Thursday 14 May 2020

Teaching vowels and split digraphs

We've been attempting to home educate a four year old, which includes introducing new sounds. All the Phase 3 and Phase 4 phonics, involve two or three letters together e.g. "oi", "er", "ow", "oa" or "air". (Phase 4 is, incidentally, mainly blended letters, such as "cl" or "st".)

We eventually got to the more complicated challenge of split digraphs. This is where the vowel sound changes if an "e" is added after an intervening letter. For example, add an "e" to can (to make cane). Or add an "e" to not (to make note) etc. They are expressed as a-e, i-e, o-e, u-e. (e-e does not appear to be covered at this stage, though it does, for example, work with "her" and "here").

This added "silent" e turns the short sounds to long sounds. The long vowel sounds are exactly as would be spoken when reciting the ABC alphabet.

Before these could be learned, the concept of vowels first had to be introduced.

To make all this easier, I came up with a song, to be sung to the tune of "1,2,3,4,5. Once I caught a fish alive..." It seemed to work!

These are vowels. We know that's true.
Here's a trick, the best trick yet,
To make vowels sound like the alphabet.

It's easy as can be.
Add a SILENT magic "E".
Practise so you don't forget
How to make vowels long, like the alphabet.

Copyright Maggie Ballinger

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