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    From the Mailbox: Where Do We Start with Teaching Reading with Bob Books?

    April 26, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    I’m new to your website and I’m really liking your binder set up idea and I’m thinking about changing the way I do reading lessons.  I’ve been doing reading lessons with my 4 year old son using the ideas from the book [I cut out the book name — sorry!].  I like the lessons but he was really needing more phonics and more review of sounds and sight words.  He’s already read Bob Books Set 1 books 1-8 (along with other books from the library) but the last few books were a big struggle so I think I’m going to start with day 22 of your lessons just to back up and give him review.

    Anyways, on each of the lessons you have sounds and sight words to review, do I do those in addition to the sounds in the daily, odd, even and days of the weeks?  I’m pretty confused about how to get started.  Also where do I keep track of the sight words he already knows? Do each of those go into the sections (daily, odd, even etc.) also?

    I usually assume that for every email I receive like this, there are five more of you wondering the same thing — that’s why I typically answer my emails here on the blog.

    Okay … so let’s get started.

    First, I’d like to point out that the Bob Books are progressive, building one upon another. The easiest way I can think of to figure out a starting place is to have the child read one (or two if she’s really breezing through them) each day until you find a weakness. At that point, you can find the lessons that fit the book she needs help on. In the beginning, you might find that you work on a book, but then the next book is still fine, but eventually you will find what I call the “ceiling — the place she’s stopped at in her learning. As her teacher, it’s your job to help her break through and ceiling and keep climbing.

    Here are some related thoughts:

    • Backing up is A-OK when it’s necessary. An example of when I have done this is found in my post The Summer Break Conundrum. I didn’t give a single reading lesson for about two months in the summer, and so I needed an Autumn Rehabilitation Program! If you read the details there, you’ll get an idea of how I deal with review. I think the key is to only do what the child really needs. Otherwise, we frustrate them.
    • Don’t be afraid to skip along in your review. Let’s say you start at Lesson 22, but then in the middle of your review period, you find that he remembers something — he knows. It is okay to speed up. I had one little girl who intuitively grasped some of the concepts as we went along. Sometimes, the only thing we would do during the lessons was read through Bob Books until I discovered the place where she needed coaching. So if you have a book that is intending to teach the “p” sound, for instance, and your child already knows that, don’t be afraid to skip the rest of the lessons on this book once you realize this. He can read the book once, enjoy it, and move on.
    • Some children need more context. With Daughter A., I actually keep the sight words all together written on a piece of lined paper in the daily section, broken up into vague categories. I say vague because I have basically grouped together words that sort of rhyme and/or are associated together, but may or may not follow the same rules. So, for instance, she reads “do, don’t, Do, does” all together. She also reads “my, bye, fly” together. This helps her. She reads these words well in a line like that, and again on a page, but when I isolate them, it is harder for her. Some children are this way, they do a lot of context-based reading, so you have to go with your gut as a teacher. I actually had a time where each sight word was in a sentence for her.
    • You are working with a little one, so you are still easing into the binder system. The system really comes into play when your child starts learning the blends and diphthongs. I don’t always even bother to set up the entire system until we reach that point. I find that once we enter that stage of reading, children tend to not need to review the basic sounds for much longer. I have the sounds written on a piece of lined paper (which I update as needed with new sounds as we go along). I have Daughter Q. review every sound every day. It only takes a second and she doesn’t mind. Of course, if a child was annoyed by this, I’d probably change it (see my post The Danger of “Drill and Kill” Learning).
    • If your child knows something backwards and forwards, please feel free to remove it from the binder! My oldest child was sort of hyperlexic, and I didn’t even finish the official lessons with him. We just sort of transitioned into having him read aloud, with me over his shoulder correcting the occasional mistake (which was sometimes more of a pronunciation issue). The lessons would have been overkill for him. With Daughter A., who is learning to read later than him (she’s 6), the only thing I have removed from the binder entirely is the review of the basic sounds. You really have to know your students. If your hunch is that your child doesn’t need the review, you are probably right. I’d move the review card quickly through the binder system. If you are afraid to remove it entirely, put it in the 31 tab. Only half the months have 31 days, and some of those will fall on a day you aren’t doing lessons. This will keep the information there in case you need to reintroduce it, but also help you avoid excessive review.

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