It may seem that my reading guide is for Grade One children but it only appears that way. The truth is there are primary to middle school reading students struggling to understand basic phonological instruction because the teaching strategies being used couldn’t meet their learning needs.
To start this program your child requires skills to listen for and identify the different sounds of letters and combination of letters that correspond to words they view on a white board, screen or read from books. I will be teaching basic word attack skills such as blends, digraphs and consonant word endings with the vowel sound that all reading teachers should use, if they wish their students to learn to read. Middle school students without these decoding skills will need to relearn them if they are to enhance their reading progress and to understand the reading instruction to follow. For example, “Can your child spell this blend, “squ” as in squaw?” My grade one reading class was able to spell every blend, double blend, digraph and consonant ending before the Christmas break. I suggest that you review “Cursive Writing Skills” and read the science behind why rewriting the word over and over will help your child to remember.
My guide provides children with a systematic program of reading development skills that will require 100% of their ability to pay attention, if they are to remember and use what they learned to strengthen the development of more complex reading skills. Your child’s brain can remember every skill required to understand what they will be challenged to remember. For those parents who may have skipped lessons required to follow my lesson plans and your child is struggling to keep up with my reading lessons, I’d advise you to teach or reteach earlier lessons if your child is to learn to read. Here’s a quick test for children seven to twelve years of age. Ask your child to say aloud the ‘Short Vowels’ in alphabetical order. Those children able to do so will find my reading program easy to understand. If they can’t, they will be taught a phonological series of reading skills that are essential toward their learning to read. Since I always start from the known to the unknown, I expect that every lesson to be taught to a level of automaticity.

The Secret Sound that Makes Reading Easy for Children Understand

What is the easiest sound for the human voice to produce? This sound is made by babies the world over. I begin my reading program with this sound and continue with it until at the conclusion of that unit your child will be able to read, spell and define the meaning of the hundreds of words they were taught to remember to a level of automaticity. If you wish your child to achieve reading success use ‘tough love’ but be patient in your approach to help your child learn.
With the thousands of reading methods and strategies offered to teachers for the past few decades, my reading program provides the beginning reader instruction that is achievable. I try to make the learning of each lesson failure proof for all students. There are North American reading teachers using teaching strategies that often confuse the student and methodologies that don’t follow the principles of the science of reading. All I ask is that teachers experiment with my learning strategies, I believe they will find what I offer to be of value.

The Secret Sound

It’s called the ‘doctor sound’ by teachers but they don’t use it to begin their reading lessons. Some begin a program of word attack skills with long vowels and then teach the vowel sounds in alphabetical order. Each vowel lesson my parents teach are designed to teach regular vowel patterns (vcc) that follow rules. An example of words that follow a regular vowel pattern order, words that don’t break rules are: mom pop cat big stand see skate flame sea seal steel steal, etc. To begin my word attack decoding program, your child requires a complete understanding of vc/vcc words, their meaning and how they are spelled. Irregular vowels are introduced when the student has learned all regular pattern vowel sounds. There are teachers who begin phonological instruction with long vowels. Long vowels break too many rules. My decoding reading program has been designed to teach phonological skills that always follow rules. Cŏst and lŏst follow a regular vowel/consonant/consonant (VCC) word pattern. This may explain why children are confused by words that look like a short vowel pattern word but have a long vowel sound, words such as mōst and pōst. Mōst and pōst break the vcc rule with vowel sounds that are long (say their own name).
I begin my vowel sound program with short Ŏ and stay with this easy to produce vowel sound until I have taught the student to blend all single, double and triple blends, digraphs and final consonant and digraphs before going on to the next lesson with Short Ĭ. This method doesn’t require they learn new blends and digraphs, it reinforces all initial blends and digraphs, as well as all final digraphs and consonant ending. Your first reading lesson begins with teaching the blending of learned sounds of letters of the alphabet with short Ŏ. You are to stay with the same vowel sound until every single, double and triple blend, digraphs and all final consonant word endings have been mastered before moving to the next vowel sound.
Unfortunately, because of copyright issues, I am unable to provide parents with pictures of words to help their child to understand the meaning of words. I suggest that you use a picture dictionary, comic book pictures or Google cartoon pictures to teach word meanings. Words are of no value unless the child understands their meanings. If this becomes too time consuming, simply let the word pass, although I don’t recommend this omission. All word meanings are important but not at the expense of the time you are putting into searching for a meaning. Teach your child to Google cartoon words such as pop, as in popping a balloon, a soft drink or an affectionate word to call a father. Ask your child to find the origin of the word cop. COP is short for Constable On Patrol.

Lesson #One - The Short Sound of Ŏ

I will provide the wordlist you will need to teach each lesson. I recommend you teach the recognition of each word in this order. Read each word two times, one colmn at a time. Then read the same column with your child, reading each word twice. Then your child is to read every word, repeating it twice. If your child has been taught cursive writing skills, this cognitive activity will more than double their ability to remember and spell the word. Continue until all five columns of words can be read without hesitation. I will soon be able to offer parents a program of cursive writing skills that will be found on my Learning Tree under Cursive Writing Skills.
Try blending the first consonant with the Short Sound of ŏ, as in mo m po p bo b for each column, repeat your instruction following this example. When they can read each word, help them to understand how to spell each word and then teach them word meanings. This will be the same procedure for every lesson from now on.

Ex. #a) mom box log lop job
pop lot sob lob jot
bob cop rot pot fox
dot cod rob hog top
pox cob rod mop jog

When teaching word meanings, eg, the word lot can be a parking lot or I got a lot of candy on Halloween and cats are a happy lot. Bob can bob for apples. Pop can be a soft drink, the sound of corn popping in the microwave or an affectionate name for a father. The more words your child commits to memory, the better educated the child will become. Teach ‘cop’ as Constable On Patrol.

Initial Blends and Digraphs with Short Ŏ

Ex. #b) blot drop trot from shot
prom slob clob clot plod
plot clop shod slot slop
chop frog blog clog spot
shop prop stop flop smog

Everything will remain the same as in the last lesson. You should begin as soon as possible to sharpen your child’s listening skills by asking questions such as, “What is the fourth word in column three? Then ask, “What is the meaning of the word above the word stop?” Continue with listening skills by asking questions such as: “What word in column three means to put a shoe on a horse?” “What is smog?” Spell the word slob, “What does it mean?” What word in column five means to work hard when walking in the snow?

Consonant and Digraph Endings

Ex. #c) cost mock loss long fond
pond boss sock doll lock
loft song lost moth dodge
toss bond honk moss lodge
josh soft bong dock conch

Repeat as in Ex #b). Must be able to read, spell and provide at least one meaning for each word. Ask, “What word in column two means to tip your cap or hat?” “What is a conch?” Spell the word conch.

Consonant Blends and Digraphs

Ex. #d) cloth block smock sloth chomp
crock cross froth strong tromp
lodge blotch blond frock thong
slosh flock broth stomp throng
clock shock gloss dodge prompt

Same procedure for every lesson, except that I suggest you review lessons #a), #b and #c by asking questions such as, “When do you wear a smock?” Spell the word chomp. In Ex. #c, Ask, “What does the word ‘sloth’ mean?” With your child, go to Google and look up a cartoon picture of a sloth, then teach a geography lesson so your child can tell others where the sloth lives and some of the countries with jungles where they are found. Remember that you are not only teaching your child to decode. You are helping them learn. Then ask, “What does it mean to be prompt?”

Lesson #Two The Short Sound of Ĭ

Same Lesson as the Short Sound of ŏ, Except the Short Vowel Will be Short Ĭ

Ex. #a) pip six rip pit jig
bib his rib tip fit
bid wiz rid fig fix
big din dim sit gym
dig pin fin kid gin

Continue with listening skills. When teaching the word fit, explain being physically fit and that your shoes fit. Do this with as many words as you have time for? Ask your child to read the first word in column one, the second word in column two, third in three, etc. Explain ‘aeiou’ and sometimes Y as in gym (see Basic Rules on The Learning Tree).

Ex. #b) quiz shin skit flip slim
whiz chin trip grin skip
quiz chip ship grim spin
quit this trim grip strip
twit whim snip skim split

Same as above

Ex. #c) inch lift sing lick wish
risk bill pick fish wick
sick list with tick wind
wing will fill ring sink
wink milk sink rink link

Same as above

Ex. #d) sixth which shrill think squid
binge whiff script swing shrimp
thick quilt whisk swish squint
quick guilt twink sprint squinch
slick switch shrink splint Grinch

If your child hasn’t had the story of “The Grinch who Stole Christmas” read to them, this might be a good time to do so. If they know the story, ask them to tell you the story. This will improve their verbal expressive language skills. Explain the concept of the soft sound of g as in binge. The g is a hard sound as in the words spring swing swing guild and Grinch.

Lesson #Three The Short Sound of ă

Ex. #a) mam ran fad jam had
gag ham tag rat add
dad zag mat act tax
tat axe bat zap map
pat cap wag ash dam
Ex. #b) chat swag slab slap span
than quag slat snap slab
wham span crab grab glad
scat sham clam chap cram
flap that scan stab scram
Ex. #c) sang sand camp lack past
lamp rang lash last mass
bank gasp bang band ramp
tank mast mash pack rang
half bath math calf dance
Ex. #d) shack cramp smash trash stack
champ match chant shall grass
thank catch snack crack slack
whack hatch tramp track trance
quack batch stash crash chance

Point out that the four words in ex# d, column two, have a silent letter ‘t’, as do the words half and calf in ex. #c.

Lesson # Four The Short Sound of Ŭ

Ex. #a) pup hum cut mug sun
nun fun gun gum hug
mum bun lug cub rub
bub sub tub rum sum
dud bus but tug yup

You may need to come up with verbal expressions for words such as mum bub dud mug yup sun (explain the homonym son) and especially the word ‘but’ which is usually a conjunction that joins words to phrases. When explaining the word hum, say the word hum while humming its pronunciation.

Ex. #b) chum plum slug smug drug
shut stub glut smut rung
chub drum slum grub glum
thug spun shun shut spud
chug sput plug flub plus
Ex. #c) much ramp sung junk lush
mush lung luck such such
hush bunt hunt runt lump
rust jump tuck suck bump
dust lung pump duck dumb

Remind your child of two things about the word dumb. First that the b is silent and the meaning shouldn’t be stupid before dumb as being unable to speak. A person can have “dumb” luck.

Ex. #d) skunk scrub clump bunch struck
stunk shrug stump lunch crutch
slush scrum brush brunch clutch
blush skull slump crunch sludge
crush flunk thump scrunch smudge

Lesson #Five The Short Sound of ĕ

Ex. #a) elf set wet hen hem
end den ten beg get
zed leg net met vet
pep keg web fed yet
yes ten wed jet gem

Point out that the g in the word gem is soft and pronounced jem

Ex. #b) sped when Fred stem shed
trek whet Bret bred fled
when sled Chet prep cleft
then step Shep wren theft
them glen Rhett bled chef

You may have to explain that ch says ch-church ch-Chicago ch-Christmas shk

Ex. #c) rest tent help lent went
felt bend kelp left well
sent bent pest jell rent
west best peck neck belt
text hemp jest vest desk
Ex. #d) french knelt flesh welch swept
trench dwelt chest belch crept
sledge dwell quest quell cleft
stretch twelfth whelp quench tenth
wretch twelve wrench squelch strength

You will notice that there are more words that your child will need help with learning. By now, your child should be able to recognize dw, as a blend and be able to sound it out, without your help. There are words that require a full understanding of the Consonant Sounds of C and G. Google this rule if I didn’t explain it properly. Word meanings will require that they listen and remember. Many of these words will be used in stories that I have written plus the vowel sound exercises that I am about to teach. It is the irregularities of vowel sounds that cause so many spelling errors.

This completes the Short Vowel Sounds lessons.


Few teachers use my method to help their students move from regular pattern short vowels, which have become automatic, to long vowels which is the next word attack skills lesson. It only made sense to help children learn from what they understand, short vowels, into the concept of regular Long Vowels Final E.

Long Vowels Final E (VCV) Regular Vowel Sounds (the Rule)

Your child has already learned the three and four letter short vowel words, they will easily find that by adding a final to one syllable short vowel words that the first vowel is long and final e is silent. Everything else will be the same. By the end of this lesson, your child will be able to read the words, spell them and be able to produce at least one word meaning for each word. There is one more rule to learn.

Why Understanding the VCV Rule Helps Children Become Better Spellers

A child must be taught the vowel consonant rule in order to spell correctly. Vowel/consonant words such as: hop, shop and shop would become long if the consonant wasn’t doubled when adding ed, er and ing. By doubling the final sonant, this keeps the vowel sound short. Remember the vcv rule, ‘regular pattern words with one vowel sound ending with a final e are long. By adding an ed, er or ing, you drop the final e and add an ed, er or ing. Words such as hop, shop and chop would become long when adding ed, er and ing without doubling the final consonant. For example: hop would become long if you added an e without doubling the final consonant. This way it keeps the vowel sound short.

There are a great many words that break rules. I will ask that you teach only those words that follow phonetic rules.

Lesson # One (Regular pattern short to long vowel sounds final e VCV words)

cap - cape cut - cute cop - cope sit - site hid - hide rod - rode
Rob - robe hat - hate hop - hope rat - rate kit - kite mat - mate
bit - bite tub - tube fat - fate dim - dime dud - dude cod - code
lob - lobe din - dine fin - fine fad - fade top - tope can - cane
Man - Mane not - note pal - pale win - wine cub - cube pip - pipe

Lesson #Two (Same as above but with blends and digraphs)

plan - plane slop - slope slid - slide spin - spin scrap - scrape
prim - prime thin - thine glob - globe chim - chime strip - stripe
skat - skate slim - slime spit - spite plum - plume grip - gripe
whit - white grim - grime trip - tripe shin - shine smit - smite

Words with ‘final e’ that aren’t from short to long but still need to be learned.

squire spike strike pride stride stole stoke stroke smoke stroke
swine quote graze blaze phrase crape scribe shrine swipe scheme

I know that I am asking a great deal for word meanings but words like skat can be easily explained with phrases such as, “I have to scat now.” I had to go to Google to come up with a meaning that made sense for scat. It works for me!

The good news is that the next lesson of Long Vowel Sounds has always been the easiest vowel lesson I taught. It’s the Two Vowels Together Rule.

The Rule:When two vowels are together as in words such as: eat, meat, heat,oat, boat, float or aim, claim, pain or paint: “The first vowel is long and the second vowel is silent.

Lesson #One (One syllable words)

ai oa ee ea ea
sail oak peel leaf read
jail soak feel seal leap
pail boat feed heal heap
pain goat tweed heat peal
paint goal wheel wheat leap

Lesson # Two (One syllable blends and digraphs)

train float speech please teach
sprain groan sneeze steam reach
chain poach freeze stream sheath
trail toast squeeze steal squeak
quail throat fleece grease squeal

This completes the regular pattern of long vowel lessons.

This was the easy part of decoding because all the words follow rules. From now there will be words that break rules and require your child to remember. I suggest that they hand write those words they find difficult to remember. We will see how well your child can ‘remember’ what they see and hear.

The next lesson is an example of what to expect from now on.

Introduction to Why Vowel Sounds are Difficult to Remember

(An example of Short ŏ vowels with various spellings)

I earlier explained that the easiest sound for the human voice to pronounce was the Short Sound of ŏ. These words are spelled in a variety of ways but they all end up as a Short Sound of ŏ. Some examples:

al – I taught vc/vcc vowel patterns that followed this rule. Words such as:

hal, add a second l and the word is hall (short ŏ)
  gal, add a second l and the word is gall) (short ŏ)
  Sal, add the letter t and the word becomes salt (short ŏ)

More words spelled with an l. These word all have the short sound of ŏ pal/pall Cal/call chalk tall talk small wall walk ball balk hall halt malt father
Clam says short a but calm palm says calm short o as do swab waft wand want what, wash, as well as, wad was wallow swallow water watch la ah blah

aw - paw saw jaw law paw raw chaw claw draw flaw slaw thaw straw squaw
au - aught taught August daughter audio sauce auger Australia author auto
ou - ought thought brought sought fought cough trough

To keep on the same topic of words that fool children, I will introduce them to homonyms.