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Cheerful Children’s Book connects /ch/ sound

/Ch/ is a digraph – two letters that make one sound. “Chester’s Way” by Kevin Henkes is an entertaining connection to /ch/. Chester and Wilson enjoy the same interests – an obvious indicator that they are best friends. A girl in their neighborhood named Lily enters the story as a cheery outsider who does things HER way. This book proves a winner for both adults and children. Chester’s name serves as a great example of /ch/. Also, we want physical items that have /ch/ like “chair,” “chain,” or “cherry.” I’ve seen teachers point to their chin as a visual cue and I have also seen teachers have students say “Choo-choo” when they first learn the sound.



Itsy Bitsy Short /i/

A common visual cue used with short /i/ is to act out itching. I discovered “Itsy Bitsy” Spider by Keith Chapman at the public library this summer. Not only does it include many opportunities to hear short /i/, there are many animal sounds. This would be a great book to read for examples of onomatopoeia.


House Hunting with /h/

One of my favorite authors is Eric Carle. Students can be swept up by all of the colors and whimsical mixed media in his stories. Carle’s “A House for Hermit Crab” is a great literature connection to /h/. When I read it, I remember a class pet hermit crab my teacher allowed us to take turns caring for.


D is for David

The consonant /d/ is a tricky one for some students. They reverse it in their writing with /b/. They may even produce the /b/ sound instead of saying /d/. The key is, again, multiple experiences including a connection to literature. “No, David!” By David Shannon is a quick read but a solid example of /d/.



A Cap Salesman Connects Short /a/

Short /a/ is fun to teach students because it also has a visual cue – we put our hand under our jaw when we say /a/. Visuals like apples are great objects. My favorite /a/ connection to literature is “More Caps for Sale” by Esphyr Slobodkina with Anne Marie Mulhearn Sayer. This is a childhood favorite of mine and it continues to be a staple in public libraries. I would recommend this book go in everyone’s personal library. Happy reading!


A Blue Ox Connects to Short /o/

Listening to an example of the short /o/ in literature like “Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox The Pancake Adventure” by Matt Luckhurst is a great way to connect all of the dots. /O/ is a short vowel which means we also give a visual cue in tutoring for this sound. We point our finger to our open mouth. Visual cues and connecting to literature are strategies families can do at home whether it’s during homeschooling, bedtime stories, or after a private tutoring session.

“M” is for Maggie

How many ways does a student have to experience hearing, seeing, and touching a new sound that’s just been introduced? With usually only 30 minutes in a classroom, we hope to give them as many different experiences as possible. This includes a connection to literature. I read “Muggie Maggie” by Beverly Cleary after introducing /m/. I love this book because Maggie is feeling stubborn about learning cursive in third grade, something many students can relate to. This is a great way to make connections in private tutoring, too!

Why Private Tutoring?

Chalk Art by Sarah Booth

I left my 30-hour Orton-Gillingham training wishing someone had taught me how to read using this method. It has a nice routine that flows for both the teacher and the student. There are many opportunities for verbal, tactile, and kinestheic practice. I’ve used other reading programs, one which was also the Orton-Gillingham method. No matter the program, I believe there are some advantages to using them in private tutoring vs. the whole group classroom.

  • Less distractions. (classroom phone ringing, loud-speaker announcements, students leaving & entering the classroom, teachers visiting to “collaborate”).
  • Small group vs. large group. The Arizona public schools I’ve taught in have class sizes close to and usually over 25 students per general education classroom.
  • Smaller small-group instruction. As a resource teacher, my caseloads in a couple Phoenix public elementary school districts have exceeded 30 students. The ideal small group is 4-5 students but at times, I’ve had 12-15 students at a time for special education services.
  • More frequent feedback to students and families. Keeping a home-school connection is key to student success. At school, my students have graphs, sticker charts, and they write their own goals. We don’t revisit our goals every time we meet because of time-restraints. Private tutoring, on the other hand, offers more opportunities to see where we are and where we want to be.

I’m excited to meet with families and develop an individual tutoring plan for students.