How To Help Your Child Learn and Use The Phonics Alphabet

This site is all about providing you and your child with free reading games and tips that will help you teach or support your student in learning how to read. Because of that this site revolves around the phonics alphabet. While, I’m always adding resources to this site to help you support your reader, I also want you to know about other great resources out there that will help you in your child’s reading journey. There are a lot of ways  for your child to learn to read online, but all of their learning shouldn’t be done on the internet. But since they’re going to be online anyway, you want to make sure that they are using their time wisely. The trick is to combine what they’re doing online and in the classroom (or at home or in daycare or in an educational center).

That’s what we’ll talk about here. How to teach the phonics alphabet, using online and offline resources.

In this post you will learn…..

  • – How to help your child learn alphabet sounds
  • – How to help your reader learn blending
  • – Resources that will help you teach these skills online and offline.

Use this site as a resource for you to teach your child the phonics alphabet and the words that they can make with it

I’m going to be selfish and start with my own website. This site was started with the intention to be a completely free resource for parents to be able to teach their children to learn how to read. I’ll always keep adding resources and it will always be free for you to use. Right now this site is all

 about learning phonics, which starts with the phonics alphabet. Not just memorizing words or reinforcing what was done in class, but actually learning the sounds that need to be learned to read.

Learning and Using the Phonics Alphabet: Start With Mastering the 26 Phonics Sounds

Whether your kid is a 3 year old with ambitious parents who wants them to start early, or a struggling fourth or fifth grader (almost half of 

them are below grade level in reading), you need to make sure that they have mastered the basic 26 phonics alphabet sounds. These are “a is for apple”, “b is for bat”, “c is for cat” and so on. These are the foundation of reading, which means if your reader hasn’t mastered them, then reading will always be difficult.

On this site you can go here to help your child learn these basic letter sounds. They should practice them over and over again. I recommend

 breaking the alphabet into groups. I prefer 6 groups (msat, bfox, henrd, cupz, wigjl, and vqky). You can break the alphabet up into any combination of groups, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that your reader can make words from these groups. For example your reader can learn the sounds to msat and then make the words mat, sat, sam, at, and am. And boom, they’re reading already or reinforcing the letters of the phonics alphabet that  they have already learned.

Click on the picture to see the alphabet group book 

Learning and Using the Phonics Alphabet: Put the Alphabet into Groups

That’s how this site teaches letter sounds….one group at a time.  Pay close attention because you can use this same technique at home, off the internet.

  • -1.  First, your reader learns the letter sounds for 1 group.
  • -2.  Then they make words from those letters.
  • – 3. Next, they move on to the next group of letters, and make words, and keep going until them have finished the entire alphabet.

Even when a reader moves on to the next group of letters they should always go back and review words from previous groups. When it comes to learning the phonics alphabet reinforcement is the key. That’s why learning both online and offline is so helpful. Here’s where you can practice that on this site.

These are two sites, that I find helpful that detail out how to do this.

Montessori World _ I love this site, it has some great techniques that will get your child learning quickly, and all of them can be done at home.

Natural Beach Living– This site has a ton of teaching advice and resources that work.

Here are some other places that break down the alphabet into groups. You’ll notice that both  of these are Montessori resources because this is a technique that they use (and I love it!).

Learning and Using the Phonics Alphabet: Avoid Too Many Worksheets

There are a lot of worksheets out there that have lists of words with pretty pictures (and I do some of that too), but that’s not phonics, and it doesn’t actually teach someone how to read. It’s the sounds that matter, and your reader needs to be able to identify them with ease. I’m not really a big fan of worksheets, because I don’t really think they foster learning, but they are a good way to practice repetition. So use them as much as you want, but don’t expect them to actually teach your child.

How To Learn Letter Sounds Offline At Home

There are lots of ways to do this at home. I think one of the best ways is to get or make letters. I like to use lowercase letters. They can be sandpaper letters or moveable letters (especially if you’re working with a beginner), thick paper, or just regular pieces of paper. This way you can group the letters any way you want to, and allow your child to focus on one letter at a time. It’s a much easier way to do it than when all of the letters are on the same piece of paper. I don’t recommend that there are any pretty pictures with the letters. Each letter should be by themselves. Get some good letters or be prepared to keep making them because this is something that you will use over and over again.

From here I recommend that you divide the letters into groups of 4 to 5 letters (no more than 6). From here, just present a letter to your child and tell them the sound that the letter makes, and have them repeat it. Keep doing that until they get it. Then add another letter, and another and another, until they’ve gone through the entire group. Make sure you review all of the letters in the groupbefore you move on to making words.

Once they know the letters from  the first group you can use them to make words. I suggest you just separate the letters of the group, so that your reader can only see those letters.

M S A T…..for example, everything else should be out of sight.

And then give your child a word to spell. Start easy with a two letter word if you can. Ask them which sounds they hear in “at” for example. And then tell them the sounds /a/ and let them find the letter that corresponds to the sound. Then ask them to find  /t/ and again let them choose the letter that corresponds with the sound. And just keep going. Remember you’re giving them the sounds that the letters make, not the names of the letters. You can reinforce this on this site here. This way your child is doing the same activity, but it feels different, so they don’t get bored. Plus everyone learns differently. This is a great way to combine learning to read online and learning to read at home.

Learning and Using the Phonics Alphabet: Build Words, Don’t Just Read Them

Another thing that is easy to do on this site, and one of the main reasons I built this as of way for kids to learn the phonics alphabet, is building words instead of just reading them.  We just kind of reviewed how to build words, but I talk about it all the time, so I want to make sure that I’m clear and you know what I’m talking about. Think of building words as spelling words.

We do this because building (or spelling) words is a great way to reinforce knowing the letter sounds. It also lends to teaching letter sounds. If you just keep showing your child words it doesn’t really teach them anything, and it makes it easier for them to memorize words instead of learning sounds (phonics). So building words ensures that they know what those basis 26 phonics sounds are.

If you have a student who is struggling with reading (especially if they are in second grade or higher) I really recommend that you break those letter sounds into groups and go through them. There are usually one of three (or three of three) places that struggling readers have trouble with and knowing those basic 26 sounds is one of them (the other two are blending and phonograms).  So to make a long story short make your kid builds words and doesn’t just read them. It’s really easy for them to fake knowing how to read (until it all falls apart when they have to read harder words), this  helps to stos that.

Learning and Using the Phonics Alphabet:: Introduce Blending With Word Endings and Consonant Blends

Blending is a key part of learning how to read. Blending sounds is simply the process of taking the sounds of a word and smoothing them out so that they sound like words and not a robot. When kids can’t do it properly they struggle and reading becomes laborious.

One of the ways that I like to introduce word blending is through word endings and consonant blends. I always start with word endings, but you can start with either. Word endings are when we take two or three of the basic phonics sounds of the alphabet and put them together to make one quick sound. The sounds that the letters make don’t change, it’s just a way to speed things up. For example common word endings are at, eg, ilk, amp. By teaching these to your kid, you can subtly teach them the concept of blending. Plus, it just flat out makes reading faster.

The way that I like to do this is to first teach all the letter sounds (and have kids practice making words with the alphabet groups). Then once they are comfortable, I like to teach them the word endings. Because word endings are putting together (blending) sounds, it gets kids blending without even thinking about it. When students start naturally grouping letters it creates the need for less blending, but it also just makes it faster and more intuitive. Have you ever seen a kid read and they are sounding out every single letter? That’s because they don’t understand the concept of putting multiple letters together to form a word or another sound. It also just makes reading really tiring. That’s when kids tend to give up or not want to do it.

Here’s a list of the word endings I like to teach, and here’s where you can practice them.

at, en, am, eg, an, ig, og, un, um, ip, ug, ut, in, op, ag

and, ilk, amp, est, ent, ink, ist, ift, ock, ing, ast, ack, ang, ank, int, end, uck

Learning and Using the Phonics Alphabet: How to Blend

You can certainly teach your student how to read word endings and consonant blends online, but there’s more blending work to be done. Word endings and consonant blends will certainly help them blend, but you really need to model blending words for them. You can do this on this site from the very first time your reader starts building words. However,  I would wait until after they have learned all of the alphabet groups, and have started making words with all of the corresponding sounds. Once they are practicing these short little three letter words (also known as cvc words), it’s a good time to model blending.

Just a quick note, the reason I wouldn’t start modeling blending right away is because learning the 26 sounds and making words for the first time is a lot of new skills for them to learn. So I think it’s best to wait a little bit before introducing something new.

Learning and Using the Phonics Alphabet: How to Model Blending

When you do feel like your child is ready to move on to blending here’s how I recommend you do it. First, relax, and take a deep breathe, because you don’t want to show any frustration when practicing this skill. Second, try to remove the word “no” from your vocabulary. Try to use words like almost, try again, that was close. They are just a little more positive, and you always want your reader to view reading in a positive light.

Now that your attitude is straight, it’s time to model blending. If you’re using this site I recommend you do it like this ….. If you’re not using this site, I’m still going to recommend that you do it like this.

  • -1. Let your reader build the words themselves. (for example cat)
  • – 2. Then you should say each letter sound individually. (c-a-t)
  • -3. Next start to blend the sounds. If it’s a three letter word break the word into two parts. The first letter is one part and the last two letters are a second part. (c-at)
  • – 4. Fourth slowly extend the sounds of the letters until they are blended together. This will probably mean saying the word 3 or 4 times. (cc-at, ccc-at, cat)
  • – 5. Finally ask your student to do the same thing, “can you try that too?”, and do it with them.

Just go through the same thing that you did. You don’t need to do anything more. If they get it on the first try, awesome. If they just sit there and stare at you like you’re crazy, awesome. This is one of those times where the result doesn’t matter. Just keep modeling blending for every word and they’ll pick it up.

How To Practice Blending Sounds Offline At Home

This same thing can be done at home. Pull out those trusty letters again. The same  individual physical letters you used to make letter sounds are the same ones you want to use to practice blending. The steps that you will use are exactly the same as the five steps that I mentioned above. There’s really no difference from doing this online and offline.

Conclusion

That’s it. Now you have some great tips and resources on how you can support your reader in learning the phonics alphabet. You should now be able to …..

  • – Teach and support your reader in learning the phonics alphabet
  • – Know which tools will help your child learn those basic phonics sounds
  • – Have some online and offline exercises you can do to help your reader learn fast

After this your child will move on to phonograms (oo, ow, ai), you can do these in the same way.

Which reading tools do you like best? And what would you like to see more of?


 

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