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The free SPELD SA student Word Bank includes 18 vowel sounds and their alternative spellings.
Download the SPELD SA Word Bank
Clever Schools and Clever Homes create clever kids—best practice for supporting all students particularly those with learning difficulties.
Our tips will be posted daily and include strategies for teachers and parents. They are not mutually exclusive.
If you are already using these good teaching practices at home, tutoring or in a classroom, give yourself a SPELD SA tick. We will provide simple checklists you can use for this shortly.
Information, programs, games, activities and resources selected by SPELD SA teachers to support the teaching of phonics.
These tests were created for the SPELD SA Study to provide teachers with a tool for monitoring their students’ achievement on a term by term basis. The content of the tests relates directly to the progression of skills in the Scope and Sequence Chart.
Synthetic Phonics Scope and Sequence Chart modelled on the Jolly Phonics Program and Supporting Tests for Monitoring Achievement and Spread-sheets for Record-keeping.
These tests were created for the SPELD SA Study to provide teachers with a tool for monitoring their students’ achievement on a term by term basis.
Helpful Hints for Blending - Sue Lloyd, author of Jolly Phonics
If the short vowel does not sound right, try the long one. This works with regular and irregular words eg he, be, me, blind, mind, apron, able, emu, item, o’clock.
If the letter c is followed by the vowels ‘e, i or y’, the sound is usually softened to ‘s’ as in face, dance and Nancy.
If the letter g is followed by the vowels ‘e, i or y’, the sound is usually softened to ‘j’ as in gym, giant and podgy.
When blending a ‘y’ which is not the first letter in the word, first try the short ‘i’ and if that doesn’t work, try the long ‘i’.
Advice on ‘tweaking’ the sounds in a word: When we blend sounds to make a word, we often have to ‘tweak’ the sounds in order to pronounce the word properly. However, the pronunciations are so close that children are usually able to read the words, especially if they are in their vocabulary. Here are some common examples:
Components for 90-Minute Wave 1 Literacy Blocks throughout Primary Years by Deslea Konza [top]
I am looking at when to use c, k and ck. I have found the rules on when to use ck and k at the end of words but are there any guidelines on when to use c or k at the beginning of words? - Jan Polkinghorne accredited Jolly Phonics Trainer The way I do it is to pull out a dictionary, get students to compare the number of pages of words starting with c to those starting with k. the c pages far exceed the k pages so the general rule of thumb is if you don’t know for sure use c not k because it is far more common.
You can further refine this later if you want but I wouldn’t to begin with. The letter k is substituted for c if /k/ is followed by an e, i, or y. – kin, sketch, kind, keep but there are exceptions like kangaroo. This approach later leads into the use of hard c soft c where c followed by e/i/y makes a ‘s’ sound not a “k” sound. But for the receptions I would keep it simple. One good activity is to let them search for “k” sound words and keep a list of those beginning with c and those beginning with k.
Bottle Top Letters
Bottle Top Letters are designed for those who are using bottle tops with letters on to build words.
Bottle Top Letters (Instructions) Bottle Top Letters - Print (Letters you can print for your bottle tops) Bottle Top Letters - Sassoon (Letters you can print for your bottle tops) - Jan Polkinghorne accredited Jolly Phonics Trainer
(Reception and above)
a, e and u in CVC words
k & ck
real or rubbish
ee or ea
ou as in mouth
soft c or hard c
ai, a-e and ay
plurals s & es
soft g or hard g
suffix ed sounds like t, d or id
A word sort activity involves sorting words into categories. The student is given a master sheet with category headings and a sheet of words that have several types of contrasting sounds, spelling patterns or meanings. The student cuts out the words and sorts them into the given categories. They then examine the words in each category and create a ‘rule’ or generalisation. For every rule, there are exceptions. Word sort activities call these words “odd bods”. Students should be encouraged to find out why a word does not fit the pattern or generalisation.
Word Bank – provides suitable words for blending practice - Created by Sue Lloyd
Question Sentences (Group 1) - Created by Sue Lloyd
Question Sentences (Group 2) - Created by Sue Lloyd
It is important to give the children with reading problems material that they can decode for themselves. Often they feel that books are too hard for them. The above Question Sentences can help to fill the gap. They are sometimes amusing and provide another source of reading practice.
Dictation Sentences 1 - Created by Sue Lloyd [top]
Dictation Sentences 2 - Created by Sue Lloyd
Dictation is one of the most effective ways to teach children to write. Sentences for dictation with tricky words are provided in the links above.
Literature that supports introduction of new sounds - Compiled by Victoria Carlton ICE [top]
The pdf printable chart below uses the letter-sound sequence of the Jolly Phonics program as its basic structure. Decodable reading books from a number of series have been inserted at the point where they will provide practice for previously learned letter-sound associations. PDF Classification of phonic readers by year level Key Ring Letters [top] Some schools find it useful to cut these letter sound cards out, punch a hole in the corner and attach them with a split ring ( available at Office Works or similar). This is one way to help stop them being left home. Print with a duplex printer or make double sided on your photo copier.
Key rings PDF Precursive Sassoon set 1 and 2 - Print set 1 and 2
Key rings PDF Precursive Sassoon Set 3 and 4 - Print set 3 and 4
Key rings PDF Precursive Sassoon set 5 and 6 - Print set 5 and 6
Key rings PDF Precursive Sassoon set 7 - Print set 7
Please note this page is currently being updated. A revised version of the Spelling for Older Students program will soon be available: At this stage revised lessons 1 - 14 have been uploaded. For lessons 15 - 35, please try again in September.
The SOS Program, created for SPELD SA by Jan Polkinghorne, is a series of Power point presentations containing activities to build basic phonic and spelling knowledge with students from year 5 upwards called SOS. The 35 lessons have been recently revised and are structured with the same sequence of sounds as the Jolly Phonic Program so that they can be readily used with all of our free synthetic phonic resources on our site.
Older struggling reader/writers frequently have never been taught to spell by sound. They have mostly relied on memorizing words. Many can see no logic behind English. To help them achieve we need to change their ideas of reading and writing. To help them see that English is a code which takes the sounds we speak and translates them via symbols into marks on a page so others who know the code can change them back into speech. We need to begin again by teaching these students the code, and helping them learn to blend the sounds to read and segment the sounds to write. Old strategies of guessing need to be replaced by blending and segmenting right through a word. There are 42 (44) sounds in English but we only have 26 letters to represent these sounds therefore we have to use combinations of letters (digraphs) to represent some sounds. Once we have learnt the code then we can read and write the majority of words in English—even the long ones.
SOS (Spelling for Older Students) is a way to attempt to teach older students the code in an age appropriate fashion. It is designed to be presented as quickly as possible over six or seven weeks as a concerted effort to remediate reluctant or struggling readers and writers.
With older students, it is important to screen them first to find out what level they're working at and provide activies to address the gaps. If you make the sessions fast and fun, include competitiveness, build in rewards, games and prizes, students will join in. You can use the SPELD SA free synthetic phonic assessment materials to find out which letter sounds they know http://www.speld-sa.org.au/links/free-tips-and-resources-for-phonics-teaching.html.
The following 16 lessons introduce the sounds s, a, t, i, p, n, (c, k, ck,) e, h, r, m, d, g, o, u, l, b and various ways of recording them. 19 new lessons will be loaded on to the website shortly.
These Powerpoints are provided at no cost.
Download First: Operating Instructions
SOS Lesson 1: S s
Lesson 1 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 1
Lesson 1 Handwriting
SOS Lesson 2: A a
Lesson 2 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 2
Lesson 2 Handwriting
Lesson 1 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 3: T t
Lesson 3 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 3
Lesson 3 Handwriting
Lesson 2 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 4: P p
Lesson 4 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 4
Lesson 4 Handwriting
Lesson 3 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 5: I i
Lesson 5 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 5
Lesson 5 Handwriting
Lesson 4 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 6: N n
Lesson 6 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 6
Lesson 6 Handwriting
Lesson 5 Tricky Words revision
SOS Test Week 1
SOS Lesson 7: c k ck
Lesson 7 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 7
Lesson 7 Handwriting
Lesson 6 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 8: E e
Lesson 8 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 8
Lesson 8 Handwriting
Lesson 7 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 9: H h
Lesson 9 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 9
Lesson 9 Handwriting
Lesson 8 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 10: R r
Lesson 10 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 10
Lesson 10 Handwriting
Lesson 9 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 11: M m
Lesson 11 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 11
Lesson 11 Handwriting
Lesson 10 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 12: D d
Lesson 12 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 12
Lesson 12 Handwriting
Lesson 11 Tricky Words revision
SOS Test Week 2
SOS Lesson 13: G g & O o
Lesson 13 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 13
Lesson 13 Handwriting
Lesson 12 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 14: U u
Lesson 14 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 14
Lesson 14 Handwriting
Lesson 13 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 15: L l
Lesson 15 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 15
Lesson 15 Handwriting
Lesson 14 Tricky Words revision
SOS Lesson 16: B b
Lesson 16 instructions
Worksheet Lesson 16
Lesson 16 Handwriting
Lesson 15 Tricky Words revision
SOS Test Week 3
Much has been said in government and in the media about the need to improve literacy skills but a workable solution remains elusive. In order to improve global reading results, we need to focus on teaching reading skills explicitly. This includes the teaching of pre-literacy skills, such as rhyme, vocabulary, visual matching, and language comprehension. As these skills are developing and we begin to introduce reading skills, we need to maintain an emphasis on vocabulary, and explicitly teach word decoding skills and reading comprehension skills through example and practice.
Research tells us that for most people with reading difficulties the underlying problem is a phonological deficit, a difficulty working with the sounds in words. The brain is malleable and particularly so in young children. We need to engage junior primary students in a powerful program, such as Jolly Phonics, that teaches them about the sounds in words and their relationship to letters. These are the foundation skills for reading. An introductory literacy program will be most effective if complemented by a phonics-based reading program.
One of the major barriers to the teaching of phonics is the adoption of reading levels by Australian schools. Levelled books are classified in different ways depending on the system. Criteria include degree of difficulty based on semantic difficulty and the complexity of the sentences. What this means is that a book with a levelled vocabulary can have mixed text in it with all kinds of spellings as long as they are within the level. As a result, students may find some books easy at a particular level and others too hard. These systems include a testing regime to determine when children are ready to proceed to the next level. Well known systems include the Lexile Framework for Reading, Reading Recovery and Guided Reading. The PM Benchmarking kit enjoys widespread use in South Australia.
My concern is that reading levels have been adopted by schools because they offer a convenient structure for a whole school reading program. Books classified according to a particular system can be grouped into ‘the red box, the blue box etc’ and the testing regime used to guide students through the levels. In many schools, there are expectations in terms of level for each grade. For example, students should be at Level 23 by the end of Grade 2. Because reading skills are not taught explicitly and systematically through these systems, students can find themselves at the same level for a whole year. This can have detrimental effects on their motivation and self esteem. The systems that level books now have a strong commercial base and schools prefer to buy books that fit into the levelling system they are using.
A few years ago, I visited a junior primary school and asked if they would show me how the reading levels work. The reading levels coordinator showed me the manual with the tests the students are given. As I looked at level 1 with words like “painting’ and “climbing”, I commented that the words seemed hard for a beginning reader. “They don’t have to read the words,” I was told, “they look at the pictures. It’s a form of reading.” This approach to ‘reading’, I believe, is responsible for the strategy used by many junior primary students who are not automatic readers, what I call, the ‘look and guess’ approach. They look at the picture and guess the word based on key letters. Using this strategy in one of the tests I use, “book” has been read variously as “ball” and “bird”. You see all the pictures start with the same letter! And then there’s the little boy who said to me as we progressed from test items with pictures to items without, “I can’t read that, there aren’t any pictures.”
Phonically-controlled books are classified by difficulty, too, but the classification is based on the difficulty of the phonic rule introduced in the book. One of the best known series of phonically controlled books is the Fitzroy Readers, now available in hard copy and on CD.
Regrettably, phonically controlled books are being relegated to the scrap heap because they don’t fit the system. As a result, children who need to be taught using the building blocks of reading (phonics) are failing. How many children might this be? Let’s look at the statistics.
Assuming a normal bell curve, the IQs of 25% of students are below average. The majority of these children need explicit skills teaching to learn to read. When you add to this the 3-10% of children with an average IQ and dyslexia, we are now talking about 30% of children and this still doesn’t include children in neither of the above categories who might have a language disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or Auditory Processing Disorder.
If we are serious about improving reading skills, we need to spend time providing explicit skills teaching. The value of running records is ignored if they are used to decide on promotion to the next reading level rather than for their primary purpose which is to find out where the student is having difficulty and what they need to be taught to progress.
That a minimum of 40 minutes/day be spent in junior primary classes on the explicit teaching of phonics, spelling rules and handwriting skills. At the beginning, this should be supported by the use of phonically-controlled books. Once students’ reading skills take off, then they can move to levelled books with confidence and achieve success.
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