Although I’m feeling this post should actually be titled “The Learning Curve for Stupid, Ignorant, Non-Savvy Bloggers”, suffice it to say that I finally got a semblance of a table up. You ought to be able to print it off if you are interested. It can only go better and more quickly the next time around. Short vowel sounds and schwas–watch out! I will eat you alive.
How we use this chart: When it’s time to learn the long vowels–probably around first semester of first grade–we learn the actual long vowel letters, the sound the vowels make when they’re long, and the sign to show they are long (macron). Then, I show them the chart and say something like, “The long vowel SOUNDS can be made by other letters and letters all mixed together! Isn’t that crazy!? So we will keep working on all the different combinations to make the long vowel sounds in phonics and spelling this year and in the years to come! But don’t get confused! A long “a” sound can be made many ways! Let’s work on a couple.” Then over the next three years, we layer it all on, as some of the combinations are quite tricky. Then they’re not thrown for a curve when “ea” says long A sound and long E sound! And as I go along the letter combinations, I’ll point out what else the combinations can say. For example, the “ea” also says short e sound as in breakfast! I don’t linger on it all–I just point it out. So when we formally study it or they see it in passing, they’re not frustrated and misled. Sometimes at a good vowel review point, I’ll have them list all the combinations they can think of for each long vowel and write a word for it. My first grader doesn’t do really well yet. But she gets the common ones presented in early phonics primers. My third grader has really blossomed with this this year. And now, she automatically lumps the words in spelling categories in her head.