English is not a phonetic language. About half of our words are either spelled according to non-phonetic "rules" or follow no discernible pattern at all (they are historic spellings). To prepare children to succeed with this complicated language, we teach them not only the sounds of the single alphabetic letters (pink and blue sandpaper letters), but also the sounds of the most common phonograms (green sandpaper letters). And we teach all of these sounds at the same time!
Phonograms can be easily learned when you follow the Montessori steps to literacy. Here's the big picture:
- Sound games
- Sandpaper letters
- Movable Alphabets
- Phonogram Reading Cards
- Phonogram Lists
- Alphabet Explorations with Solid color alphabets
- Phonogram Spelling Folders
- Phonogram Dictionary
There is no need to wait to introduce phonograms! They will be hearing those phonemes in language so why not give them the common symbols that match what they are hearing?
Watch our Phonogram Video Lesson plans for details.
Once children know most pink, blue, and green sandpaper letters, they are ready to start using the movable alphabets. After experience building words with those, they will start decoding words...reading. When this happens, we give them phonetic, predictable words to read so that their confidence grows (Levels 1 and 2 of our Phonetic Reading Cards). But very soon after (often within a week or two) they are ready to read words that include phonograms (Level 3 of our Phonetic Reading Cards, shown below).
Next, we help them extend into accurately spelling words that contain phonograms via our Phonogram Reading Lists. As they gain interest in spelling and gain more experience reading, we introduce the Phonogram Folders. These materials are a brilliant way to explore the spelling variations of English.
Finally, we show them how to use the Phonogram Dictionary so they can decipher the spelling variations they come across when they are reading.