Tag Archives: Grapheme

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 and sounds

Week 4/5

I went into school three times during these two weeks and we concentrated on reading. I’m reading and trying to understand: Phonemes, Graphemes and Phonics so that I know what the children are learning and being tested on. I don’t want to be a helper that goes into class, gets directed by the teacher on what to do but doesn’t understand what it is or why I’m doing it. Unfortunately there isn’t always time to get all this information at the start so I’m trying to pick it up as I go along ensuring I read up on things I’m not sure on.

The children completed various reading tests: sentence reading that increased in difficulty as they progressed down the sheet. They were only allowed a certain number of mistakes before I had to stop them on a sentence which determined their current reading age. As with all classes there was a range of abilities and while some struggled with the first few lines, some managed to finish the page without any problems.

I think I’ve been lucky with my children, both are high achievers in their reading ability, something they inherited from their father who is a fast reader; I on the other hand am a slow reader. 😳

As usual I listened and watched closely to the children’s behaviours and facial expressions; I think you can learn a lot from watching children and they never fail to fascinate me.

One child used his finger to follow the line (in fact, only two children did that from the group), a few were fidgeting – one also had one hand in his pocket and a couple who were more relaxed were willing to talk, allowing me to interact more with them and ask questions. One child appeared very young for his age, noticeable by his speech while another boy was very good at reading and already on the ‘Gold’ level. I was told by another child that this boy liked Roald Dahl so I asked what his favourite book was and he said ‘Georges Marvellous Medicine’. 🙂

Once the children completed their sentence reading I tested them on their sounds: ‘th, ch, qu, ar, er, ea, wh, ng, ol, sh, ing, ck’. Most of the children did very well with these and only about six had difficulty which was only with two or three sounds each, in particular: ar/er, ea, ol and wh.

To finish off their tests they completed 100 high-frequency words with every word they were unable to read, being written for further practice. Again, this was mixed ability so a few got two or three words wrong and others about ten to fifteen. There were a few who struggled a lot and one who I had to stop half way through because he was struggling so much, it would have knocked his confidence and self-esteem.

I’m finding it easier to relax with the children and I’m becoming less self-conscious about speaking to them while other teachers/adults are around me, although I’m yet to gain confidence in my ability and knowledge which I’m sure will come with time.

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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in School, Year 2


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