When my daughter started kindergarten, books were sent home for reading practice that were beyond what she was ready for, and I could see her getting discouraged and frustrated. The last thing I wanted was for her to dislike reading, so I decided to go with my gut and intuition and dismiss the reading materials that were being sent home. Instead, I created my own set of Emergent Readers eBooks, which I have shared for free on this site, and the progression for reading practice below is what we followed. Perhaps it can benefit other parents out there who are looking for reading resources to help teach their children how to read, and who want to make reading a positive and enjoyable experience.
STEP 1: Starting With One Word CVC Emergent Readers
Although some may disagree about limiting the books to only CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, it worked for us at the beginning stages. It built her confidence and consolidated what she learned and knew about phonetic letter sounds. It was empowering for her – in her mind she could read a book and that is what mattered most.
STEP 2: From a Single Word to Two Words
We took it extremely slow in the beginning. Once she was confident with one CVC word on a page, we moved to two CVC words on a page – which at the time completely blew her mind. I can still remember the first time she read two words in a row and made sense of them, it was such a great moment for her and she was so proud of herself!
STEP 3: Adding Sight Words
Once she was convinced two words on a page was something she could handle, I began adding a sight word in front of a CVC word, for example, “a cat.” I was careful not to rush her, and we spent quite a bit of time on each sight word before I moved on to the next. I eventually brought her up to reading three to four words on each page, and stopped there. At this point in time, I will admit I panicked a bit because she was behind others in her class, and questioned my methods, but my gut told me to hang in there, and so we did.
STEP 4: Adding CCVC Words
In the next phase we focused on CCVC words, and she caught on fairly quickly. At this point I continued to introduce different initial sounds with the eBooks and kept revisiting the CVC and sight words I had already introduced.
STEP 5: New Sight Words & Longer Sentences
Following the same progression as before, I slowly introduced new sight words and then when she was ready we mixed CVC, CCVC and sight words all together and progressed to longer sentences. The eBooks I created didn’t have any storylines but that didn’t matter to her, she was just happy that she was reading books. The aim was for her to continue building her confidence and comprehending single sentences and phrases that were introduced on each page.
STEP 6: Introducing CVCC Words & New Sight Words
The last step was to introduce CVCC words, and then follow the same progression as before – new sight words and mix all the vocabulary together. By this time her fluency was improving, and she had increased her confidence levels as far as attempting longer sentences.
This is the point we were at when she entered grade 1. As far as PM Benchmark was concerned she wasn’t even reading at a level 1, but in my mind and as far as she was concerned she could read, and quite well when given the proper materials. I was lucky enough that her grade 1 teacher agreed to let me continue with my teaching methods, so we continued to use my resources, and occasionally we would read one of the readers that was sent home from school.
STEP 7: Learning CCVCC Words
Introducing CCVCC words was what we started on next, alongside sight word lists that were being sent home from school. During this time (about halfway through first grade), she casually walked over to her bookshelf one night at bedtime, selected It’s My Birthday by Helen Oxenbury, sat down on her bed and began to read it to me! Although she needed a bit of assistance, she read most of it by herself. She literally went from not even being on level 1 (according to PM Benchmark), to reading books way beyond that. I was so proud of her, and at that moment realized that going with my gut was the best decision. If you take the time to build a solid foundation with your child, and make sure the basics of reading are in place, they will soar when they are ready. And best of all they will love to read!
STEP 8: Adding CVCe, CVV & CVVC Words
We are almost at the end of the grade 1 school year, and my daughter is at the top of her class for reading. We now use the school readers being sent home on a daily basis, along with her favorite books at home. We also continue practicing the one-word Transitional Readers eBooks I created, which focus on CCVCC, CVCe, CVV & CVVC words. I have noticed that when she gets stuck on a word it’s because she hasn’t quite mastered sounds in those words yet, so this is good practice for her. We are fine-tuning her skills.
Reflecting on my daughter’s reading journey, it has been such a positive and empowering experience for her and she has come out a strong and avid reader, which was my goal from the beginning. Always trust your instinct when it comes to your children’s learning journeys and know that whatever path your children take, they will learn to read! For a detailed overview of all the Emergent Readers eBooks in our collection and a more in depth look at the progression we followed, please see the previous article.
Our Emergent Readers collection forms the foundation for teaching young learners how to read. We define an “emergent reader” as a child who can recognize letters, their names and the sounds they make. They are now ready to start decoding words, and our series aims to take them from reading and sounding out single words, to recognizing sight words, and moving from two words phrases to multiple word sentences.
The collection is engaging, and children can interact with the books in a variety of ways. Each page has audio buttons, and students can visually see the pictures and letters, plus by adding a free add-on to your web browser, such as Page Marker, Web Paint and Microsoft Edge, students can practice writing by tracing or attempting to spell words. The Emergent Readers can also be viewed in flipbook mode, where a picture is displayed next to a word or words, or in flashcard mode, where a word is displayed first, followed by the picture. The eBooks are also printable, providing yet another way they can be presented to children. For classroom use, the eBooks can also be viewed on SMART Boards for group instruction.
1. CVC Words:
The CVC Emergent Readers are the first in our collection. The series covers short vowel endings, and the eBooks provide the foundation for the rest of the collection. Readers are divided by endings, and then mixed books are provided to consolidate learning. The series also include 2 CVC Word books for children to begin reading multiple words on a page. Emergent Readers in this series include:
2. CVC & Sight Words:
The CVC & Sight Words Emergent Readers collection builds upon the CVC Emergent Readers by combining sight words with CVC words that children are already confident in reading. It begins with a sight word and a CVC word combined, and then progresses to 3- and 4-word patterned sentences. The mixed sentences challenge children to read two different sentences they have already seen; for example He is/He can, pushing them further in their learning. Emergent Readers in this series include:
3. CCVC Words:
Once children are confident in reading CVC words and the first set of sight words, they can progress to the CCVC Emergent Readers, which are divided in two different ways: by initial sounds and by common endings. This series follows the same pattern as the CVC Emergent Readers, where children focus on specific endings that are then are mixed in multiple ways. Two-word eBooks that combine CVC and CCVC words are also included. Emergent Readers in this series include:
4. CVC, CCVC & Sight Words:
The CVC, CCVC & Sight Words Emergent Readers provide the next step; children practice sight words previously learned in the CVC Emergent Readers collection, and are introduced to new ones, such as: this, that, his, her, what, and who. The series moves from 2 words to patterned sentences, and then mixed sentences. To further learning, students are also introduced to simple question-patterned eBooks where students can be tested on their comprehension of vocabulary learned, an essential skill when learning how to read. Emergent Readers in this series include:
5. CVCC Words:
The CVCC Emergent Readers collection is the fifth set in our series of eBooks. They are grouped by CVCC word endings, and like the previous collection, mixes are also included. The two-word eBooks in this set include CVC, CCVC and CVCC words. Emergent Readers in this series are as follows:
6. CVC, CCVC, CVCC & Sight Words:
The CVC, CCVC, CVCC & Sight Words Emergent Readers are the final set in our collection, and they combine all vocabulary previously learned with the CVCC words learned in the fifth set. This collection also introduces children to plural CVC words and additional sight words, such as: look, here, they, our, you, your, do and or. Again, the eBooks move from 2 word phrases to 5 & 6 word sentences to ensure that students learn gradually and solidly. Question eBooks are also included to provide additional reading comprehension practice.
Our aim is empower students in their journey towards becoming confident readers; it is our belief that this journey is one of the greatest a child will embark on in their young lives. Please visit our activity ideas sections for ways to use our eBooks at home with your child, as additional reading practice or as part of your homeschooling program, or in the classroom with your students, whether it is a mainstream or ESL classroom.
For the past 10 years I have been on a journey to create my own website to fill areas I found to be lacking in educational resources. The site was initially created for sharing FSL & ESL eBooks and accompanying resources for upper primary and middle school students, and throughout the years has expanded to include Emergent & Transitional Readers, The Education Blog and Shala Educational Consulting Services. In the beginning, I hired a company to create and design my website, and then re-hired them for a redesign when the old one needed some modernizing. Huge mistake on my part, but reflecting back to when I started on my journey, I didn’t know that I could design a website without programming knowledge. I designed this website, and perhaps it’s not as fancy looking as the previous version, but it is engaging and streamlined, and users will find it easier to access information they are looking for. The big lesson I have learned is that it is entirely possible to create your own educational website from scratch, without paying a large sum of money to a company that hasn’t a clue about education. If you are thinking of creating your own site, here are some steps to follow:
1. Design a Framework
What is your vision and the purpose of your website? Who is your audience? Map it out in detail. If you are not clear on your vision this will affect your web design and the interaction that users have with your site.
2. Create Content
Before beginning to design your site, create a ton of content – will you be offering teaching resources? If so create the materials, form your packages – this part will be the most time consuming. Will you be adding a blog? Start writing – perhaps have 20 articles or so ready to go for your site.
3. Select a Website Builder
There are many companies out there, such as Weebly (which I have chosen) and Wix, that have ready-made templates with drag and drop functionality, making it easy for anyone to design a website and add a blog to it. You don’t need a lot of technological knowledge, just an eye for choosing a nice layout and images. If you are looking to add e-commerce functionality, once you have set up an account with a company like PayPal, uploading products and setting your prices can easily be done
4. Choose a Hosting Company
Companies like Weebly and Wix offer hosting packages, or you can shop around for a third-party to host your site. I opted for SiteGround based on my need to upload eBooks through an FTP server. Do your research, prices and packages vary from company to company. Find one that suits your needs.
5. Brainstorm Key Words & Phrases
Before designing your pages – brainstorm key words and phrases relevant to your website. For example, if you are designing a website for French resources – some key words and phrases might include: FSL, French, French resources, FSL teaching materials, learn French... Once your website is set up, and you are feeling comfortable, you can also opt to use paid advertising to drive additional traffic to your site using Google AdWords.
6. Design Your Website
This to me was the most fun part! The Weebly template I selected made it very easy for me to upload images and content. Ensure that images you choose are either purchased through a company like iStock, or that licensing allows you to use them on your site. Make sure each page has a lot of content, and that all your links work before going live. Ask friends and colleagues to test your site out and make sure it functions, and is user-friendly.
7. Learn SEO
This is such an important step in the design of your site. Do your research, and make sure you understand everything there is to know about title tags, URL links, page descriptions etc. You can create the most beautifully designed website, but if you haven’t done your SEO properly (as I have learned from the past), people will not be able to find your site.
8. Set Up Google Analytics
Set up a Google Analytics account, and add the tracking number to your site. This will allow you to monitor how many visitors come your site and which pages they are most interested in.
9. Social Media
Set up accounts with Pinterest, Google +, Twitter, Facebook etc., and then add them to your site. This will allow you to advertise and post content from your website on various platforms and reach a wider audience.
Have you designed your own educational website? Are there any tips you would like to share?