Step 3: Building Three Letter Words
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In Step 1 you helped your child learn how to identify the capital and lowercase letters by name. Then in Step 2 you helped your child learn what sound each letter makes. Now in Step 3 you will teach your child how to build and sound out three letter words. In this step they will be replacing letters one at a time from a 3 letter group to make and read new words.
Hint: Find a letter tool that allows your child to see and touch each letter individually such as letter tiles, flash cards or puzzle pieces.
1 – Pick Two Letters
Choose a vowel to be your middle letter and a consonant to be your last letter. This can be any combination that you want. Let’s say you choose “O” and “T”. Have your child say the sound that “T” makes (tuh). Then, tell your child what sound the “O” makes in this case (ah) and have them repeat you. After enough correct exposure from you your child will start to understand the patterns and develop the ability to read the vowels correctly on their own.
Hint: Remember from Step 1 that vowels in the English alphabet have more than one sound and don’t always follow regular patterns.
Have your child say the two sounds together. This will take some practice and patience since this is your child’s first time reading two sounds together. You will have to guide them in the beginning so that they understand and can follow your example.
2 – Pick A Third Letter
Choose another consonant to be your first letter. Be sure to choose one that makes “-OT” a 3 letter word that your child would recognize such as “H” for “HOT”. Have your child say the sound that “H” makes. Then ask your child if they remember what sound “OT” made when you read them together.
Hint: It’s OK to make this easy for your child at first, exposure is progress!
See if your child can say all three sounds together. You will know when your child gets it because you will see them light up and make a verbal connection; “Like my food is HOT!”. These verbal connections are important, they are the child’s individual celebration of their new accomplishment and understanding. It is also a cue to you that they are still engaged and ready to do it again.
3 – Pick A New Letter
To create a new word, simply replace the first letter. Be sure to use one that also makes “OT” a recognizable word, such as “G” for “GOT”. Have your child say the sound that “G” makes. Then ask your child if they remember what sound “OT” makes. See if your child can say all three sounds together to read the word “GOT”.
Hint: You can also do this the opposite way, starting with the first and second letter and replacing the third letter to make a new word.
Once your child can sound out three letter words without help, except for a little help with the vowel sound then CONGRATULATIONS you have completed Step 3! And you are ready to move on to Step 4.