Archive for January, 2009

Step 3 Teaching the Sight Words

Sight words

Each day, you will want to work on sight words.  There is a list of 220 sight words that was developed by Edward Dolch that are used the most in the English Language.  These words are sight words and are not meant to be sounded out.  There are other words that should be sight words besides those 220, but these are the most common used in our English language.  You can purchase a set of these to put on flashcards, or create cards yourself.  You can also find powerpoints online that are created using these words.  Some have sound and will say the word and will only give them 3 seconds to say it before the powerpoint says it.  My favorite resource for these online is Mrs. Perkins website online.  She has a variety of available activities for use on the dolch sight words that include the powerpoints.

When working with flashcards or powerpoints for learning the sight words, it is important to only give a slow count to 3 for your child to recognize and say the word.  If they don’t then you say it for them.  You want to learn what these words are, because later when reading, you will want to do the same thing when they see the word in text.  You will not want them trying to sound these words out. 

To learn these sight words, start with 3 to five words depending on your child’s pacing needs.  Show them the word, say the word.  Place the word on the table in front of them. Say the word and have them repeat you. After giving a second word, have them pick up the first word, say what it is and lay it down.  If they do not recall within 3 seconds say it for them and have them repeat it before setting the word down.  Give a third word, have them repeat it.  Go back to the first word, have them pick it up, say the word and place it down.  Do this until you get to about 5 words on the first day.  Then work with those five, mixing them up and repeating the activity of picking each word up and saying what it is and placing it down. Repeat this, having them try to remember it the next time.  Mix the cards up each time and add words each day at a pacing that fits them.   Normally you can add 3 to 5 words each day.  You will want to go over all of the words, but once you have had a few days of adding words, you will pick 5 old words and 3-5 new words to use for practice each day. 

One activity I like and comes from, “How to Teach your Dyslexic Child to Read” but I have adapted to include other ideas is to play a word game.  To play the game:

1. Take about 10 of the words.

2. Place them facing up where you can see the words

3. Use a toy car, little people or other fun moveable object.  Each of you has one.

4.  Place your object in front of you on the edge of the table of words. 

5. Each of you take turns saying a word or you say all the words. 

6. After saying the, you both race to the word.  You should hesitate to allow them to win most of the cards.

You can search in any search engine to find the 220 sight words, but using the link above gets you several lists in building order. Teach them in that order for great success.  Once certain words are learned put them in a stack together to be reviewed as needed.  Start with the first list “pre-primer list” and work your way up.   


Step 2 Part B Teaching the Consonant sounds


I am unsure as to where I got this order of teaching sounds, but know it came from somewhere.  This is the order I teach the consonant sounds.  If anyone reading this, knows where this order may have come from, please let me know so I can include some support to why I  use this order.  In my experience this order works best because the first sounds I teach are the least likely to have a different sound in reading.  The student can depend on that sound to be the same in most locations.  Here is the order.


As you learn each sound, you will want to do a variety of activities for each sound.

Take the first sound M.  Write the letter M large on a chalkboard, on paper, or other.  Say the sound by itself.  Do  not include an /uh/sound after the /m/ sound.  This tends to be a habit that people have but the letter m only makes the /m/ sound with mouth closed and doesn’t open.   This goes the same for the letter n.  I will not go through each letter, but be careful to not include other sounds when teaching the different sounds.  Have your child say the sound feeling it under their chin, on their lips, and making note of how the mouth is shaped and feels.  Even discuss where your tongue is inside your mouth.  This creates a visual of the sound. 

Now have them trace the large letter m where you had it drawn for them.  Make sure they trace it the way you write the letter m.  This is important with each letter.  After completing this, do a variety of activities, saying the sound while making the letter shape. These are some ideas, you can come up with your own. You aren’t actually writing the letters with these activities but feeling the textures and the shape in different ways with a finger.

  • Draw the letter in the air
  • draw on your back
  • draw it on their back
  • draw it in the sand
  • draw it in pudding (place pudding inside a large ziplock back for cleanliness)
  • draw it on sand paper
  • draw on felt.

After practicing the letter shape with it’s sound.  You will want to have either a  variety of magazines appropriate for children around or if you want to make even more interesting and fun but takes a lot of space, some boxes to place objects into.   I will warn you however that children find the boxes of objects a great deal of fun, but the objects placed in the box will need to stay there for practice for a while.  This is why mostly I have used magazine cut outs. 

Have the student find objects with the initial sound  /m/.  Cut these out of the magazines and place into envelopes or small boxes.  As they learn new sounds you can mix these pictures or objects up and have them sort them or find certain sounds.  Play a matching/memory game.  If the initial sounds match then they are a match. Any game that requires matching is good for practice in this area once they have 3 or 4 sounds down.   Feel free to make up games as you go along.  

Some important things to remember.

1. Don’t teach a new sound until the ones presented are learned.

2. Keep the pace with their learning speed.

3. Don’t let them get bored, move forward at the speed best for them. Sometimes they want more than one sound a day and can learn more than one a day.

4. Work on the vowel sounds everyday and no more than 2 to 4 consonants per day.

5. Give lots of praise. Prepare yourself to be positive and not get exasperated with them.  If you are feeling exasperated, stop, they will feel this from you and get frustrated.

6.  Spend no more than 30 minutes on these activities per day. More than this, I find isn’t beneficial and can even hurt their progress.

7. Spend about equal time on vowels and consonants each day.

Step 2 Part A Teaching the Vowel sounds

Second, they know how to identify the letters so we are ready to begin learning the sounds.

Vowel sounds

It is important when teaching the sounds to start each day with the vowel sounds. You will want to spend equal time on vowels and consonants but vowels should come first. I sing two songs with students to learn the vowel sounds.  One is a chanting song with students, and the other is a tune to Frere Jacques that I found online on another teacher’s website.


The chanting song I use is located in a book called, “How to Teach Your Dylsexic Child to Read” by Bernice H. Buamer.  Here is the chanting song using short vowel sounds.


A, a, a for apple,

E, e, e for egg.

I, i, i for Indian hopping on one leg,

O, o, o for ostrich living in the zoo,

U,u,u for umbrella to keep the rain off of you.

Now I’ve said my vowels,

A, e, i, o, u

I hope you like this little song

That I sang for you.”


I use the combination because through the two songs, they hear the sound within words and at the beginning of words.   You will want to sing these songs each day.  For best results, take the time to include weekends.  Just go over the charts as part of a routine.  If you skip weekends, some students will backslide each weekend and this is frustrating.  Put the chanting song on a chart with pictures of each of the objects out beside each line.  So at the end of the apple line, you would have a picture of an apple.   


An additional activity that speech therapist have often used when working with me in my classrooms includes saying words that start with the long sounds and short sounds with the student holding their hand under their chin to feel the difference in how their mouth is shaped for the sounds.  You might want to include this as part of your daily routine.  Mostly, I have seen this to make a difference when a student has some articulation difficulties and have had a history of being difficult to understand by others. 


Step 1 for teaching your child with dyslexia to read “The Alphabet.”

The first couple of posts here on Dyslexia will come from the perspective of a parent with a K-3 grade student. This is important to note as you don’t want an older child to feel ‘babied’.

It is surprising but within my experience, I have found that there are numerous children that are trying to learn to read but are unable to identify the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that go with them. This includes long and short sounds for the vowels. If your child does not know these, we must start here.

Learning the alphabet and it’s sounds.

First, teach them the alphabet song, if they don’t know it. Purchase a set of lowercase alphabet letters on cards or tiles. You do not need the uppercase, only lowercase. Practice singing the alphabet song and have your child place the letters in alphabetical order by repeatedly singing the alphabet song. This will need to be done daily until they are able to recognize them and place them in order without assistance.

Lynnette Crawley M.S. Ed

As an educational consultant, I work with families, students, adults, parents, teachers, schools and corporations in relationship to the many disabilities affecting their lives. Many times all anyone needs is a little coaching, direction or tools to close the gap between where they are and where they should be. Making progress is not good enough. We must be closing the gap. Email:

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