To “Phonic” Or Not?

That almost sounds racy doesn’t it?

Believe me, nothing racy about phonics.


Just google “the effectiveness of phonics” and you’ll see all kinds of debates … about whether or not it works and if it is necessary to teach children phonics.

The thing is that for most children, I think it does work.


But for some, especially it seems a larger proportion of those who were adopted older from China, it just doesn’t click.


For Larry, it has never clicked, but I do see him doing some blending and sounding/guessing now with a lot more confidence.

And amazingly, he has memorized a plethora of words. And he reads well I think for less than 2 years of immersion English.

This post though, I wanted to share what I just witnessed.

And that is my big girl blending like I’ve never seen before.

Was it the VISUAL aspect of it?

The ones pictured above are the ones we used today for our short 10-minute phonics lesson, that I stopped BEFORE she was ready to quit (well-known secret among seasoned teachers that I’m just now learning and implementing). 😉

She has never seemed to “get” the blending until today, and she said …








and even … FLOWED.

And the best part was … she used CONTEXT and words she knows to figure out that COUCH is couch and TOUCH is touch, even though the OU in each word is making a different sound.

Now not to leave my other kindergartner out, little man was actually rocking out some C-V-C words himself. He did better than I was expecting as well!

He said






He really rocked it on POT as he put it all together without his usual style of P-AH-Tuh. Instead he just said, “POT!” 🙂

I gave him a “shot” (pun totally intended) at a consonant blend and he even read …


… without my prompting. I know, perhaps a poor word choice, but we are working on the SH sound in speech, so you get it all done any way you can LOL!

For anyone wondering, I used different color caps for different blends–vowels for instance are red while vowel blends are orange, consonants are blue while consonant blends are green and then light blue is for endings like -y, -ed, -ing, -es.

We will be using our Alpha-Caps again (and if anyone has some red ones who sees me IRL, I need some more … and some more orange and green too, though M keeps me well-supplied … but I’ll always take more!). BTW, this is a TOTALLY free resource … and is GREEN too. 🙂

I will be adding more to our collection, but once I got started I realized how true it is that if children can learn these blends and special endings coupled with context and thinking of the words they already know (even if they don’t know how they are spelled), they really can read almost anything!

**I have since created some sheets we use with our Alpha-Caps. They are totally optional, but they have made our word work more purposeful and structured. I decided others might like to use them as well! I also included several pages in the resource with more descriptions of how I put together and use the Alpha-Caps. My Repurposed for Word Work resource is available in my TpT store.**

I have plans in the future to make some Number-Caps, and am thinking on how I can use colors to correlate with place value. Still working that out in my brain, so if you have ideas, please do share.


6 thoughts on “To “Phonic” Or Not?

  1. The pics won’t load for me (prob my internet connection in the sticks), but I read all your text. My 6-year old doesn’t read well yet (only short words), so I love hearing about your methods. English is my second language, and I still struggle with phonics (making it hard to teach it). My whole English vocabulary was learned by sight, so I feel for your son:)

  2. 5ennie, I just used Milk Jug caps if that helps. Around here, the WHOLE milk has a red cap, skim milk has light blue, 2% dark blue, and fat free is the green I think. These are the caps that actually screw on (rather than the ones that just pop on and off; I don’t like those for Alpha-Caps).

    But anyway, on the green caps I wrote blends like “br” and “ch” and then on the red ones just the 5 vowels, 21 consonants on the dark blue caps, and vowel blends on the orange caps (“ae”, “igh”, etc.), and then the light blue I wrote “-ed”, “-ing”, etc.

    Hope that helps. It basically allowed the children to really see the connections b/t word endings and piecing it all together, using like colors for vowel blends, consonant blends, etc. Oh and I always tell them EVERY SINGLE ENGLISH word has a vowel, period, so they need to always have a red cap if making words from a pile of caps. This helps too in the beginning.

  3. Great photos! Love the smiles! I like that when we homeschool, we get to decide which “tools” will work for our kids and it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. We are using phonics for spelling. One of my kids needs that. The other one really doesn’t, but he’s been roped into it too, because it’s just easier for me!

  4. Leslie…will you just homeschool MY littles alongside of yours? 😉 Only partly joking! 🙂 Love this idea…and I agree…..phonics do NOT work for every child…worked fine for my bio kiddos but my sweet Chinese son is having a heck of a time with it….the rules are constantly being broken and ou says one sound in touch and then another in couch and a different sound in wound! sometimes y says ee and sometimes it says long i and the list goes on and on and he’s just so frustrated! He can read the simple 3 letter words and understands the silent e concept, that it bosses the first letter so kit becomes kite, but oh the rule breakers…just try teaching the sigh words one through ten…one is not in any way phonetic!! He asked me why it isn’t won? and why does the a sometimes say o sound as in all why isn’t it spelled oll or boll?? Thanks for sharing!!! Holly

  5. Awesome Leslie…just love your reusable ideas ( milk caps). I agree phonics works for some and not so well for others…BUT I think it is worth it for everyone to be exposed to it. If anything it provides another strategy if they come across a word they don’t know.! You make homeschooling sound like something I woud definitely love doing!

  6. Leslie… I’m one of the fence riders on this one. Phonics works for some, not others. My oldest daughter, swore by it; my son Carl was the one: “huh (?)… oh, yea… if it works, ok I’ll use it”. Read everything in sight from early on & drove his public school teachers nuts! (tehe tehe). Now, Guo (home schooled, turning 16 yrs tomorrow–eek), who has been reading for about 4.5 years has begun to copy Carl. Oddly enough color coding has worked for him too.
    We have expanded in to our color coding from language arts to a full writing program, speech making, and public presentations for 4H.
    Barbara 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s