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How to Teach Phonics

How to Teach Phonics
Title: How to Teach Phonics
Release Date: 2006-04-04
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
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Transcriber's notes.

Underlined words indicate:
  Typographical errors that were corrected.
  Words that were not clearly visible on the scanned images.
  Duplicate words in word lists.
Underlined letters indicate:
  Diacritical marks and special characters that may not be visible in all browsers.
Words such as thot, thotfully and thoroly are spelt as per original.

[Pg 1]

How to Teach




Primary Supervisor and Instructor of Methods,
Northern Normal and Industrial School,


Hall & McCreary Company

Copyright 1916, Hall & McCreary Company
P 2143
Printed in the U.S.A.

[Pg 2]


Phonics is not a method of teaching reading, but it is a necessarypart of every good, modern method. It is the key to word mastery, andword mastery is one of the first essentials in learning to read. Aknowledge of the sounds of letters, and of the effect of the position ofthe letter upon its sound, is an essential means of mastering themechanics of reading, and of enabling children to become independentreaders.

A knowledge of phonics not only gives power to pronounce new words, butit trains the ear, develops clear articulation and correct enunciation,and aids in spelling. Later, when diacritical marks are introduced, itaids in the use of the dictionary. The habit of attacking andpronouncing words of entirely new form, develops self-confidence in thechild, and the pleasure he experiences in mastering difficulties withouthelp, constantly leads to new effort.

The little foreigner, greatly handicapped where reading is taught by theword and sentence methods only, begins on an equal basis with hisAmerican neighbor, when the "Alphabet by sound" is taught.

In recent years only has the subject of phonics found a place on thedaily school program; and there is perhaps, no other subject on theprimary program so vaguely outlined in the average teacher's mind andtherefore taught with so little system and definite purpose.

The present need is a systematic and comprehensive but simple method ofphonics teaching thruout the primary grades, that will enable anyteacher, using any good text in reading, to successfully teach thephonetic facts, carefully grading the difficulties by easy andconsecutive steps thus preparing the pupils for independent effort inthot getting, and opening for him the door to the literary treasures ofthe ages.

It is with the hope of aiding the earnest teacher in the accomplishmentof this purpose that "How To Teach Phonics" is published.


[Pg 3]


Every sound and pedagogical method of teaching reading must include twobasic principles.

1. Reading must begin in the life of the child, with real thoughtcontent. Whether the thought unit be a word, a sentence, or a story, itmust represent some idea or image that appeals to the child's interestsand adjusts itself to his experience.

2. It must proceed with a mastery of not only words, but of the soundsymbols of which words are composed.

The child's love for the story, his desire to satisfy a conscious need,gives him an immediate and compelling motive for mastering the symbols,which in themselves are of incidental and subordinate interest. While heis learning to read, he feels that he is reading to learn and "symbolsare turned into habit."

If the child is to understand from the beginning that reading is thotgetting, we must begin with the sentence, rhyme or other language unit.If a story is the initial step, a few well chosen sentences that tellthe heart of the story will constitute the first black board readinglesson.

The next step is the analysis of the sentence, or the study andrecognition of the individual words therein.

Finally the word is separated into its elementary sounds, the study ofthe sound symbols growing out of the stock of words learned first aspurely sight words.

Following this phonic analysis comes the final step, the blending ofthese phonic elements to produce new words. Thus gradually increasingprominence is given to the discovery of new words by thisanalytic-synthetic process, and less time to sight word drills, untilthey are entirely omitted, except for the teaching of unphonetic words.

There should be at least two ten-minute lessons in phonics each day.These lessons are not reading lessons and should not trespass on theregular reading period, when thot getting and thot giving are uppermost.

While greater prominence is given to the thot phase in reading, thetechnical drill and active effort in mastering the mechanical phase isof equal importance as necessary preparation for good reading.

[Pg 4]


1. Ear Training:

From the first day a definite place on the program should be given tophonics. This period, at first very short, will gradually increase toten, fifteen or twenty minutes.

To enable pupils to recognize words when separated into their elementarysounds, exercises in "listening and doing," will constitute the firststep in phonics teaching. Words are sounded slowly and distinctly by theteacher and pronounced or acted out by the pupils.


(First Day.)


If at first children are not able to distinguish the words whenseparated thus; s-t-a-n-d, d-r-i-n-k, blend the sound less slowly thus:st-and, dr-ink, gradually increasing the difficulty to st-an-d, d-r-ink,and finally to the complete analysis.

These ear training exercises should continue until a "phonetic sense" isestablished. Not all children can readily blend sounds and "hear theword." Patient drill for weeks, even months, may be necessary before asense of phonetic values is attained. Haphazard and spasmodic work isfatal to progress; but a few minutes of brisk, lively drill, givenregularly each day will accomplish wonders.

The exercises should be varied from day to day to insure active interestand effort.

Second Day:

Touch your n-o-se; your ch-ee-k; your ch-i-n; l-i-p-s; k-n-ee; f-oo-t;b-oo-k; p-e-n-c-i-l; d-e-s-k; sh-o-e; d-r-e-ss, etc.

[Pg 5]

Third Day:

Place a number of toys in a basket. Pupils find as the teacher soundsthe name of each, saying: "Find the t-o-p"; "the s-p-oo-l;" "thed-o-ll"; "the h-o-r-n"; etc.

Fourth Day:

Sound the names of pupils in class; or names of animals; colors, fruits,places, etc.

Fifth Day:

R-u-n  to  m-e.
C-l-a-p  your  h-a-n-d-s.
W-a-v-e  the  f-l-a-g.
Cl-o-se  the  d-oo-r.
F-o-l-d  your  a-r-m-s.
B-r-i-n-g  m-e   a   r-e-d  b-a-ll.
B-ou-n-ce  the  b-a-ll.
Th-r-ow  the  b-a-ll  to  Fr-e-d.
R-i-n-g  the  b-e-ll.
H-o-p  to  m-e.
S-i-t  in   m-y  ch-air.
R-u-n to  the  ch-ar-t.
S-i-n-g  a  s-o-n-g.
B-r-i-n-g  me   the  p-oin-t-er.
B-o-w  to  m-e.
F-l-y  a  k-i-t-e.
S-w-ee-p  the  fl-oo-r.
R-o-c-k  the  b-a-b-y.
W-a-sh  your  f-a-ce.
D-u-s-t  the  ch-air-s.
Sh-a-k-e  the  r-u-g.
F-ee-d  the  h-e-n-s.
C-a-ll  the  ch-i-ck-s.
M-i-l-k  the  c-ow.
Ch-o-p  w-oo-d.
R-ow  a  b-oa-t.
B-l-ow  the  h-o-r-n.

The pupil should now begin sounding words for himself, at first, if needbe, repeating the sounds after the teacher, then being encouraged toattempt them alone. He will soon be able to "spell by sound" names ofcommon objects[Pg 6]in the room, as well as easy and familiar words dictatedby the teacher.

II. Teach the Single Consonant Sounds.

b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s (as in see), v, w, g (hard), c(hard), and qu as in queer.

Teach but one sound for each letter at first. Nothing need be said atthis time about the fact that some letters have more than one sound.When words like "city" or "gem" occur simply explain that sometimes "c"or "g" has this sound, (giving the soft sound), but continue in thephonic drill to teach the sounds that will be needed first—those mostoften met in the early reading. The sounds of initial s and y are taughtfirst, rather than final y and s; q is taught with the u—qu (as inquiet, queer, quick) not q alone.

The sounds must be given distinctly and correctly by the teacher, andshe should insist on perfect responses. Good reading is impossiblewithout clear and distinct articulation.

1. Analyze Known Words in Teaching the Consonant Sounds.

For the first lesson teach perhaps two consonant sounds. Suppose thewords "ball" and "red" are chosen to be analyzed as words familiar tothe class. (Selected from the reading lessons as the ones best known andmost easily remembered.)

Write "b all" on the board, and pointing to the separated parts, soundslowly several times. Pupils repeat. Teacher say, "Show the letter thatsays 'b.' The part that says 'all.' Write "b" under "ball" thus:

b all

Pupil sound "b" several times, as it is written elsewhere on the blackboard.

Proceed with "red" in the same way. Keep these two forms,

b allr ed

[Pg 7]before the class, asking frequently for the sounds until thoroly fixedin mind.

For the second lesson, review "b" and "r" and teach one or two newconsonants. It is better to have short and frequent lessons at first,than to present too many sounds at once, resulting in confusion.

Suppose "c" is to be taught next and the type word chosen is "cup." Itis not necessary to teach the consonants in the order in which theyoccur in the alphabet,—it will depend rather upon the occurrence in theprimer of the words chosen for type words. Write the word "cup." Pupilsrecognize it at once as a sight word, and pronounce. Rewrite it,separating it thus, c up, and let the pupils make an effort to sound theparts alone. If they fail, sound it for them asking them to repeat itafter you. Proceed as with "ball" and "red," being sure that each onegives the sound correctly.

(1.) After teaching "c" say, "Who can find a word on the chart beginningwith this sound?" "In your books?" "on the blackboard?" the pupilsounding the letter as he points to it.

(2) Say, "I'm thinking of another word beginning with "c." "It issomething Grandpa uses in walking." (Cane.) "I'm thinking of somethingsweet that you like to eat." (Cake) (Candy) "Of the name of someone inthis class." (Clara) (Carl) "A little yellow bird." (Canary) "You thinkof a word beginning with that sound." "Another." "Another."

2. Begin At Once Applying Knowledge of the Sounds Learned.

As new words are met containing known sounds, the pupils should applytheir knowledge of phonics. For example, if the word "catch" appears,the pupils sound "c," the teacher pronouncing "atch" underlining thatpart of the word as she tells it,—the pupil puts these sounds togetherand discovers the new word for himself. If the new word is "cab," theonly help from the teacher is the short sound of "a". This given thepupil sounds "a" and "b" slowly; then faster, until the result of theblended sounds is[Pg 8]"ab." Combine "c" with "ab" in the same manner untilby the blending of the sounds the word is recognized. Only such helpshould be given, as will enable the pupil to help himself.

"Ball," "red" and "cup" now become type words with which "b" "r" and "c"are associated respectively, and from which the pupil gets his "cue" ifhe fails to give the sound of the letter at sight. Thus all theconsonants are taught, from suitable sight words which the child hasalready learned. They need not however, be the ones given here,—for "b"it may be "baby," "ball," "boy," or "box," but let it be a word familiarto the class and easily remembered. For "d" it may be "doll," "day," or"dog;" for "y", "you", "yellow", etc.

The teacher should previously go through the text and select the wordsshe wishes to use as type words in teaching the consonant sounds.

3. First Steps in Writing and Spelling.

As each consonant sound is taught its written form may be learned. Onrough manila paper, using waxed crayons, make copies of the lettersabout two inches in height, for each pupil. At his desk the child traceswith his fore finger, going over the smooth path again and again—thusdeveloping psycho-motor co-ordination. Each time the letter

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