28 Dec

This is the perfect time to help your emergent or struggling reader prepare for upcoming standardized tests. Common Core is around the corner.


Go back to the beginning: sounds, letters. Then fill in the gaps, as needed. Review, repeat like crazy.

Use this time-tested, pattern- based decoding sequence.


  1. Consistent consonants: b,d,f,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,r,v,z.
  2. Inconsistent consonants: c,g,q,s,t,y,w.
  3. Digraphs (2 letters, one sound): ch,sh,th,wh,ph,gh,ck,ng.
  4. Blends: (two letters, two sounds); (three letters, three sounds): bl, cr, cl, dr, fl, gl, pr, sc, sk, sm, sn, sp, fr, tw. Scr, spr, str, spl, squ.


  1. Start with short, then add in long and variations. (a, e, i , o , u and sometimes ‘y’ and ‘w’).
  2. Vowel pairs or teams: ae, ai, ee, ea, ie, oa, ei, ue, ey, ew, au, aw. (also called vowel digraphs).
  3. Diphthongs: oi, oy, ow, oo. (can have different sounds).
  4. ‘Bossy’ r, vowel plus ‘r’, ‘r’ controlled vowel: ar, er, ir, or, ur. (a+r =ar (car);  e+r=er (her);  i+r=ir (first);  o+r=or (for);  u+r=ur (turn).
  5. Magic, or special e. “E at the end makes the first vowel long.” kit-kite, pin-pine. ‘E’ makes the first short vowel turn long, with the last e, silent.

Structural Analysis:

  1. Syllables. Every syllable has a vowel. Start with cvc pattern (consonant- vowel-consonant).
  2. Word family patterns (approximately 36 make over 500 words!): at, in, op, it, ap, etc.
  3. Compound words. Two words standing together which make one word: mailman, cowgirl, hairbrush, etc.
  4. Contractions: There are a few exceptions, as will not- won’t; cannot- can’t.. But otherwise teach the most common ones that follow the similar pattern. “Take the letter out, then put the apostrophe in.” eg. I am=I’m; do not-don’t. are not-aren’t.
  5. Prefixes, suffixes. “Prefix comes before.” ” Suffix comes after,” Root words have various origins!


  1. Read the whole sentence to see if there are some clues to what the word might be.
  2. See if any part of it looks like a word you already know.
  3. “Cross checking” “Does it look right?” “Sound right?” “Make sense?”
  4. Are there any known words in the word?
  5. How does the word begin and end?
  6. Is it a compound word?
  7. Is there a prefix or suffix at the beginning or end of the word?
  8. How many syllables are there?
  9. Are there any word families?
  10. Sound out the letters using clues, (or cues).
  11. Use context clues.
  12. Ask for help, last.

Age dependent, use a dictionary on or off line.

Reading programs come and go. Skills remain the same.  Put on your New Year party hats and celebrate your capable, confident, fluent reader!

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