Consonant & Digraph Interactive Notebook Pages

It's really important that our young students (thinking specifically about our Pre-Kinder through 1st but keeping in mind this is true for all readers) start off with a strong foundation of letter-sound knowledge to support their early reading efforts. During the early stages of reading instruction it's so important that we focus on two key aspects.

1. Phonological Awareness

Click here to get your copy!

Click here to get your copy!

Students need this foundational ability to blend the sounds of letters together and also to break them apart. This is a necessary skill in order to "sound-out" words and for spelling.

But of equal importance students need to know their letters and the sounds of those letters with enough automaticity to be able to blend those sounds together. Which brings us to the second key aspect.

2. Phonics

Often students (especially at-risk students) are going to struggle significantly with their letter sounds. If they cannot look at the letter and then quickly pull up its corresponding sound, they will be unable to decode. A student's working memory cannot support holding onto all the other sounds within the word if it takes longer than a couple of seconds for the student to recognize the letter and its sound.

We set up our interactive notebook as a fun activity to support systematic letter instruction. Usually, we pull in these activities in the order of our instruction. So if we are teaching the letters C and O, we would pull the C and O and work on adding each of those cards to the student notebook. We set it up so that the student has the opportunity to practice saying the letter sound, writing the letter while saying the letter sound and coloring a picture of the keyword for the letter sound.

This is a limited time freebie so make sure to grab it while it's available. It will be here From September 22nd - September 28th.

Consider Joining Our Membership Community so that you have forever access to all of our resources, a print-and-go intervention curriculum that will get you through all of your groups, and a community in which you can post questions and interact with others supporting struggling readers! Click here to Join!

What To Do When Spelling Rules Don't Stick

So we know that teaching students spelling rules in a systematic and cumulative (organized and building on itself) approach is the best way to make meaningful spelling gains. However, even with the best instruction we often see skills fall apart when they need to be applied at a higher level.

-ck writing activity.png

Often, even when using OG-based intervention, a student can spell the word perfectly in isolation (like on a weekly spelling test) but then fail to consistently apply that knowledge in his or her writing. So what do we do about it?

  1. Make sure that you are having the student practice applied spelling. So instead of just giving weekly spelling tests (or weekly spelling drills), have them practice using the rules in "real-world" writing. What is "real-world" writing you ask? It's writing that the student comes up with independently. Writing to which they can connect their own meaning and background knowledge. Most often we provide sentences we want the student to use through dictation because we want to control the writing and make sure the student is spelling words in which he or she has previously been instructed. However, what we really want is for the student to produce their own meaningful and engaging stories in which they can apply the rule. We do this by providing pictures and silly sentence activities that allow the student to focus on the rule application all while still taking ownership over their writing and the content they are producing.
  2. Make sure that you are consistently circling back to the rule that is causing struggles. We caution against staying in a specific lesson too long for students who aren't getting a specific rule because you need to be able to move forward in order to provide more background knowledge and patterns that a child may be able to use to spell more words correctly. Furthermore, sometimes a rule just won't stick no matter what you do - and in that case, it's better to have moved onward before losing the interest and engagement of the student. However, just because you move forward in the progression of systematic phonics based instruction does not mean that you just let go of that rule forever. Continue to bring it up every single week in a review group of words.

We are always looking for fun ways to add home practice components or other activities. This is a fun sample of our additional practice we might use to solidify the -ck spelling rule.

How does spelling go for your students? Are they consistently applying? If so, we would love to hear your strategies in the comments below.

This freebie has expired. Join our Members Only Community for access to all of our exclusive freebies.

How do I Improve Phonological Awareness?

Phonological awareness is a key foundation of building early reading skills. It's an umbrella term that essentially refers to the ability to break words into individual sounds, blend sounds to create words (sounding it out), and the ability to manipulate sounds in our language through tasks like rhyming, changing the ending sounds of words or the order of words (like in Pig Latin). Being able to manipulate the sounds in words is a necessary prerequiste to being able to "sound it out".

So, given that we know it's such a foundational building block for reading - how do we improve our students ability in phonological awareness?

Syllable Segmenting Freebie Friday.png

The short answer - tons of practice.

As we have discussed before, the best way to weave in practice is through engaging games and activities that target the specific skills we are looking at. There are tons of skills that comprise the umbrella term "phonological awareness". You can check out a list of very specific phonological awareness skills in our post over here about monitoring progress of these skills.

Today, we wanted to share one of our resources that we use to help make this skill more fun and therefore easier to practice. This is our Sound and Syllable Segmenting game. Typically we break this up and start by only introducing Syllable Segmentation and then once the student has mastered that skill we move onto focusing on Sound Segmentation. Once the student is very comfortable with the skill we may layer in both skills simultaneously to gauge the student's mental flexibility between the two similar but different tasks.

This freebie has expired. Join us and get this resource in Members Only Library or check it out on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Race & Read Blends - Keeping Students Motivated

The blends game is great practice for kids! They love playing and don't realize they are practicing their blends and digraphs!

So we all know that sometimes certain skills just don't stick for kids. They need tons of additional practice and sometimes finding the material to keep practicing can get daunting. What I realized early on in my intervention career was that for whatever reason games just did not get old.

While I couldn't keep giving a kiddo word list after word list with the same concept without hearing the moans and groans of a frustrated student, they were absolutely happy to review with a game over and over. This allowed me to get in the repeated practice that I knew was necessary in order to really solidify the skill. This is just an example we wanted to provide for you of how you can make your session more engaging. You don't even need to have words typed onto a game board to make this fun. You can just get a generic game board and write your words you want to practice on colored index cards that correlate with specific colors on the board and use the game board to keep your student motivated. It's all about being creative.

We wanted to include our blends game this week because blends themselves can be a very tricky concept for students with poor phonological memory (they have difficulty holding all the sounds in their mind and by the time they have remembered what each of the letters say they have forgotten all of the other letters). This concept often takes a great deal of practice. We will be adding tips and strategies to our Members Only Library on how to help support students that struggle with blends so join our Membership group and jump in on the fun.

This freebie has expired. But don't fret - you can get access to this and tons of other materials in our Members Only Library by subscribing as a Smart ALEC Insider. Click Log-In at the top of the screen to get access to this and hundreds of other resources!

COPS - Writing Checklist

This checklist allows students to self monitor and make sure they're sentences have capitals, organization, punctuation and correct spelling!

One of the skills we love working on with our students is writing. We do this in our OG lessons through sentence dictation (having them write a sentence that we have provided) and also through applied writing. Last week we shared a persuasive writing prompt following the outline we like to use helping students learn to plan out their writing in a very sequential format - we share monthly writing prompts with our members as well!

What we noticed is that often students struggled most with mechanics and that giving them a brief acronym such as COPS could make all the difference. We like students to "send out the COPS on their work" in order to check for:


Do we have them where they belong? Do we have them anywhere they don't belong? Many of our students are equally guilty of throwing capitals into the middle of a word especially when it is a strategy that they developed to help overcome B & D reversals.


Do we have appropriate spaces and good overall appearance? Or for older students, we may be more focused on the organization of the sentence structure.


Do we have any punctuation? Many of our students are guilty of omitting these formalities altogether. Do we have the appropriate punctuation? For more advanced students do we have appropriate commas and other non-ending punctuation?


Often our students with dyslexia really struggle here. What we like to know is not necessarily if they can correct all spelling errors, they may not have the ability to do that independently. But - can they identify where a spelling error may have occurred? Can they underline or find words they think may have an issue? To us, that is a huge step in self-monitoring for writing since we have a number of technologies that can actually help us with spelling itself.

This freebie has expired. Join our Membership site to get access to all of our exclusive freebies!

Persuasive Essay Writing Prompt

Ah, Writing! This can often be the hardest piece to the puzzle.  Just think of how much we are asking our kiddos to do.  From thinking about the prompt to organizing their thoughts, to constructing a sentence,  to organizing the sentences into a paragraph or more, and then finally editing.  This is a tall order to ask even if you don't have a learning disability, but for our students, this is particularly difficult and needs to be broken down into small manageable parts.

With our writing prompts, we chunk this very large task into bite-size pieces.  With today's Freebie Friday resource we are giving you our persuasive writing prompt.  In this step by step guide, we show students how to brainstorm their ideas, organize what they have brainstormed, create their introduction and conclusion, write a rough draft and utilize the C.O.P.S. editing strategy.  

As a Smart ALEC member, you receive twice monthly emails with new writing prompts and reading comprehension support to bolster what you are doing in the classroom.  So if you like this resource you know you can find more where it came from!  

This freebie has expired. Join our Membership to get ongoing access to writing prompts.

Phonological Awareness Progress Monitoring

Progress Monitoring Sheets

We know that phonological awareness is a key foundational skill for reading. Many schools and teachers are doing a great job incorporating this instruction into the classroom. However, it can be difficult to know if the students are really getting it and if they are making progress - or if they are just "going with the flow". Students at risk for dyslexia often are slower to pick up these skills than their peers and so it's really important to be able to monitor each individual student's progress in each of the core domains of phonological awareness. The skills that we are often thinking of include:

Sentence Segmenting - The ability to break sentences into their individual words (e.g., How many words do you hear in the sentence "the cat is black").

Auditory Discrimination/Word Recognition - Telling the difference between similar sounding words (e.g., "pig - big" are these words the same or different?).

Rhyme Recognition - Knowing when two words rhyme (e.g., "Do car and star rhyme? Do truck and trip rhyme?").

Rhyme Production - Being able to produce a rhyming word when given a target word (e.g., "Tell me a word that rhymes with fan.").

Onset-Rime Blending - Being able to blend word parts together to create a real word (e.g., "Tell me what word these sounds make /sn/ /ag/.").

Initial Sound Recognition - Being able to determine the first sound in a word (e.g., "What's the first sound in bat?" Answer - /b/).

Final Sound Recognition - Being able to determine the last sound in a word (e.g., "What's the last sound in top?" Answer - /p/).

Medial Sound Recognition - Being able to determine a middle sound in a word (e.g., "What's the second sound in and?" Anwer - /n/).

Syllable Blending - Blending syllables together to create a word (e.g., "What word do these sounds make: win - dow?" Answer - window).

Syllable Segmenting - Determining how many syllables are in a word (e.g., "How many syllables do you hear in the word Sunday?" Answer - 2).

Phoneme Blending - Blending sounds together to create a word (e.g., "What word do these sounds make: /k/ /a/ /t/?" Answer - cat).

Phoneme Segmenting - Isolating the sounds within a word (e.g., "How many sounds do you hear in which?" Answer - 3).

Initial Phoneme Deletion - Being able to take the first sound out of a word (e.g., "Say slip without the /s/ sound." Answer - lip).

Final Phoneme Deletion - Being able to take the last sound out of a word (e.g., "Say meant without the /t/ sound." Answer - men).

Phoneme Manipulation - Being able to rearrange the sounds within a word (e.g., "Say the sounds in make backward." Answer - came).

This week we wanted to share a way to finally keep track of that data in small group instruction. This is great for RTI groups, small-group classroom instruction, or small group or 1:1 intervention in a school or therapy/tutoring session. If you are interested in learning more about Phonological Awareness through the lens of dyslexia consider checking out our Professional Development courses.

This Freebie has expired. Subscribe to our Membership Site for $15/month in order to access it in our exclusive Members Only Library or check it out at Teachers Pay Teachers!

Syllable Division Posters

Syllable Division Posters

Syllable Division Posters

Today we wanted to share a fun resource for teaching the different syllabication patterns. There are so many rules in Orton-Gillingham based instruction and so we wanted to find a way to make it stick more meaningfully for our students. We love trying to create memory devices and loved this traditional OG approach of using animals to help remember the different division patterns. We also have fun syllable division games available in our Members Only Library and on TPT.

Rab/bit Division - Spot and dot the vowels and divide between the consonants.


Rep/tile Division - Keep Magic E syllables together.

Hor/net Division - Keep Bossy R syllables together.

Ti/ger - When you cannot divide between consonants, keep the first syllable open.

Cam/el - When you cannot divide between consonants, keep the first syllable closed (we try this if an open syllable doesn't create a real word).

Tur/tle - Consonant LE, count back three and scoop.

Li/on - Typically vowel teams stick together, every once in awhile they repel and we divide between the vowels.

This Freebie has expired. Subscribe to access it in our exclusive Members Only Library or check it out at Teachers Pay Teachers!

You can also join our e-mail list in order to check out our comprehensive Orton-Gillingham Toolkit.

Check out these other resources we use within our curriculum in our Membership site or on TPT.


Syllable Types & Vowel Sounds Interactive Notebook

This week we are so excited to share part of our interactive reading notebook and syllable marking worksheets. This is a great way to start off your systematic, structured, reading intervention. It's also a great way to keep students engaged!

Why Present It Like This?

It can be hard to remember everything there is to remember in a structured, systematic literacy program. All the vowel sounds (short, long, and R-controlled) plus all the vowel teams and syllable types. Our students enjoy coloring in the pictures and coming up with words to help them hold onto all these rules.

We know that so many of our students struggle with working memory and this has proven to be a great way to serve as a memory aid while also helping with retention of all the things there is to know related to OG. This is a short version of our more comprehensive interactive notebook available through our Membership site! Click Log-In at the top of the page to sign up!

This limited time freebie has expired.

Don't worry, you can also get these interactive notebook pages and activities as part of our Membership in the Members Only Library. Also available for purchase on TeachersPayTeachers.Or you can get this as part of our free OG Toolkit, by signing up for our e-mail list!

Syllable Type Sort

One of our favorite activities to complete with students is the syllable type sort. There are tons of fun ways to adapt this game/activity in order to determine not only if your student can decode words - but also whether they can match the word to its syllable type.

Why does this matter?

1. If a student can match a word to a syllable type, they have a greater understanding of the "why" of our language and will likely be able to generalize the skill better to other less familiar words.

2. If a student can match a word to a syllable type, they generally have a much higher likelihood of being able to spell that word correctly.

How do you play?

I always play this game as a quick warm-up with my students. I first ask them to identify all the syllable types they know. While identifying each syllable type I pull out the corresponding card. Next, I take turns picking teams with my student, or if I have a group I let each child pick a syllable type team and put the remaining cards in my pile. Every student should be able to see all the cards as they will need to sort word cards into their syllable type. I typically set my timer between 3-5 minutes as this game is meant to be a super quick review of past concepts. Everyone takes turns drawing a card and reading the word then sorting by syllable type. At the end of the game, the player with the most word cards wins!

This limited time freebie has expired.

But don't fret, you can still get this game as part of our Membership in the Members Only Library. Also available for purchase on TeachersPayTeachers.

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out