Archive for February, 2010

Older Children Struggling to Read – The Nonsense of the Dolch Sight Words List – Controlled Vocabularies

Posted in Phonics vs Look/Say, sight words vs high frrquency words | 1 Comment »


Genuine Sight Words are those few words that break phonics rules, and yet, some sight words are necessary in order for children to read sentences at a beginning-reader level.  

So that children can begin to read simple sentences, sight words first appear along with short-vowel words that consist of just three or four letters. 

The question, then, is not

Should we teach sight words? 


Rather, the two-fold question is

1) How many sight words are there?


2) What should determine whether or not a word should be classified as a genuine sight word? 


Let me stop here and explain the Candy 4WAY Phonics reasoning behind sight words.  The very limited list of sight words used in the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program is just one of the factors that separates Candy 4WAY Phonics from most other reading programs sold in America.  

Most educators agree that sight words are “those words that do not follow regular phonetic patterns and rules.”  Therefore, Sight Words are words that your child must memorize – not sound out– but memorize


I partially agree with this definition. 


There certainly is a list of genuine sight words that must be memorized, but that list is much smaller than most reading programs promote.  This is because of two reasons: 

FIRST, the long lists of sight words in most other reading programs include words that can be sounded out.   


SECOND, many words labeled as “sight words” that appear on these long word lists are placed on those lists because they are words that appear frequently in children’s books such as the I Can Read Book Series


As a result, words such as:  lookawaydown,  and  jump are often taught as sight words when, actually, they can easily be sounded out.   


If you can believe it, there are actually over 300 of these UNNECESARY, so-called “sight words,” and they are taught regularly in our public schools as words that need to be memorized as WHOLE words.  These so-called “sight words” appear on millions of word walls every year and on what is referred to as the Dolch Sight Word List.  

At Candy 4WAY Phonics  we emphatically believe that words should NOT be classified as “sight words” simply because they appear frequently in popular, easy-to-read children’s books.  

This is why the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program presents a fraction of the number of sight words that appear in other curriculums.  Furthermore, we only include genuine sight words in our program—those words that actually break phonics rules.

Fortunately, children are usually very adept at recognizing which words follow the rules and which words break the rules.  If you’ve been a parent for very long you are probably keenly aware that children are very good at knowing who broke a rule, exactly what rule they broke, and everyone else who got away with breaking that rule. Likewise, children are also very adept at recognizing when a word breaks a phonics rule and which phonics rule that word broke.      


At Candy 4WAY Phonics, we teach just 58 sight words throughout our program. Only 33 of those words also appear among the 315 sight words listed on the Dolch Sight Word List. 

In other words, the Dolch Sight Word list includes 282 words that CAN be sounded out. That’s 282 words that children are required to memorize as WHOLE words that they could have learned to sound out!


EVEN MORE SAD is the fact that in far too many American classrooms, where children are subject to the Dolch controlled-vocabulary list, a student’s reading level is determined by how many of these Dolch Sight Words he can recognize.  For example, the following ridiculous criteria is used by American educators to determine the reading levels for millions of elementary students: 


0 – 75     –      ESTIMATED READING LEVEL is Pre-primer

76 –  120  –     ESTIMATED READING LEVEL  is Primer

121 – 170  –    ESTIMATED READING LEVEL is 1st Grade

171 – 210 –    ESTIMATED READING LEVEL is 2nd Grade

 Above 210 – ESTIMATED READING LEVEL is 3rd Grade or higher            


If you think this is a fluky, nonsensical way to determine reading level, I couldn’t agree with you more.  Look, for example, at the free 4th Grade Reading Test offered on the Candy 4WAY Phonics  website.  In that reading test, you’ll see words such as: 

canopies     scarce     silent     interrupted     potent     fervors     foliage     fierce

You’re not going to find any of those words on the Dolch Sight Word List, and, yet, children who have been assigned with a 3rd grade reading level are going to encounter hundreds of these types of words during their 4th grade school year.  A child who has been trained to memorize all the WHOLE words on the Dolch List isn’t going to have a great deal of time left over to learn to sound out  words like canopies and foliage

 A phonics-trained student, however, will easily be able to read words like canopies and foliage along with words such as: 

canonization        cancerous        candidacies        canoodled 


folklore    follicular    manifoldness  and  portfolios


A child who has spent his days tediously learning to recognize high-frequency WHOLE words and is stuck daily reading boring I Can Read Books that focus upon such WHOLE words, will have mastered a whopping 1,216 words by the end of 3rd grade and 1,554 words by the end of fourth grade.  

In comparison, a child who has spent his days with the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program , systematically gaining the skills to sound out every word he encounters by daily studying and learning to blend all the letter combinations that make up words, will have mastered the skills necessary to sound out an estimated 30,000 words by the end of 3rd grade and over 40,000 words by the end of fourth grade. 

Moreover, the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program  even shows children how to “sound out” the sight words.

Is it true that sight words can be sounded out?

Genuine sight words cannot be sounded out using regular phonics rules, but they can be sounded out using a pronunciation key.  The Candy 4WAY Phonics Program includes a Sight Word Pronunciation Guide explaining the pronunciation symbols given for each of the 58 sight words in the program.   

To make it even easier, the Candy 4WAY Phonics CD-Rom Program (which sells for just $19.97) includes an Audio CD-Rom by which parents can hear every letter and every word and every sentence in every daily phonics lesson, eliminating all the guesswork as to the correct pronunciation of all the letters and blends that make up words.)   

In summary, at Candy 4WAY Phonics  , we DO NOT agree with the number of sight words that most curriculums promote.  The standard Dolch Sight Word List used by a great many educators grossly overloads the minds of children with tons of needless whole-word-memory tasks!

Moreover, reading studies now show that any kind of approach to reading that does not include a strong phonics focus is risking failure for a larger percentage of our children.

Simply put, children are never going to love reading if they can’t read. 

Many children of normal intelligence are simply not capable of memorizing thousands of WHOLE words, and yet that is most certainly what is happening in one classroom after another as children are taught to memorize WHOLE words instead of learning to sound them out. 

Sadly, when children of normal intelligence cannot read, they are at risk of being labeled ”learning-disabled” and then, even more sadly, they become locked in with the label:  “special-education.” 

On the other hand, once a child has approached words from a “sounding out” process, that child will find it much easier to read every word on every page, including all the genuine sight words! 


Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics

My Child Says It’s not Important to Write Complete Sentences! Teaching Children to Write Complete, Creative Sentences!

Posted in how to teach children to write a sentence, how to write creative sentences, teaching children to write creative sentences, teaching complete sentences | Comments Off on My Child Says It’s not Important to Write Complete Sentences! Teaching Children to Write Complete, Creative Sentences!



“Why should I care if I can write down my thoughts in complete sentences?  My friends don’t mind that I send them e-mails and text messages with phrases and codes, so why should anyone else make me write in complete sentences?”   


We, of course, need to remember that the above statement is coming from a child, a child who has been deceived into believing the lie (probably by his friends) that learning to record his thoughts in complete, understandable sentences with the correct syntax is not a necessary skill for today’s world.  Sadly, many of our children are falling more and more into this deception!


The truth is, when we’re speaking about putting lasting ideas down in writing,

–ideas that can change people or circumstances,

–ideas than can direct business meetings or corporate decisions,

–ideas that can convince, influence, or encourage with long-lasting results,

then we’re speaking about ideas that are written with complete, understandable sentences.  The lack of ability by American students to convey their thoughts with complete, easy-to-understand, grammatically-correct sentences should be a grave concern for American teachers and parents. 


We are delighted to tell you that this lack of ability, becoming more and more prevalent among American students, IS a grave concern to the folks at Candy 4WAY Phonics.   As a result, we’ve put together an affordable resource for  just $3.97 to provide teachers and parents with a systematic plan of instruction for creative sentence writing.   


 I often talk with those who have bought the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program and with those who are still in the “investigating” stage of searching for phonics curriculum.  As a result, I often hear comments like these from parents:


My daughter is in 5th grade.
We just discovered that she is only reading at a first grade level.
Her spelling is terrible and her sentences are all run-on sentences.
Now her teacher is asking her to write sentences each week summarizing her favorite places to visit. 

She is supposed to write sentences containing similies and metaphors.
How can she write sentences with metaphors when she can’t spell and she can’t write a complete sentence with a complete thought? 


My son is in the 4th grade.
He is constantly asking me to do all of his creative writing assignments for him.
He can list many details for his stories, but he cannot put those details into complete, coherent sentences.
He has no idea how to build the sentences necessary to write the stories he has going on in his head.


My daughter is in the 6th grade.
She cannot tell where a sentence begins and where it ends.
She has no idea what the difference is between a subject and a verb.
In fact, she does not know that a sentence needs both a subject and a verb.


My son is in the 7th grade.
He was just asked to write an essay containing five paragraphs.
My son cannot write a complete sentence let alone compose an essay made up of five paragraphs.


My daughter is 12 years old and she cannot read or spell.
When she writes, she will often compose sentences with a singular subject and a plural verb.
She has no idea why her sentences are wrong.
Her sentences really do sound correct to her.


My son is nine years old, but he cannot tell the difference between a complete sentence and a sentence fragment.  


My daughter is 10 years old, and she doesn’t know the difference between a noun and an adjective.
How is she going to make it in high school? 


My son is 11 years old.
The English sentences he writes for his assignments contain adjectives that are trite.
He writes with adjectives such as:  big, little, yellow, old, terrible, tall.
No one seems to care if his writing improves.
Well, I care!



At Candy 4WAY Phonics, we ALSO care

 We care if children can read, enough that we offer parents and teachers a complete Systematic 4WAY Phonics Program for just $9.97.  


We also care if children can write, enough that we offer parents and teachers a sentence building resource for just $3.97.


So many times we truly believe that our young students are capable of writing good sentences simply because they seem to talk, at times, in complete sentences. While there are some students who just seem to “naturally” know how to construct a good sentence, most children do not.  

And yet it should be “second nature” for all children to be able to construct a basic sentence complete with nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and prepositional phrases by the end of the 4th grade.


Our newest resource is entitled: Teaching Children to Write Creative Sentences


This newest sentence-building resource explains to parents and teachers exactly what preliminary work is vital before a child is ready to construct a solid sentence.


This is an easy-to-understand, systematic teaching plan that illustrates (with a teacher and a blackboard and, always, beginning with the verb) exactly how to teach students to write consistent, creative sentences that answer questions such as Who? What? Where? When? What kind? and How?


Check it out.  Teaching Children to Write Creative Sentences

We truly believe you’ll be glad you did!




Carol Kay, President

Candy4WAY Phonics.

Fluency – Faster Reading – What Builds Reading Fluency?

Posted in my child can’t read, reading faster, reading fluency, reading fluency goals, reading fluency strategies | Comments Off on Fluency – Faster Reading – What Builds Reading Fluency?


What is Reading Fluency?   Many parents have been told that their child needs to read with more fluency.  However, most parents aren’t quite sure what fluency is. 

FLUENCY is the ability to read words quickly and accurately.  Fluency builds a bridge between reading the words on the page and understanding the meaning of the words on the page. When a child has learned to read fluently, he has learned to read quickly, accurately, and with expression.   

There are essentially five fluency obstacles.  At Candy 4WAY Phonics, we’ve built solid roads right through those obstacles by building reading fluency directly into the program.  

The first fluency obstacle children need to overcome is their fear of sounding out an unknown word they do not know, the whole word, all the way from the left of the word through to the end of the word.  Children often grab the beginning of a word and then “guess” at the rest of the word.  At Candy 4WAY Phonics, we soooooo discourage the “guessing” of words.  The Candy 4WAY Phonics Program builds children into words, step-by-step, from a single letter, into blends, and on into multisyllable words.

The second fluency obstacle is the fear children have when approaching unknown words in sentences that contain unfamiliar information.  The Candy 4WAY Phonics Program gives children one phonogram per lesson with plenty of practice blending that phonogram into words.  This is because you want your children to be able to sound out all the words they encounter, even when those words are found in sentences where your child does not understand the sentence context. Children read stand-alone words throughout our phonics lessons in lists that can be read from left to right, top to bottom, or bottom to top.  

The third fluency obstacle children need to overcome is learning to read words fluently within various types of sentences.  The Candy 4WAY Phonics Program gives sentences as early as possible within its daily lessons.  Those sentences contain only words made up of parts that the child has either already mastered in previous lessons or practiced in the present lesson.  Just as important, the sentences that children will encounter in their Candy 4WAY Phonics Daily Lessons include both simple and complex sentences, sentences containing connective and complex connective words, as well as dialogue and normal poetic selections so that children learn to build reading fluency while reading all forms of written expression. 

The fourth fluency obstacle children have, especially children who have struggled in reading before, is their dread of reading.  This is why the Candy 4WAY Phonics includes R’sA Phonics (Rhyme, Rhythm, and Alliteration).  R’sA Phonics gives children a reading atmosphere that is fun.  Just as a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” children also learn best when they are offered fun words and phrases.  Words and phrases become fun when they are placed inside sentences with Rhyme, Rhythm, and Alliteration.   

But wait!  There’s one more way the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program enables children to build reading fluency. The fifth fluency obstacle children need to overcome is taking words they can read in isolation and in sentences and reading them in actual storiesThe Candy 4WAY Phonics Program gives children (starting with the second level of the program) a Story Reader following after every five lessons. This is because we have heard again and again how much of a difference it makes to place sentences into stories within the timeframe of daily lessons. This is crucial because children need to know that the effort they have put forth in their daily phonics lessons is enabling them to read. 

With the Candy 4WAY Phonics sequenced, leveled Story Readers, children are regularly rewarded after every five lessons with a Candy Story Reader containing real story content — a reader in which children will never have to guess at words because each reader contains only letters and blends they have already mastered. So each reader “proves” to a child that they are learning to read, that they are gaining meaningful daily skills, that they are smart!

Parents, we can assure you that when children learn phonics the correct way, reading fluency is a necessary skill built right alongside the ability to sound out every word on every page. At Candy 4WAY Phonics we believe that’s important enough to offer parents everything they need in a phonics program at an affordable price 

Check it out.  For just $9.97  you can purchase an INSTANT DOWNLOAD of the following Candy 4WAY Phonics items:

1)   An 82-page eBook entitled: How to Teach Candy’s Systematic 4WAY Phonics

2)  100 Daily 4WAY Phonics Lessons loaded with rhyme, rhythm, and alliteration for fun learning

3)  Candy Story Readers sequenced into the program (after every 5 Daily Phonics Lessons, your child can read a Candy Reader)

4)  Colored Alphabet Rhyming Phonics Charts with Multisensory Vowel Helps

5)  Colored Rhyming Alphabet Flashcards

6)  Colored Lifetime Rhyming Phonics Charts to give your child a lifetime of phonogram retention.

7)  Interwoven, daily Phonics Drill

8)  FREE e-mail coaching 

It’s simple!           It’s affordable!            It works! 


Carol Kay, President