I’m also working on level B of my Read and Learn Leveled Fluency pages which will include sounding out basic words.  To see many more activities we do, be sure to watch my lesson/activity videos on YouTube here.

Next, we begin to practice basic sight words.  I start with this simple pre-k sight word list here. The very first sight word I teach them is the word “the.”  Then we move on from there.  I have some A Beka flash cards that have sight words, and I have highlighter tape that we have used to highlight sight words in books.  I’m currently working on sight word activities that I will be adding to my downloads soon, as well as sight words will be in my Learn To Read Leveled Fluency Packs (starting with level B), which are coming soon!  Be sure to watch my lesson/activity videos on Youtube to see what we will be doing with sight words.

7.  Long Vowels

Now that students have mastered short vowel sounds, consonant sounds, and simple blending, we move on to learning the long vowels.  I pretty much teach these the same way as I teach the short vowels and consonants, but I tell students that magic e changes the sound.  I also tell them that when two vowels are in a word it usually says the long sound.  I have A Beka long vowel word cards that we use, as well as some A Beka books.  I am currently working on more activities and downloads for long vowels that I will be adding to my store soon, as well as my Learn To Read Leveled Fluency Packs.  Be sure to watch my lesson/activity videos on Youtube to see what we will be doing with learning long vowels.

8.  Special Sounds

Finally, I teach my children all the “special sounds” or other phonetic components they need to learn to be successful readers.  These are sounds such as digraphs, vowel teams, r-controlled vowels, diphthongs, etc.  I use A Beka special sounds cards, workbooks, etc.  I am also working on getting some activity downloads added to my store soon.  Be sure to watch my lesson/activity videos on Youtube to see what we will be doing with learning special sounds.  This stage also includes starting spelling words, and reading longer passages.




Now we can spend lots of time reading!  It is important to just read and practice, practice, practice applying all the phonics skills that the children have learned in the previous steps.  As with anything, the more they practice, the better readers they will become!



WATCH the video below for more:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s