Easy-for-Me Teaching Kits
They say it best themselves:" Easy-For-Me" Reading Program is a careful blend of solid phonics instruction and sight word acquisition combined with structural analysis of words." With a strong focus on phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension, its also a research-based program. Developed first as "parts" (Alphabet Tales, SnapWords, and Easy-for-Me Readers), these are now available in comprehensive grade level language arts sets with all the "parts" cohesively coordinated through a Teaching Manual providing not only detailed lessons but also a wealth of worksheets and activities.
The Teaching Manual is a gem, providing 77 self-paced lessons, carefully laid out (not scripted, though) and very teacher-friendly. Theres very little prep you just need a familiarity with the TM. All materials needed are provided in the Kit with the exception of teacher and student-sized whiteboards, markers in two colors, and a pocket chart (sold separately or make your own). Utilizing the various Child1st products expertly woven together introducing sounds through a story and reading through word acquisition. Instruction includes a visual plus: hand (and sometimes body) motions. I love that there are a mere eight pages describing the methodology and providing How-tos" for the book (not pages and pages of teacher-ese to wade through). However, what is covered here is important how to introduce and facilitate learning of a new set of sight words, how to reinforce learning with body motions, how to utilize whiteboards, and how to incorporate Fingermapping (a method using fingers to represent the pattern of a word). A couple of things from this section are noteworthy. First, she fully describes Fingermapping a skill used throughout the lessons as a way of identifying the letter patterns of a word. This seems a very useful technique but a word of caution you might need to learn a new skill if your fourth (ring) and little (pinkie) fingers dont naturally want to hang out together (like mine dont). The other is a little hint that is a practical and useful idea. She suggests keeping whiteboard markers for each child in a tube sock. Why, you ask? The tube socks can be used as an always available whiteboard eraser. She does suggest washing the sock regularly!
The bulk of the TM is the detailed lessons (one page for each) and the reproducible activity worksheets that reinforce the teaching (2-3 pages per lesson). Lessons have icons to designate the lesson type introducing sounds (Alphabet Tales and Stylized Letter Teaching Cards), blending sounds, sight words (SnapWords), review, reading (Easy-for-Me Readers), and writing--as well as icons to show the focus of the various parts of each lesson. These lesson segments illustrate the effort to appeal to the different learning styles of each child and incorporate opportunities for the student to use their fingers and bodies as part of the learning process. Each lesson provides suggestions for "Teacher Centers," providing follow-up activities that are easily adapted for homeschools. Activity pages are reproducible, well-done, occasionally full-color but typically black and white, and provide more than just paper and pencil type of activities. An accompanying CD provides PDF files for each of the Activity sheets.
There are three sections in the Manual designed to work through introductory phonics sounds and a number of sight words and to teach the child to read through the first set of Easy-for-Me Readers. Each section begins with a page that provides learner goals, materials needed, prep work, word lists, and assessments. Section One covers short "a" and "o" words (books 1-7), Section Two covering short "i" and "u" words (books 8-15) and Section Three finishing up with short "e" words (books 16-22). Teachers are encouraged to start slowly and to proceed at the students pace. The author notes that Sections 2 & 3 will go faster than Section 1.
Additional teaching instruction for SnapWords is included in How to Teach SnapWords, a little booklet that provides a collection of activities designed to teach through the sets of SnapWords. The activities (games, really) use the cards and are grouped into the following categories word recognition, reading, reading/writing connection, structural analysis of words, and phonemic awareness. There is even a suggestion for ESOL (i.e. ELL, ESL) application. These activities are the same as those in Part 2 of the SnapWords Mini-Lessons. This booklet also includes an alphabetical list of all SnapWords.
There is instruction for each Easy-for-Me Reader included with the reader. Teaching ideas from both the Readers and the How to Teach SnapWords are woven into the Teaching Manual.
Writing learning to print the letters and words is part of the instruction from the very beginning. Journaling starts about halfway through the lessons and begins with the student writing down words just learned. Handwriting instruction is clever and often involves the child using fingers/hands to make letters (curved hand looking like a cave for c and then closed for o, etc.) and to illustrate differences in letters such as b and d. Throughout this process, there are lots of little stories which serve as mnemonic devices. The author states clearly that invented spelling is "taboo." She maintains that students need to look for the patterns embedded in our language and I couldnt agree more.
Across the curriculum ideas are provided with each lesson. Many of these are language arts skills (capitalization, punctuation) which serve to push this reading program into the "complete language arts" category. Others (every fifth lesson) include social studies, art, science, geography, etc.
One of the strengths of this approach is its ability to clarify between troublesome words. For instance, the word "here" has a little guy drawn into the letter "r" pointing down. "There" has a teacher-type person pointing across the room drawn into the letter "t" and "where" has a "w" that looks like a person holding their two hands out in the classic sign for "I dont know where".
The Grade 2 Kit continues with additional sets of SnapWords and Easy-for-Me Readers but also moves solidly into spelling instruction. The Grade 2 Teaching Manual is similar in lesson layout to the Grade K-1 Teaching Manual but activity sheets are provided only as PDF files on the accompanying CD. Spelling materials include the Illustrated Book of Sounds and Their Spelling Patterns as well as the Sound Spelling Cards. The Illustrated Book of Sounds and Their Spelling Patterns is a manual that provides Teaching Notes for 128 lessons that span 55 different spelling units that cover all the basic spelling patterns typically covered in elementary grades so the idea is to use this manual with the Grade 2 (through Unit 24) and then continue in following years. An accompanying CD provides PDF files for the Tracking Sheets, Teaching Notes, and Activity Sheets for each unit. Sound Spelling Cards are another set of colorful cards (in their own storage box). These provide visuals for each sound spelling category (154 for 22 categories). Another helpful inclusion in the Grade 2 Kit is a CD that provides PDF files for Beyond Sight Word Activities for the included sets of SnapWords (B, C, F, and N1). These activities begin with the SnapWords and springboard into teaching all the critical elements of reading comprehension, writing, spelling, phonemic awareness, word recognition, fluency, and critical thinking. These activities are game-based and hands-on. All activities are printable and include assessments and tracking sheets. ~ Janice