I like old stuff. A few months back I read this DREADFULLY sad book about the first American born nun, Lydia Longley, but it gave a great example of how an old school horn book lesson went. I started using it on my younger son and WOW, it is helpful.
First, what is a horn book? Back in the day, the kids that were learning their letter and syllable sounds were supposed to practice at home, but you didn’t want to send a seven-year-old home with an expensive paper book. It would get lost or land in the creek, right? So, they mounted the work on a wooden paddle and covered it with a thin peel of animal horn. Old school laminating!
On the enclosed sheet would be the ABC’s in upper and lower case letters, some syllables, and the Lords prayer. The person giving the lesson would run them through every sound and once they got good enough, the one giving the lesson would point out different letters or sounds to be recited out of order (in the book it was an older sister with a knitting needle.)
I find in teaching kids to read that none of the decodables agree on what order in which to teach all the phonograms. So, I like having introduced all the phonograms already. He won’t have them ALL memorized, but if we come across one he didn’t know in a random practice decodable, he has at least heard it before. So here’s my “Horn Book” and how we run the lesson:
2. We say the ABC’s again, pointing to the upper case letters.
3. We say the sounds in the third group together. (It helps if you’ve read Dr. Seuss’s ABC book to get the rhythm.) Big A, little a, a-ay-ah. Big B, little b, buh-buh-buh. Big C, little c, ck-sss….etc. We also do some hand motions.
4. Then, I point, out in random order, some he knows and maybe a new one or two.
5. Then we flip the page and do the other phonograms, using hand signals. They aren’t as sing-song, so I just add them to our routine after we run across them in the decodables a few times.
Like singing the books of the Bible or the states in alphabetical order, this little routine is super-easy to get cooperation and has helped IMMENSELY.