How to Teach Phonograms Using a Montessori Word List

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Phonograms are combinations of letters that create unique sounds that may not sound exactly like the phonetic expressions of these letter combinations. For example, the "ew" in few does not sounds like "Eh, Wuh," as a phonetic reading would lead one to believe. Instead, it sounds more like a long "u" sound. Once a child understands phonetic reading, he needs to be introduced to phonograms so that his reading vocabulary will not be hampered by his inability to pronounce words correctly. One way to introduce and practice common phonograms is the use of Montessori word lists.

  • Word list packets for common phonogram groups. For example, ew, ue and words that have u in the middle and end in e all have an "oo" sound.

1 Have the child

Have the child sit with you at a table. You should not do this lesson in a group, so you should be sitting on the same side of the table with the child and the two of you should be focused on the lesson at hand.

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2 Show the child

Show the child the cover of the word list packet. You can introduce it by saying that the same sound can be made in many different ways. For example, you might introduce the phonogram "ee" by saying, "We can make the 'ee' sound in lots of different ways."

3 Read through the first list

Read through the first list. You should introduce the phonograms one at a time, so only deal with the phonogram on the first list for now. If it is "ea" making an "ee" sound, then you may have words like mean, bean and lean. Tell the child, "We can make an 'ee' sound using 'ea,' just like in these words." Have the child read through the list with the knowledge that even though the words may not phonetically look like they should have an "ee" sound, that they do. This will make the reading easier than you may expect. If you experience difficulty, you can read through the list with the child before having them read the list alone. However, consult your child's instructor before doing this as some teachers prefer that you not assist in this manner.

4 Work through the other lists

Work through the other lists. In the "ee" group you will also have an "ee" list and possibly an "ie" list, depending on your school's curriculum. With each list, repeat the same thing that you did with the first list, saying "We can make an 'ee' sound using 'ie' (for example)." Read through the list together with the child reading the words to you so that you can watch for mispronunciations.

5 Keep the word

Keep the word list packets in an accessible place. The child should be encouraged to use them on her own whenever she wishes by reading through the lists quietly and then replacing them.

  • Some children have a very hard time with phonograms and may need additional help. Word list packets are not the only way to teach phonograms, so adjust your lessons to fit the needs of your students.