Waseca Reading Program (ages 3 – 9)


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Over the years, the Waseca Reading Program has become a standard in many Montessori classrooms. It is structured to provide a systematic and sequential presentation of the phonetic elements used in the English language. The program uses a four-step approach: after you have introduced a phonetic element, the child uses the movable alphabet to spell, or encode, the word depicted on a picture card. Next, the child decodes the phonetic information by matching a picture card to its label. Then the child further practices decoding by reading the phonogram booklet and doing writing practice. The picture cards use photographs to illustrate each word. Large print and color-coded highlighting emphasize the phonetic elements found in the word. The frame around the picture and the highlighting are color-coded for nine different phonetic groups. The groups cover the following: Red focuses on three-letter phonetic words and isolates short vowel sounds Orange focuses on blends: common beginning blends such as s, l, and r blends; ending blends; and words with both beginning and ending blends Yellow introduces consonant digraphs like sh, ch, th, and tch Green explores words ending with ng and nk Aqua focuses on the silent e rule as applied to each vowel Blue explores different phonograms used to make each long vowel sound Purple introduces various dipthongs, such as r-controlled vowels and oy, ow, and aw Pink focuses on combinations that produce silent letters like wh, mb, kn, and gh Gold explores less common phonetic rules, including spelling variations for the same sounds and hard and soft consonants