When two vowels go walking…

“When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking”. I first heard this in one of the animations on the amazing free reading for kids website Starfall. It’s a beautiful little rhyme that my daughter is doing her best to remember, and the meaning of which is slowly sinking in.

The name of a letter (alphabet) and its phonic value (the sound it makes in words) is something that can be easily learned by young children. I used a simple homemade chart to teach the alphabet and phonics values to my daughter when she was three.

When we start to read using phonics, the simple CVC structure is fantastic. It’s the obvious starting point and gives the child a foot on the second rung of the reading ladder. As they move further up the ladder, new rules must be learned to help them cope with more complex words. I have found that sites like Starfall and TV shows such as Alphablocks are really useful in making the leap to the next reading level.

At home, we have now progressed to the fourth workbook in the Jolly Phonics series. The focus is now on the sounds made by two consecutive vowels in a word. That’s where the little rhyme from the beginning comes in. It is also used in the workbook. The rule being that when two vowels are used consecutively (or either side of a consonant – the silent e rule) the alphabet name of the first vowel determines the sound.

The first two such vowel pairs we encountered (‘ai’ as in train and ‘oa’ as in goat) took a while to sink in. The reading prints I have been making (see downloads) focussed on the use of these for quite a while (I have yet to upload the latest) and I think that the concept has begun to sink in. Hopefully tomorrow I will have a little time to make a new print that will take us to the next stage. For the time being, we will concentrate on the useful little ‘vowel sound book’ that can be made from two pages of the workbook and start to explore the other vowel sounds.

With more time than ever now being taken up with work and study, the morning 10 minute practice has become one of the most important parts of my day. I am sure that once she begins to read independently, my daughter will enter a new realm of understanding and confidence in her English.

One step at a time though.

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