How Our Phonics
Worksheets Work

Our phonics worksheets put two new phonics systems to work: English Decoder and SI. Both are designed to avoid reading-instruction speed bumps. How common are these obstacles? Here are some of our travel notes:

  • 1. exceptions (when a reader uses normal phonics sounds/ rules but these don't tell him or her how to correctly pronounce a word) ie. to, bear, heart. Travel advice: We found this road hazard in 25+ out of 100 words in normal English paragraphs.
  • and

  • 2. multiple sounds (when phonics instruction leaves a reader with several sounds to choose from when confronting a group of letters). ie. /a/ can say the sounds in ape, at, author, or all. Which one fits in " father"?
    WARNING: this road block to smooth progress was found in nearly 1/3 of the phonics flash cards we purchased.

    Here is how speed bump avoidance worked for us.

    In English Decoder we fixed the problem of learned letter sounds not matching the sounds we use to really say a word (exceptions). Here is an example of how

    son, won, come and mother can be explained with a detail about where the letter o appears in each word. Specifically, the "o" is described based on the letters it appears in front of.

    "o" when it comes before n, l, final /me/ , or the second th sound:
    sounds like the first sound in umbrella.

    So now the sound we taught matched the sound we spoke when reading. (My grandfather used to say "Everything is easy once you know how". I guess so. Thanks Grandpa.)

    Have you read this stat. on our homepage? "Our system will allow you to pronounce 95 out of 100 English words correctly." The sound for "o" in "won" is part of our English Decoder system.

    Letter sounds just like it, accurately describe how to say 95 out of 100 words in a normal English paragraph. This stat was counted out and tested on the first five chapters of Proverbs in the New American Standard English translation.

    The second speed bump (Which sound should I use? My reading lesson gave me a few choices.) is also fixed with English Decoder. More detailed letter descriptions in English Decoder naturally fit one and only one sound. There are not any extra sound choices that fit the explanation "o before l, final me etc.

    What else? English Decoder is in-context from day one, and uses Proverbs as text. We would like and use it if your family had made it! (Of course the few pictures of our own kids are, for us, a huge draw!)

    SI SI SI

    With SI : a reader looks at a new or practice word and can see exactly what sound to say. For instance s stands for the zzz sound.
    arms and
    are no problem.

  • How SI avoids speed bump one? The marked sounds match pronunciation.
  • Steering around speed bump two with SI: There is only one possible sound when a beginner is looking at a word. So questions of choosing are avoided.

    We first used these phonics worksheets ourselves for review. They worked very well. Later we saw that they could stand alone for a child who will either:
    one, remember the words easily or
    two, pick up patterns in the words and apply them later to unmarked text.

    It could be a starting point for a parent in search of download-and-start simple. You could likely even skip the directions (lots of people do normally).

    Other useful information about SI: It is only in worksheet format. It was started this way. It works best in this set up. English Decoder works primarily in the book Teaching Your Child To Read With Proverbs. Pages are pulled from the book for phonics worksheets.

    Both English Decoder and SI make our Phonics Worksheets work. The printable versions are indexed here:

    Go To Printable Phonics Worksheet from How Our Phonics Worksheets Work

    Return to new-phonics-tool homepage.

    Had you noticed that cute kid at the top of the page-the one on the big red truck tailgate? OK, I am partial. He's ours. His grandfather was pinch-hitting on reading lessons.