In this post, I am going to tell you how I got 21 of my 27 Kindergarten students to master 100% of their consonant-vowel-consonant words! This year, (2013) I have been especially focused on teaching my Kindergartners to sound out words. However, I really haven’t given the children very many formal lessons on it, like I did last year. Instead, this year we have been singing my new sound blending songs since around the beginning of November! And I have to say that I am ecstatically pleased with how this set of songs turned out, and how they are working to help children learn!
I have been working with my co-songwriter and arranger Mike Cravens on this project off and on since last summer. Indeed, I have been kicking ideas around in my head for songs to help children learn to read CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) words for several years. The CVC books themselves have always been top sellers and personal favorites of mine for classroom use, and teachers would often ask me which CD or DVD went with them. And to that question, I was always stumped, and had NO idea how to answer at all! I certainly would not recommend teaching children to memorize the spellings of all of those CVC words; we learn to spell those words by sounding them out and writing the sounds that we hear, of course. Of course, that was the answer; we needed songs to help the children learn to do just that.
Naturally, many children learn to sound out and read words quite efficiently without the assistance of music. But I was reaching for the children that might normally fall below that baseline, who could actually be taught to sound out the words if it were taught to them in an alternative method.
So, this is what I tried to do in song:
1. I took the steps that are needed in teaching children to sound out words, and applied them to each word family in song.
2. I changed the words for each verse to reflect each new word family word, and then used each new word in a sentence.
3. I added movements to made it a more brain friendly activity that would “stick.”
4. My best music buddy Mike Cravens added his musical magic via some fantastic arrangements that are fun and motivating, as usual.
Here is a song list, too:
1: Just Two Sounds
2: Little Two Letter Words
3: How Do You Sound It Out?
4: At Family Song
5: An Family Song
6: It Family Song
7: In Family Song
8: Ig Family Song
9: Ip Family Song
10: Op Family Song
11: Ot Family Song
12: Ox Family Song
13: Et Family Song
14: En Family Song
15: Eg Family Song
16: Ug Family Song
17: Ut Family Song
18: Un Family Song
19: Nonsense Words
Take a look and see how some of these songs turned out! Here is one example, performed by my good friend Julie Prager’s class, looking super cute in their jammies.
There are also some free downloads of visual aids for you to use when using the CD. I hold them up for the children to read and blend the words while we are singing the songs. I hope that you find them useful!
I found the section for the Nonsense Word Song to be extremely helpful in getting the kids to practice sounding out random, nonsense words, too. This helped me prepare my students for the nonsense word portion of the DIBELS tests. (This download is included with the other visual aides and is part of just one big download for the entire CD.)
I have to say that I even I was totally amazed at how well the children learned to sound out words this year by using the songs. I started testing the children on sounding out their CVC words around our 100th day of school, and even though I suspected that they were doing quite well, I really didn’t expect the level of success that I saw! This is what I found:
I have 27 students. The class average is 92.2% correct on the CVC test. I think that this is AMAZING, considering we haven’t even finished our second trimester, and that I have hardly done any directed lessons on how to sound out words. We really haven’t spent a lot of time on it, other than singing the songs, and in sounding out some words off of our pocket chart chorally a couple of times a week in the morning after our calendar time.
* 21 of them got 10 out of 10 CVC words correct on their test! And that includes words with all five vowel sounds in them that I hadn’t even introduced yet.
* 3 of them got 9 out of 10 CVC words correct on their test. One of them gave me an incorrect sound for one of the letters, and therefore produced the wrong word. The other two children blended the word incorrectly.
* One child got 6 out of 10 words correct, but can accurately blend the sounds together when I say them. Therefore, I believe that he is on his way to getting there; he just needs a bit more time. Learning to blend the sounds together is really more than half the battle! The other half is learning to read and “process” the letters that you see and say the sounds aloud, remember them and then blend them together to make a word. It’s a tall order for a little one.
* There are two more children that are struggling. One child got 4 out of 10 words correct, but can also accurately blend sounds together when I say the sounds. He is also on his way. Another child got 2 out of 10 words correct. Both children have other issues in play that I cannot reveal in a public forum, of course. However, they are making progress, and I am confident that they will have it down by the end of the year!
I worked REALLY hard with my class on sounding out words last year, and spent a lot of class time on it. We only got these type of results by the very end of the year, AFTER we had completed the units on every single unit. That wasn’t the case this year. To be fair, this is a higher group than I had last year, but certainly not the highest I’ve ever had by any means. And this is a Title One school, with more than 50% of the students qualifying for a free lunch.
Thanks again to Julie Prager’s wonderful class for demonstrating these songs for us, and for allowing us to come and video tape in her classroom! I really appreciate it!
Here’s a look at the Sound Blending Songs DVD!
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