Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Ordering

I am now back from vacation and filling orders.

Please email me so I can send you a Summer 2014 order form. Do not use an older form as it contains some discontinued items.

I am revising the Flash Cards. They are discontinued for now and are not available to order.

I've dropped the price on the Kings and Queens decks of cards.

Again,  please get a Summer Order Form to place an order.

Have a good summer—what's left of it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Taking a Break

I will be taking a break from filling Soundabet orders beginning on June 16 and extending through July 16. If you have already sent in an order, I will receive it in time to fill it before I leave on my break.

Please wait until mid-July to send in future orders.

Thanks!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Testimonial

From time to time people who've been using Soundabet for some time email me requesting re-orders and take the time to say some nice things about Soundabet. It makes my day when I get those and I like to share them here. Yesterday I got this one:

Hi Dan,
I purchased and used your program at another school, several years ago.  Now I'm at a different school and interested in purchasing another set, since the other one was purchased by my previous school and not me, personally.
I really appreciate your philosophy about kindergartners not being too young to learn some digraphs and diphthongs--too many times random words are thrown into leveled books that contain them.
Love your blog too!  You're dynamite!
Thank You an Happy Teaching!

Best regards,L. C.
Resource Specialist K-2Early Literacy Teacher

Thanks to all who've sent me these!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Blending Bigger Words

Right around the 100th day of school many if not most of the class has mastered the basic 41 Soundabet sounds. Our emphasis shifts to blending the sounds we know into words we recognize.

For some children it is best to begin with very easy words, mostly three-letter consonant/vowel/consonant words like "hid" and "fix."

But there is NO reason to confine the words you give students to blend to such simple (and often boring) words.

In fact it can be counterproductive to go too slowly because you will lose the brighter, quicker learners.

With the Soundabet onboard, you can practice CVC words that include one or more digraphs. Words like "north" are easily decodable for kids who have the decided advantage of having learned the Soundabet.

And more.

There is no reason to confine yourself to one syllable words. I have found that a lot of kids in my class enjoy the delicious challenge and satisfaction of tackling multisyllablic words.

Here is what the pocket chart in my kindergarten classroom after a ten-minute session of blending words.




At the top are those easy three-letter CVC words. We used them as warm-ups.

Things got a lot more fun for them when I challenged them to read "complicated" "northern" and "california"—words that they read with ease and great pleasure.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sometimes My Students Are My Teachers

When I was a youngster back in the 50’s school was hard for me. I struggled in almost every subject—the 3 R’s especially—and I was keenly aware that many of my classmates found school easier than I did. I liked lunchtime, P.E., recess, and, when no reading was involved, science.

My difficulties in language arts had a lot to do with inspiring me to come up with Soundabet. A tool like Soundabet ought to make it easier for teachers to show the code that underlies reading and writing. If Soundabet could save other kids from struggling like I did, then it was worth going to the trouble of bringing it into the world.

Of course, not every kid struggles with language arts. For some kids, reading and writing come naturally.

Friday I was taking one of my English language learner through the mid-year DIBELS benchmark assessments. I was working on the test that is said to measure how many letters a student can name in 60 seconds. 

The page I was working on looks like this.



I gave him the scripted instructions and started the stopwatch.

“Karate.” I thought I heard him say.

“What?” I asked him, thinking that he had misunderstood the directions.

“Karate!” I thought I heard him say again, though it sounded like it ended in the “D” sound, more like “karoddy” than “karate.” 

He pointed to the top line, and drew his finger across the first five letters (C-R-O-D-Y) and blended them into a make-believe word, “Crody.” 

He couldn’t understand why his answer confused me. 

Sometimes it takes me a little while to catch up with my students.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blendmaster Game

In my kindergarten we have been playing the "Blendmaster" Game.

In Blendmaster, a child is selected randomly to be the "Blendmaster." He or she comes up to the pocket chart and takes out two black cards and one red card and arranges them on the pocket chart in a BLACK—RED—BLACK pattern.

This will form a Consonant-Vowel-Consonant word, either a familiar word that we have heard before or a brand new uncoined word that could be making it world's first appearance.

Having built the word, he or she picks out a classmate (we do this randomly by drawing straws) to sound out the word. If the classmate successfully sounds out the word, they become the new blendmaster. If not, we pick another classmate to sound out the word.

Here is a photograph of the pocket chart as it looked when we finished this morning's session of the Blendmaster Game.



Notes:

I don't worry about non-standard spellings. Yes, I know how to spell chief. But at this early point in learning to read we can let that lesson wait for later. And yes, the kid who put BEECH up on the board was thinking more about sand and waves than a deciduous tree.

As for the two vowel-consonant-vowel words (Archy and Ella), well, we decided we'd let them get up there because we know and like them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Display Cards versus Flash Cards

Here is a photo showing the Display Cards and the Flash Cards together as I ship them out.

The cards are on WHITE card stock. The photo makes them look tinted, but they're white.
As I hope this photo makes clear, the Flash Cards (upper right) are 8.5 inches wide and 5.5 inches tall. They come with labels to affix to the back sides (shown upper left) that suggest stories to tell so that you can explain why upper and lowercase letter forms sometimes match and sometimes differ.


The Display Cards (lower left) are smaller. They are intended to be glued to a Display Board.

Display Cards are used to present all 41 Soundabet Sounds together as a whole while singing the Soundabet song (like the ABC song).

Flash Cards are for teaching about sounds one by one in more depth.

More info on Display Cards

More info on Flash Cards

Saturday, January 19, 2013

No Fax

If you have some older Soundabet materials you may see a phone number and fax contact listed on them.

As a cost-saving measure, I have abandoned the phone line and fax number. You can still reach me via US mail and e-mail.

Be well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Game for Teaching Blending

Here's a way to use the Soundabet King's or Queen's cards to teach blending. I do this in a small group setting, though it would work fine with individual kids at home or in whole class settings, too.

Tell the kids that there are two kind of Soundabet sounds: the vowels which have the red letters & the consonants which have the black letters. (I add that the consonants are girl cards and much more likely to behave themselves as expected. The vowels are boys and tend to act up a bit more. I don't necessarily recommend this, I'm just telling you what I do—and shhhh! it works!)

I tell the children that they need both black cards and red cards to make most words. I tell the kids that it takes both "girl" red cards and "boy" black cards to make little word babies. Somehow this makes perfect sense to their five year old minds.

I also say that all the sounds have to be in your mouth together and come out all snuggled up to each other for the word to come out whole. Again, this helps kids who have trouble with the idea of blending.

As I'm telling the kids this, I am putting the cards out in an array where the black cards and red cards are separated. I make no effort to arrange the cards within each type in any particular order. Just put the red cards together in a row or rows and the black cards same.

Looked like this today:

They enjoyed the game.


To play:

1. Ask one of the students to pick a number. In this case the boy on the left picked "4" and I counted across the top to 4. I landed on the OU card. I took that card out of the array and put it near the students.

2. Ask for a number to help you find a black card to go with it. The second boy from the left picked "5" and I counted to 5 stopping on the F card. I pulled it out.

3. Repeating this process, we pulled out an L card.

4. Now we arrange these three cards and see if we can form any real words from the cards selected. In this case we could make the word, "FOUL" and they did know what it meant. "Like a foul ball in baseball," one of them said. The boy on the right said, "We hunt for fowl," and, you guessed it, I did not correct him—I congratulated him for knowing about that kind of fowl. Later on, this boy can learn about the spellings of these homonyms, foul and fowl, in fourth grade, or whenever they cover that stuff. For my purposes, he "got" it.

5. Each time a word can be created we give a point to the "real words" tally. If we can see "wannabe words" like "LOUF" we tally those, too, but in a separate tally. As you might guess, a game like this builds skills for DIBELS nonsense word fluency assessments later on in the year.

This game practices counting skills as well as blending and phonemic awareness skills. These are good skills for beginning kindergarten kids to use.

Note: You can adapt this game by limiting the cards in the deck to a smaller universe of cards. I do not do this. You might decide differently from me, though, and that's okay! Similarly, you can go for words more advanced than simple CVC words.

Have a look another word we came up with in today's game:


So one little deck of Soundabet cards can go a long way to teaching reading!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Price Increase

Over the holiday I went to my suppliers to restock inventory for next year. It's probably not a surprise to you that I found prices to have gone up. So, though I don't often do this, I've had to increase the prices of Soundabet materials for 2012.

Because I believe in relocalizing our economy, I now use only very local (like in my own home town) suppliers in favor of sourcing my production overseas. The result is much higher costs to me, higher prices for you, and the feeling that I'm doing the right thing overall. My choices make work for people who live nearby me and somehow that helps me sleep better....