You desperately want to learn to read. On more than one night I have discovered you whimpering or crying in your bed and when I asked you what was wrong you choked out, “I can’t read!” It seriously bothers you. You are four and illiteracy bothers you. As a former English teacher this warms the cockles of my literary heart.
So, we’ve been working on your reading a little bit. We read alphabet books, books you have practically memorized, and little books with only about a dozen words in them. You like it, but you’re still frustrated. You’re not actually reading the words – you’re remembering them or using the pictures to figure it out.
At school your teacher started using ‘Blended Ladders’; which take a consonant and pair it (on a ladder graphic) with each vowel sound. You do one or two consonants a week and sound out these two-letter blended sounds: Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu (B-ah, B-eh, B-ih, B-aw, B-uh). You develop fluency.
A few weeks ago, you voluntarily broke out the ‘bag of flashcards’ which we’ve had for years; since your sister started talking. They’ve got pictures on one side and either a letter or word on the other. They are for vocabulary development, then letter recognition, and – eventually – reading.
You grabbed the first card with a word (no picture) and started – hold the phone! – sounding it out!
“Bu” you said immediately. Then “Ggg.” And then you shouted, “Bug!”
You did it! You read!
We made our way through the whole stack of about 60 cards (3 decks). You could read almost all of the three letter words. You read independently about a quarter of them, another half of them with help, and the last quarter were toughies (thanks, xylophone!).
It was epic 🙂
When I told your teacher the next day she was thrilled! This was her first time using Blended Ladders and she was wondering if it was even getting through; if she was wasting their time. I told her, it was totally working! At least for Buddy, it was totally working.
The day after that, she pulled you aside during free play and gave you the whole Blended Ladders book. You went through it cover-to-cover reading all the letter combos and all of the three letter word samples. She was impressed! I was too.
Your teacher said she tried to chime in several times because…you know, she’s the teacher! But, you weren’t having it. “That’s three times, Ms. G! I need to do this myself!” you scolded her. Thankfully she laughed and reminded you who was the teacher, after all.
Now you’ve got tools. And tools empower you. You go rock it, Reader!