Monday, May 24, 2010

A First Reading Lesson

So we had a reading lesson a la Charlotte Mason style today. Turner is five and a half and has learned his sounds and letters. We have listened for rhymes and similar sounds in words, played with words by changing the beginning or ending sounds, but this morning we tried a First Reading Lesson according to the method Charlotte advocated here.

I chose the poem "The Caterpillar" by Christina Rossetti.

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry,
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.

No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

I wanted to start with a word that would capture his attention. I wrote the word furry on a white board and read it aloud. We giggled about it a bit and felt his furry pjs.

He looked carefully at it and found the ur like in his name. I asked him what sound he hears at the end of the word and then what letter he sees. I asked him to find any double letters. (I couldn't help myself from pointing out every phonics rule I saw within the word, if he didn't notice.)

When he felt he knew the word, I had him write it in the air using big arms. He spelled it aloud as he wrote it. I probably should have done this after the next step to give him more practice with the word first, as he hesitated at the end and guessed a g (similar shape as y, goes "underground" with a hook tail).

Then I had copies of the poem with individual words cut out. I only included the first two lines and made six copies. The words were scattered face up, and he found all the words that said furry and gathered them. I had him give one last good look at the word.

Next I had him close his eyes and spell the word aloud as he envisioned it in his mind. I asked him to name the first letter, the last letter, the second letter, the next one.

When he had it down, I had him use magnetic letters to spell the word.

Then he changed the first letter to make rhyming words, hurry and curry. He added blends to make flurry and blurry. After he made the words, I wrote them on a white board for him to read since I didn't have enough letters to make all the words at once. I should have made these words beforehand on index cards to let him read, match, and rearrange. I didn't use words like worry or jury because they don't follow the same spelling pattern.

I did the same thing with the words brown and and. When he knew them, I read the poem, mixed up the three words, and he put them in order.

He gallantly read the words to his brothers, and even added the other words we hadn't gone over to complete the first two lines. That was enough for one morning.

But after getting dressed, he later wrote the words as I dictated them. Actually all I said was brown. He seemed to know just what I was going to do and wrote the rest . . .

with his fabulous flying f.


  1. Beautiful. Just beautiful. A child beginning to read is always beautiful and to be taught by Miss Mason's methods is most beautiful because it is so enjoyable.

  2. I am a new reader to this blog, and I just wanted to say hello and thank you for such an excellent post on a CM style reading lesson! I am looking forward to reading past and future posts.

  3. KRISTINE! I absolutely LOVE this. How amazing. What a fabulous lesson. And gorgeous writing on the cards too. Well done my friend. Turner must have been beaming all day with excitement and just the right amount of sweet pride.

  4. LOVE IT! Can't wait to try it with my little guy. Thanks for the tutorial, Chistine!
    Love form Greta

  5. Teaching a child to read is such a scary thing to me. We didn't pull my daughter out of school until the beginning of second grade so she already knew how to read. But you make it look easier than I would have thought. Great post.

  6. Thank you for the encouraging words. It has been a pretty delightful week of reading lessons with Turner. I'll have to write a follow up on how he is doing.
    Jennifer, the writing on the cards is not my own, it is Queensland from EFI fonts. I have their cd. The boys use QMF from Queensland for their copywork. It is lovely.

  7. LOVE this. I'm so glad you're brave and that you're doing this... I am not brave and I use a different curriculum which I mold to fit us and our ways. It is working beautifully, but I had my doubts that it would at first ;) but have been super pleased at the progress of my youngest two!

    We did a few of these kind of lessons way back when with my oldest two... then because they weren't really ready, I chickened out when it came to trying again :)

    I'm so glad you left me a comment because sometimes I don't get out much ;) you reminded me that I need to drop in at other people's places more often! :) I've thoroughly enjoyed perusing your latest posts!

    amy in peru

  8. How wonderful! I don't think I ever would have come up with this. But we love that poem; in fact, it was one of the first my daughter ever memorized, and she still says Christina Rosetti is one of favorite poets.

  9. I want you to know that as a result of this post, I was converted. I decided if you could do it, so could I! So, I kept on using the phonograms from SWR to teach sounds and such (that's where we were at the point of my last comment) and then have used CM reading lessons very similar to yours over the last couple months with my youngest. My 7yog taught herself before I had a chance...


    I've posted a series on Teaching Reading, and I'm linking up now...

    amy in peru