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Help with forming vowel sounds for a 4yo....

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Hi all - I have recently started to consider getting serious about teaching our 4yo to read. My older 2 were reading on their own (with little guidance) by her age, so this is new territory for me to have to "manage" her reading lessons. I am quite sure she is ready.


Here's a little background: She knows her ABC's (since 2yo), she can write very well (copy work - she does it on her own, often, and seems to enjoy it. I have never made her do it, though she sees her older sister doing it and wants to be like her.). She enjoys looking at picture books (often) and can sustain her attention through listening to a story being read directly or book on tape.


We have gone through some of the Bob Books, but I fear she has the words memorized! So when she sees the picture, she knows what words go with it, without actually reading, and seems to have them (ALL!) aced. But, when we cover the picture so she can't see it and doesn't know what page we're on, she cannot get the words. At ALL. She can identify the letter itself, but when asked to sound out each letter, she starts to stress out and struggle.


Now the question: I backed up and made sure she knows all of the sounds the letters make. (DH spent time with her learning phonograms, and though she had them mostly down, so I thought this was a done deal). I would say she is at 80%, still struggling with some of the vowel sounds. But I am discovering that she may not know them because she isn't HEARING them....Not a hearing problem, but a perception problem??


Here's where my question is. Today I discovered that she cannot say (and maybe hear?) the difference between many short vowel sounds. Especially, she gets short e and short a all messed up. They mostly come out as short a. So for instance, the word "egg" is pronounced by her as "ayyy-gg", and so she thinks it starts with an "a". When I say "eh, eh, eh-gg....eh,eh,ehx-zit" she says back "ay-gg" and "ayg-zit". SWIM? I don't know what to do about it. I don't think she's pulling my leg. She also gets short e confused with short i. For instance, when I was short e, trying the word enter, I said "eh, eh, ehn-ter". She says "ih, ih, ihn-ter". Yikes!!


Do you know of any special drills or ways to approach this problem? I'm not sure where to start! I pulled out my OPG today with renewed interest (never made it through it last time around), and am hoping for something inspirational in there. Other resource ideas?


TIA! - Stacey in MA

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We also teach the vowels in a particular order so that the student has mastered the vowel I well before the E is even introduced.


We use a salt/sand try for the child to repeat over and over the letter name and the sound it makes along with a word or two that has the same beginning sound (A says /a/ as in apple and...)


I sometimes supplement having the student tracing the letter that we are working on, on a piece of drawing paper repeating the letter name and letter sound.


So, for example, we introduce the letter A (showing the letter on a flashcard, saying it and hearing it) and have the student make the letter A in the salt tray over and over, usually adding one or two words that start with that same sound. After the student has mastered the sound, for some students taking weeks while most can learn it in a day or so, we work on the next letter. If the child is old enough and they are ready to start reading words we'll only introduce words with the letters that they have learned.


Eventually, we work our way through all of the vowels and the rest of the consonants.


Learning these vowel sounds is critical for spelling so make sure she has them down correctly :).

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