I'm often asked to answer questions like the ones S. asked me this morning.
I thought to post the questions and my answers here, since others are probably asking similar questions:
I was thrilled to receive my Soundabet materials! I've watched the DVD and now I have a few questions to get me started.
1. Do you start the year writing everything in the king capital letters and then progress to a mixture of king and queen letters for names and sentences? Am I right in understanding that the kids started with the king deck for mastery and then progressed to the queen deck?
2. I'm not familiar with the sounds changes to QU, R, W, and Y.. Could you explain a little about that?
3. Is the Y ever sounded as /y/? I thought the kids said EE whenever they went through the Soundabet.
4. Is the king U sounded as long u and the queen u as the short u?
5. Is the Q alone sounded as /kwa/ and the QU as /coo/?
I'll try to answer your questions:
1. I start with the king's capital letters to avoid the bdpq ambiguities. How quickly I move to the lowercase depends on the kids, but I start there. I don't like to confuse kids.
2. When Soundabet was born, I used the same sounds for QU, R, W, and Y that I had been taught in first grade back in the fifties. In 2002, I presented Soundabet to a roomful of speech and language specialists who suggested I try coo for QU etc. I tried their suggestions and found them to be significant improvements, so I made the switch. However, Soundabet works with the old sounds, too, (the kwuh for QU, etc.) I used as a little guy, and so I accept either the old sounds (the parents in your class will teach the old sounds) or the new ones that Soundabet uses.
3. Say yellow really slowly (or yes, yell, whatever). See if yellow doesn't sound like: "eee -e-ll-ow." And, of course, Tony, Danny, Nancy, and Yvonne will totally get ee for y. The other sounds Y usually makes are borrowed from I long i as in Kyle and short i as in myth. If you never teach "yuh" your kids won't be harmed one tiny little bit. Yuh, after all, is just ee with a schwa. (eeuh)
4. U makes two sounds in Soundabet, long as in unicorn and short as the medial sound in sun. The two sounds look exactly the same. I did this on purpose to force the kids to read the prompting word at the bottom of the card. I wanted the basic Soundabet to include this visual ambiguity to force students to understand you have read and apply contextual clues to know what sound to make. Windy. A windy day, or a windy road?
5. The Q alone appears in very few words. I teach QU as a unit because it almost always appears that way. Al Qaeda is the only exception that comes to mind, and I'm not likely to teach that word in kindergarten.
Good luck with Soundabet. Trust yourself to experiment with it, make it yours, and employ your own creativity with it...your creativity with Soundabet is what will make it really fantastic in your classroom.