Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Word Building: Lesson 1 (Part One)

This post is intended to give an example, step-by-step, of an actual lesson with an actual child (mine!) using the Charlotte Mason method for teaching a child to read as detailed in Home Education. I hope to post a more concise version in Word format soon for others who may wish to try these CM reading lessons with their own children.

After spending last week reviewing letter sounds, Punkin began today with her first lesson in "word building"! I'm going to extensively quote page 202 from Home Education as I give examples of how we applied Miss Mason's text in our lesson. I'll type Miss Mason's words in italic. Before I get started, though, I should mention that I printed typed letters onto cardstock and cut them out in preparation for today's lesson. Unfortunately, I'm not particularly thrilled with the result. I plan on redo-ing them for a more uniform shape and size after cutting. They worked for today, though. Just FYI, we did the lesson on my bed, using a sizeable hardback book as a table.

Here's the play by play...

The first exercises in the making of words will be just as pleasant to the child. Exercises treated as a game, which yet teach the powers of the letters, will be better to begin with than actual sentences. Take up two of his letters and make the syllable 'at': tell him it is the word we use when we say 'at home,' 'at school.'

I spelled out "at" with two of my lowercase letter cards, then I told Punkin that the word was "at" as in "at home". She piped up and came up with a few other options like, "at church", "at the store", etc. When she got to "at the pillow" and "at the table", I smiled a little, but then told her we needed to get back to the lesson - no silliness.

You can see that I lined up a column of appropriate consonants on the left side of the mock table. Here's why -

Then put b to 'at'–– bat; c to 'at'––cat; fat, hat, mat, sat, rat, and so on. First, let the child say what the word becomes with each initial consonant... Let the syllables all be actual words which he knows.

At this point, I moved the consonant from the left column to the front of "at". We began with 'b'. I waited for Punkin to read it. Judging from Miss Mason's little quote above, one would expect a child to have an epiphany and realize the new word like it was a piece of cake. Now, I do not wish to shock you, but it did not just click in Punkin's little brain that the word was now "bat". Instead, after I placed the 'b' in front of 'at', she looked at me with a confused expression that seemed to say, "Why did you do that?" It was clear that I needed to fill in between Miss Mason's lines a bit. So, I pointed to the 'b' and asked her to tell me its sound. She did. Then I pointed to "at" and asked her what it said. She didn't remember. Instead, she sounded it out. Technically, Miss Mason wants the children to learn the last two letters of the words by sight as a whole, grouped together, not sounded out. Punkin has been sounding out little words here and there on her own, though, for a while, and she naturally shifted to this mode. I encouraged her to look at "at" again, and just say "at". She did. We started over. I pointed to 'b' again, she gave the sound. I pointed to "at", she said "at". I put the 'b' back in front of "at", pointed to 'b', she said it, pointed to "at", she said it. Then, (all on her own!) she said, "bat!". Hooray! :)

We continued on with the other consonants. I had to repeatedly tell Punkin that "at" said "at", and discourage her from sounding it out each time. It took some practice, but she eventually started to get it.

After we had practice with Punkin telling me what the newly built word said, we shifted gears a little.

"...then let him add the right consonant to 'at', in order to make hat, pat, cat".

So, then we lined up all of the consonants again in their column on the left side of the table with "at" in the center. This time, I told Punkin to choose the consonant (I did not say 'consonant', though, I just said 'letter'), that would make the word "bat". She moved the 'b' to the 'at', and I asked her to tell me what the word said. She told me it said, "bat". Oh, happy day :) I encouraged her with a hug and said something like, "Look, honey! You're building words!". We went through the rest of the words the same way. I said a word, Punkin chose the letter that was needed to make the word, and then she told me what the new word was.

"Set the words in a row, and let him read them off".

I goofed a little here and put the words in a column instead of a row, but Punkin read them all. The lesson was beginning to get a little long - longer than I had planned - and she was beginning to make weird mistakes. You know what Miss Mason so tactfully says... when the children begin to "get stupid", it's time to put the lesson away ;) So, we promptly stopped. Even though Punkin wanted to keep going.

We should have also had time for a little oral spelling of the words, but that will have to wait for the next word-building lesson. I did not time the lesson today, but I'll try to remember to keep better track of how long tomorrow's lesson takes. I'm aiming for no more than 10 minutes.

We're encouraged :) Thanks for reading!

Update: I made new letter cards and they are available on our Understanding Charlotte yahoo group in the files section. Joining is quick and easy :) Just click here!

And, the post about our second word-building lesson is right here :)