Category Archives: Year 2

Reading made-up words

Week 15

I spent the week testing the children on the graphemes and reading of made-up words. Unlike the two weeks earlier where we tested a whole page of letter sounds, sounding graphemes and being able to blend the sounds – this week was a quick read of ten made up words.

Most of the children required reminding to remove the ‘er’ from their letter sounds whilst others seemed to get confused with the ‘b’ and ‘d’ when mixed into a word. They also forgot the digraph ‘ss’ and sounded the letters separately. When I showed them the previous weeks letters which listed them without other letters to blend, they were able to recognise the ‘ss’, ‘ff’ or ‘ll’ etc. and sound them correctly. However in a blend with other letters, they had trouble.

There were a few ways that I was aware of to help remember the difference between the ‘b’ and ‘d’ and one of those being: pretending the ‘b’ is kicking a ball so that it moving forward. Another I read on a forum was to think of the mouth movements used to say the letters: the ‘b’ uses the lips where as the ‘d’ uses the tongue, although this wasn’t as easy to explain to some of the children at this age. An alternative would be to think similarly to the ball where the ‘b’ walks forwards and the ‘d’ walks backwards.

What other ways do you know to help children remember?

The problem that I kept running into was how the children recognised the ‘b’ and ‘d’ individually but when in a blend with other letters, they had difficulty! Why is that? Dyslexia? immaturity? – at this age its only something that can/should be monitored and reviewed at a later date.

Another common mistake that kept popping up was when they read ‘E’ the letter instead of ‘e’ but this was another thing that we recapped on by looking at the previous weeks page. There were a couple of ‘O’s instead of ‘o’ and ‘j’ for ‘g’ but mainly they were consistent in their responses. There were three children who stood out who had trouble reading the words; they were made-up and they didn’t recognise them so added their own letters to help make them fit and match words that they knew. For example: ‘under’ for ‘nud’ or ‘over’ for ‘rov’.

Overall this was an easy task and most of the children had progressed a lot from when they first entered the year group.

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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Graphemes and blending

Weeks 13 & 14

When I strolled into Mrs As class, it was a little lively, more so than usual. Within ten minutes I gathered that the usual carousel wasn’t happening that week due to staff absences and training. Mrs A went to her chair, grabbed a wad of papers and quickly came over to run through the details.

To be honest, I stood their stunned, with my mouth open and an expression of ‘huh?’; she quickly ran through it again but what she said changed slightly so I confirmed a few bits. The children were to tell me what each sound of the letters were from the list: to read the grapheme blend of words listed for the children to tell me what word it made: and then tell them a word for them to break down in to the grapheme blend, sounding them out (am I saying that right? Grapheme blends? or is there a better way of saying it?). I double checked to see if they were supposed to see the words on the list which confused me further as, why would I need to say it if they were reading it?

My head went a bit cloudy and during the first day I was hesitant and questioning everything I was doing, I wasn’t confident with my understanding and interpretation of the rushed explanation. I took the first child into a quiet area and started on the sound of the letters listed which included l, ll, s, ss, f, ff. I read the instructions on the paper for the blends which contradicted a little my understanding of the verbal instructions I had received.  I stopped after the third child and double checked some details with Mrs B who was next door (Mrs A was further away and I felt stupid asking again when she appeared to be in a rush the first time!) and she confirmed my understanding but even she looked a little hazy before giving her response.

I was hesitant with each child that day, some I read the grapheme for them to give me the word where others I allowed to read. There wasn’t a great deal of difference between the two outcomes but I wasn’t comfortable.

At the end of the day once the children had gone home or to clubs, I briefly ran through my outcomes with Mrs A. I’m not sure if she assumed from my details or if that was what I was supposed to do and had misinterpreted, but I was to carry on letting the children read as opposed to me to them!

Yes, this was the time when I should have said something about my confusion, but as I was about to, Mrs A started on something else and I was still processing the information, trying to work out if I was able to adapt for the next day and re-check the oddities that might have been spotted had I done it differently for the first set of children.

Due to the size of this task, varying reading speeds and abilities, this dragged into a second week. I checked out Mr Phonics (details below) to ensure I was learning what the children were supposed to be reading and saying correctly and practiced every day before going into school to make sure it was fresh in my mind.

During those two weeks I was able to determine which children had trouble recognising the ‘b’ and ‘d’, unable or yet to read a digraph such as ‘ff’ and most importantly their pronunciation. Most of them read with an ‘er’ on the end of their sounds – example ‘mer‘, ‘der‘, ‘ger‘, ‘per‘, ‘fer‘ etc. The amount of times I had to re-cap and reiterate the letter sounds when they were reading the grapheme/blending became frustrating. I can understand that children talk in a way that they were raised or pick-up habits from the area in which they live but they should be learning that the way they read and answer questions in school, should be the correct way. Outside of school they can read, write and talk however they want. Their ability to master this skill will hold them in good stead in later life for employment.

Is this age too young to try to instil this attitude or understanding? I think it’s definately something that should be monitored through their early years of school.


Posted by on June 2, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Reading Progress

Week 12 – Continued…

This weeks task was similar to weeks 4 and 5 but without the sounds/digraph testing.

When I got into school, after signing in at the office I grabbed a ‘Volunteer’ lanyard from the basket, slipped it over my head and made my way to Mrs A’s class. I waited for her to finish telling the children about their lunchtime reading club, then she grabbed her clipboard and on her way towards me held it up and asked ‘do you remember doing these?’. I recognised the sheets: reading assessments, they were different but similar. I told her I did and quickly confirmed the allowed number of incorrect readings before each child had to stop and if they were to be timed, which they weren’t.

Mrs A then proceeded to ask if I’d had a nice Easter break which I replied to as ‘yes thanks’ – I’d rehearsed this response so as not to forget to reciprocate, obviously I asked her in return ‘you?’ Any conversation from there on was doomed for an abrupt end as I smile, nod and either respond with a cut off or notably have nothing in my head for a response!

I went and photocopied the sheet to cover all 50+ children and then took the first child on the list for a quick one to one read working my way through the classes during the course of that week. The improvement seen based on the 6 weeks prior was noticeable, very few children had trouble with the b’s and d’s and they were able to read further down the list with fewer scattered errors. I was impressed with their progress.

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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Staying focused

Week 12

Mrs HT came into the class while the children were reading their ERRs on the white board. During this time I sit to the side and wait for them to finish before I start to take them for 1:1 assessment. Mrs HT lowered her voice, said hello and proceeded to ask me a question while waiting for the children to finish. My thoughts however, were on the children trying to concentrate while she whispered over in the corner, so I was very hesitant to respond and briefly answered.

Children hear a whisper, something to look over at and lose their place, miss important information and disrupt other children. Yes they have to learn to stay focused but does that mean we should talk during their lesson?

As it happens, the children were doing well but seeing their HT standing over by the door, led to a sequence of loss in concentration. A split second but enough to break the flow and send them into a confused tis of who should be reading; that was it, they had lost momentum and hesitated at each word.

You could see by their body language that even though they are young, they were self conscious, it slowed them down and made them hesitate. They were motivated by Mrs A to get them back in the flow, the zone, but the damage had been done. They’d been interrupted by a senior member of staff and their bodies twisting slightly in her direction when previously they had been set straight facing the board, was enough to see.

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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Length, mass and capacity

Weeks 7, 8 & 9

This was a very long task that extended into three weeks, completing one to one testing and observation with 50+ children to see how much they had learnt during their lessons that covered Measurements.

The areas of measurement being checked were: – whether they could find from items, which was the heavier and how they did it; tell which was the longest of three items (the same type); be able to tell from three objects, which held the most and how they worked it out; give their understanding on what units of measurement are and then tell which unit of measurements are used to determine the capacity, weight and length of three items I told them.


I found during some questions, that I had to re-word them so that the children understood what I was asking. For example: I said “lighter” and they took that to mean ‘lighter in colour’ as opposed to ‘lighter in weight’ and some didn’t understand it at all! I also had to be explicit in my questions so that nothing was left open for interpretation, which often was. The year groups ability like usual was broad with some estimating weight with their hands while others used the size and thickness of the item which wasn’t always correct. Not many remembered or were able to read the unit markings and therefore used the size, height and thickness of the materials to estimate their capacity.

Most were not able to use the measure on the ruler correctly, a few actually drew a line wherever their pencil landed on the paper as opposed to starting from a specific mark on the ruler.

It was interesting to see how each child reacted to explanations and reasons behind what they were being taught; a few would nod and say they understood but you could see by their blank expressions and hesitation that really they didn’t. As I said in an earlier post, there is only so much I know and able to tell a child; I’m not in a position to teach them, I do not have the knowledge and won’t push the boundaries. I made my observations and wrote their answers as applicable for their teachers to look into.

While this task became tedious towards the end (for the amount of time it took), it was needed and gave further insight to me, into how different they all are, how you have to adapt your teaching skills to accommodate each child. Its hard! The question is: do you learn those different skills in teacher training or does that come from experience? I’d be concerned if it’s from experience alone – until you have that experience, how do you not fail a child who needs to learn in a different way?!?

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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Week 6

As usual, I went into school after lunch, signed in as a volunteer helper at the office and made my way to Mrs A’s classroom. It’s at this point I always feel like I’m in the way, not so much interupting but they’re busy and have to stop for me.

I waited for the children to finish their phonics and words which they practice before splitting up into their groups for Science, Art and ICT. Mrs A grabbed a piece of plain paper and a tub of printed number squares, then called a child over to show what I was do with them during that week. The child was asked to take six numbers from the tub and put them into sequence, to tell us what sequence it was in, if they could change the sequence and then place them into groups of odd and even. I had to mark on the paper if they could or couldn’t sequence and group; I wasn’t asked to do anything else, maybe this was a test to see if I’d use my initiative on making notes but I could not see how I could mark them as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without giving some observation notes on what they did, their reaction to the questions and how they placed the numbers down.

Of course I thought about whether I was doing too much, was I giving too much information for a simple test, was I taking too long, was I doing it right? 😳 I wasn’t told I was doing it wrong at any point which I’m sure they would have raised with me after the first day if I had!?

I took the paper, tub and a pen to a quieter place then went to find my first child from the class lists. Over the course of four days I worked with 50+ children, watching and listening, making notes on whether they could sequence, if they even understood what sequencing meant, whether they could change the order and tell me what order it was and if they could group into odds and even, explaining why and how they had grouped them.

There were a few children with Special Needs (Autism, Dyspraxia, Developmental Delay, ADHD, Anxiety issues and even Gifted) and during this 5 minute session it was easier to see from their reactions and way in which they interacted compared to the previous occasions when they had only read to me. Overall, it was wonderful to see how all the children’s little hands moved, how they interpret certain words and how broad their abilities are as a class/year group.

There were a few children with difficulties placing the numbers in order, confusing some yet recognising their mistake when asked a certain question such as ‘is x bigger than y?’. However, there was one child with a significant number problem and he read numbers backwards, got them jumbled and had little confidence, not wanting to discuss ‘how’ to do something.


Where possible I explained details to the children, such as using counters to visually see how an odd number doesn’t share and that they were to look at the units and not the tens. It isn’t my job to teach them and I won’t go past the boundaries, so when I met the problems faced with this child I knew it was out of my area of knowledge, I didn’t push further but wrote my observations and raised my concerns with his teacher.

I’m enjoying my time at school, quietly waiting for the time I can go in and help; I even remember a few names – five to be exact but its a start 🙂

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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in School, Year 2


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I’ll give you three building blocks – now build a house

A set of blocks

A set of blocks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What was your first thought when you read that? 

Don’t think about it too long, I want your first answer, your first impression, what you thought when you read that you had to build a house with only 3 blocks? 


Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Reception - YR, School, Year 1, Year 2


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