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Copyright 2014
The Teaching Home
Box 20578
Portland OR 97294
Phone: 503-253-9633  

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Since 1980 The Teaching Home has provided families information,
inspiration, and encouragement from a distinctively Christian perspective.

Co-Editors: Veteran Homeschool Sisters, Sue Welch and Cindy Short

Past Issues

Newsletter #392
Listening / Basic Skills Series, Part 1.  Includes: Advantages of Good Listening; Principles of Good Listening; and 10 Listening Practice Activities. Applicable to both younger and older children.

Newsletter #393
10 Ways To Get the Most from Homeschool Events.  Includes list of 2014 State Conventions, dates, and links to more information.

Online Phonics Resources

Books To Help You Teach Phonics

 •  Through the Phonics Barrier, Student Manual, A Self-teaching Audio-Visual Approach to Reading Improvement. 64-page online book. From basics to advanced phonics with extensive word lists and phonic rules, plus eliminating reversals (p. 49), how to divide words into syllables (p. 53), misread words by high-school and college students (p.56), typical errors in spelling (p. 58), and more.

 •  How To Teach Phonics (copyright 1916). 40-page online book. Instructions for what the teacher is to do and say, games, word lists, phonics rules, four-year curriculum. Also available for Kindle.

 •  Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics for First Grade. 42-page online book. Instructions for what the teacher says and writes, word lists, phonics rules, more.

 •  Ready to Read, Teaching Support Material, Sound Sense: Phonics and Phonological Awareness. 56-page online book. Practical suggestions for teaching phonics (including what to say and write), learning activities, lesson plans, and more, including this note on terms:
 •  A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word.
 •  Phonemic awareness means the ability to hear and differentiate the individual sounds within words.
 •  Phonological awareness, which is a more inclusive term, refers to an understanding of the sound system of spoken language.
 •  The relationship between spoken sounds and the letters that represent them is called phonics.

 •  For Younger Children. Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics Phase One Teaching Programme 54-page online book. Learning activities to develop speaking and listening skills, phonological awareness, and oral blending and segmenting.

Links to More Resources

 •  An Old-Fashioned Education. Links to many free online books of yesteryear, including some of the phonics resources listed above, alphabet books, primers (such as McGuffey's Eclectic Primer), readers, McGuffey's readers & speller.

Learning Activities

 •  NeoK12 video lessons teach phonics with songs and visuals.
ABC Phonics for Kids
ABC Phonics Song with sign language
ABC Phonic Chant
Blending Lesson
Phonics Vowels, A to Z, Blends

 •  Attractive, colorful worksheets.
Reading: Phonics to Vocabulary for 1st grade. 43 pages.
Phonics Fun: Vowels & Diphthongs for 2nd grade. 24-pages.

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day presents an opportunity to teach your children the true story of Patrick of Ireland, who at the age of 16, was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. After he found God while herding pigs and escaping, he returned to his home in Roman Brittan, and later returned to Ireland as a humble and brave missionary!

We have included many excellent resources, a free unit study, and free e-books below.

 •  Free 5-day St. Patrick Unit Study from Knowledge Quest. Includes: biography about St. Patrick, research, and report; science, nature, and craft activities; timeline, mapping, and lapbook activities; and an Irish dinner.

 •  Free 23-Page E-book from Living Books Curriculum, St. Patrick's Day Holiday Helper. Includes: a biography, rare illustrations for picture study, a recipe for soda bread, and more.

 •  Read more about Patrick in the online article from Joyful Heart, "Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up?."

 •  Read a shorter account (on for children of Patrick's life and how he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity.

 •  St. Patrick's Breastplate: Read this poetic prayer, listen to and see it sung in an Irish setting, and study vocabulary, geography, and comprehension questions.

 •  Free eBook: Confession of St. Patrick. Read this brief story of St. Patrick's life, told through his own eyes.

Save $20
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Home School Legal Defense Association offers homeschooling families a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense that gives them the freedom to homeschool without having to face legal threats alone.

Use this link and discount group number 299142 for $20 off your membership fee.  (Be sure to enter the discount group number 299142 in the "Discount Group Code" area, not the "Coupon Code" area.)

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Sunnyside Up

4-Year-Old Phonics

We play spelling games throughout the day, so I was not surprised when our son, age 4, came up to me and said, "Mom, I know how to spell eight."

"OK," I said, "how do you spell eight?"

Proudly he announced, "T-U-V."

When I told him that was not the correct spelling, he looked confused. "But that's the way the phone spells it!"

Submitted by Sue S., Texas.

Send your humorous anecdote to

Peace with God

1.  God loves you.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

2.  Man is separated from God by sin.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23)  For the wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23)

3.  The death of Jesus Christ in our place is God's only provision for man's sin.

He (Jesus Christ) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

4.  We must personally receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Eph. 2:8, 9)

God's Word

Immerse your family in God's truth through systematic reading and study of God's Word.

The Teaching Home's
Unique Bible Reading Schedule

Features include:
•  Start any month.
•  Read 6 days a week
   (allows for church on Sunday).
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   (24 days per month).
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Listen to beautiful traditional, sacred, and inspirational conservative Christian music (commercial free!) when you tune in to these online stations:

 •  Abiding Radio.  Choose from four stations: vocal, instrumental, kids, and seasonal (Christmas). Information for listening on many different devices.

 •  Old Christian Radio

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Part 2
Word Analysis:
Reading & Phonics

"The skills involved in word analysis should be mastered by every child and adult, whether or not they can already read."

 •  Basic Skill: Reading
 •  Word Analysis
 •  Pre-Reading Phonics Practice
 •  Teaching Phonics Step-by-Step

 Basic Skills Series 
Topics in our Basic Skills Series will include:
 1.  Reading
      Word Analysis: Reading & Phonics
      Reading Comprehension:
          Generalizations/Analysis & Synthesis;
      Application: Bible Reading & Comprehension
      Evaluation: Teaching Discernment Through Literature
 2.  Writing
 3.  Math: Concepts, Computation, Problem Solving
 4.  Resources: Visual & Reference Materials

 •  Freebies. Online Phonics Resources
 •  St. Patrick's Day Free Online Resources


Basic skills must be thoroughly mastered in order for children to acquire, use, and communicate knowledge in other subjects.

These basics must also be constantly reviewed, and used, so that they are retained.

You may want to go back to the basics to test mastery, understanding, use, and speed by means of daily or weekly quizzes or games.

You may also want to concentrate on the basics for a while:

 •  When your child is beginning his home schooling.

 •  When you are overwhelmed with too many subjects or family emergencies.

 •  When your child has reached a roadblock and cannot seem to progress further.

 •  When your child is ready to begin a new, higher-level subject.

Although the basics are the first steps in learning, they are never outgrown – they are the tools that our children need to have honed and ready for all their future learning.

May the Lord bless you and your family for His glory.

The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian

The Teaching Home is a homeschool, family-run business operated in our home since 1980.

Basic Skill: Reading

Reading is the passport to the world of knowledge and understanding of the world. Reading and comprehension skills can enable your child to learn in any subject area throughout his life.

1.  Reading Methods

The methods used to teach children to read include whole word (also called "sight reading" or "look-say") and intensive phonics.

Whole word requires the child to memorize the shape of the word, not the individual sounds of the letters. However, a child cannot possibly memorize all the words he may encounter.

Phonics teaches the sounds of the letters and certain groups of letters. Phonics rules give the child tools to decode written sounds of even new and unfamiliar words.

Intensive phonics will also help your child learn to spell.

Teaching a child to read is not as difficult as you may think. You need only a few phonics resources, patience, and enthusiasm.

Start with short lessons and gradually increase the length. If your child becomes frustrated during a reading session, stop on a positive note, rather than try to finish the lesson.

2.  Reading Readiness

Reading readiness depends on the individual child. Most children are able to master reading skills by age 6 or 7.

However, you need not delay reading instruction if your child shows interest and ability sooner.

Likewise, you need not worry if your child takes longer to learn to read. It is more important to establish a solid foundation of reading skills than to push for early reading.

3.  Teaching Your Child To Read

Have you taught your child to read? What a delight to watch the lights go on and the world open up through the printed word! That is the time many mothers feel they have passed the first test and become home educators – and they have.

If this exciting opportunity is still ahead of you, we trust that you will find help and encouragement in this newsletter. Take your time and enjoy teaching your child to read. It can be a wonderful experience to share together!

If your child is in junior or senior high, you might be surprised to learn that a review of phonics rules can help smooth out some stumbling in his reading or improve his spelling. The basics are always appropriate study material for any age.

Word Analysis

Word Analysis (as tested in nationally-normed standardized tests for the early grades) includes the decoding skills of grapheme-phoneme relationships (written letters and their sounds). These include:
 •  Initial (beginning) sounds of words
 •  Medial (middle) sounds
 •  Final (ending) sounds
 •  Rhyming sounds.

Word analysis is a skill that consists of many separate sub-skills. It begins with attentive listening (see Part 1 in our last newsletter) applied to the sounds in words, and culminates in the ability to read any printed material.

The skills involved in word analysis/phonics/reading should be mastered by every child and adult, whether or not they can already read. This group of skills will:

 •  Solidify and expand reading ability (decoding).

 •  Teach or improve spelling (encoding).

 •  Prepare our children to teach our grandchildren to read.

 •  Enable us and our children to teach others to read, either as a wage-earning employment, a volunteered public service, or a Christian ministry.

Pre-Reading Phonics Practice

A well-developed phonics system will lead to early success for almost every child within a few months.

However, to prevent hang-ups, slow-downs, or mental/emotional blocks, make a low-key game of the following pre-reading phonics exercises for months (or even years) before you begin to teach reading. This will develop your child's ability to hear and evaluate similar and different sounds within words.

1.  Initial, Middle, and Ending Sounds

Have your child think of words that begin with the same sound. Say:

 •  "What words start the same as Daniel (or your child's name)? How about door, dog, and dinner. Now you think of some."

 •  Another day think of words that start like Mommy or Sister, etc., until all sounds have been covered.

 •  Do the same for middle and ending sounds.

2.  Word Pairs

Say word pairs and have your child tell you if they have the same beginning, middle, or ending sound. Say:
 •  "Do bat and ball begin the same?" (Yes)
 •  "How about bat and cat?" (No)
 •  "Do bat and foot end the same?" (Yes)
 •  "How about bat and ball?" (No)
 •  "Do hat and can have the same middle sound?" (Yes)
 •  "How about bat and bit?" (No)
 •  "Which parts of bat and bed are the same?" (Beginning)
 •  "How about bat and can?" (Middle)
 •  "How about hat and feet?" (End)

Do not try all these questions at once or you will confuse your child; practice each step until it is easy (using many different examples on many separate occasions) before moving on to the next.

3.  Rhymes

Do rhyming games and riddles.

 •  Say "What rhymes with bat and cat?" (fat, hat, mat, pat, ratsat)

 •  Or "What is a food that rhymes with sneeze?" (cheese)

Teaching Phonics Step-by-Step

Teaching phonics is not hard. Instruction materials can range from a simple manual to an extensive system with cassettes, workbooks, games, phonetic readers, etc. Or you can make up your own flashcards, word lists, and practice sentences (see "Resources" at end).

Any good phonics system should use the following steps and teach all the letter-sound connections used in English words. Eighty-seven percent of English words can be read by "sounding them out" with the rules of phonics.

1.  Consonants and Short Vowels

Teach letter/sound associations:

 •  For consonants: b in boy; c in cat, etc.

 •  For short vowels: a in bat; e in bet; i in bit; o in hot; u in hut.

2.  Beginning Consonant and Short Vowel Blends

Practice reading initial-consonant plus short vowel blends:

 •  sa in sad; me in men; fi in fig; ro in rod; nu in nut.

3.  Add a Final Consonant

Create, read, and spell one-syllable words with short vowels by adding a final consonant to each of the blends learned in Step 2

 •  For example: baa-t, bat; saa-d, sad; haa-t, hat.

An estimated 62 percent of the English language is made up of short-vowel words and syllables; this gives immediate success if practice words and sentences have been carefully selected.

4.  Long Vowels

Two rules generally apply when long-vowel words are added (a in cake; e in seed; i in bike; o in boat; u in huge):

 •  When there is one vowel in a short (one-syllable) word, it usually says its short sound.

 •  When there are two vowels in a short word, the first vowel usually says its long sound; the second one is silent (e.g., same, meat, fine, road, rude).

5.  Practice Reading and Spelling

Applying just the four steps above opens up a world of reading vocabulary to your children. Provide sentences and stories to give your child practice using the phonetic sounds they are learning and to develop smoothness and speed.

6.  Multiple-Syllable Words

Once a child is familiar with one-syllable words, then words of more than one syllable can be introduced.

The easiest way to teach two-syllable words is to begin with simple compound words like baseball and root words with added suffixes like jump, jumping, jumped.

Teach your child to divide words into syllables and sound out each one separately.

Many two-syllable words can be read after you teach the following.

 •  A vowel is usually long if followed by one consonant and then another vowel (e.g., begin, open, silent).

 •  A vowel is usually short if followed by two or more consonants before the next vowel (e.g., children, kitchen, cupboard) – unless the first consonant after the vowel is followed by le (e.g., table, maple, but not little, kettle).

7.  Special Phonics Rules

Use word lists for spelling and reading that contain phonics rules as they are learned. The following are a few examples.

 •  Letter clusters: ch in chin, chair; or in for, order; sh in ship, shape; ing in king, bring.

 •  Silent-letter words: comb, lamb, half.

 •  Special groupings of letters: night, bright, light; laugh, cough, enough; could, would, should; through, though.

 •  Silent-l words: chalk, talk, walk.

 •  Words using ank: bank, drank, sank, thank.

Recommended Phonics Resources

 •  A Beka Book, including Handbook for Reading
     Also see Six Easy Steps to Reading
 •  Christ Centered Publications
 •  All About Reading (Multisensory, Orton-Gillingham)
 •  Reading Made Easy
 •  The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading
 •  Sing, Spell, Read And Write
 •  A Home Start in Reading, Booklet by Ruth Beechick

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