A Little Background
Last year we began using Phonics Pathways by Dolores G. Hiskes to teach Peanut how to read since Cathy Duffy’s review spoke so highly of the program, especially for someone wanting a complete phonics program on a budget. However, it quickly became apparent that Phonics Pathways was NOT a good fit for her at the time. Thus, when I found How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelman at a used bookstore for only $2.25, I decided, “What do I have to lose?”
We came home and tried out Engelman’s book for a week to see if Peanut liked it any better than Phonics Pathways and the results were amazing. She loved it! Each day had a short story to read that she couldn’t wait to get too. In addition, the visual cues helped her to progress quickly until finally she didn’t need them anymore as she was reading confidently on a first grade level.
At this point you may be thinking, “Why is she talking about How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons? I thought this article was supposed to be about how to teach reading using Phonics Pathways?” Don’t worry–it’s coming. “There’s more to the story than meets the eye,” as the saying goes.
Once completing How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons we took a break from using a textbook and just read fun books together all summer such that by summer’s end we were wondering “what next?” I knew Peanut had a great basic phonics understanding, but I also knew there were several phonics skills that she didn’t totally gather from How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. As a result, I decided to once again try Phonics Pathways. This time it worked.
Our Phonics Pathways Plan
Since we went through How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons first, we started Phonics Pathways on page 48. This review and game gave her enough confidence to know she could tackle this book this time, and let me know she was ready to proceed forward. Since then, each day we have been reading 1/2 to 2 pages in Phonics Pathways, completing 5 spelling words from the day’s reading, and finishing with the reading of a fun picture book (which she thinks are WAY better than the typical student readers).
Below are the lesson plans we have been following. Currently we are are day 43 and still going strong. Our plan is to finish these lessons by the end of the school year, pending we continue our current pace of one lesson per school day.
About the Lesson Plans
There are 180 lesson plans in all with the final lesson being on a solid 4th grade reading level. You may find as you progress that your child could easily complete or even skip days, while at other times they may need to spend more than one day to complete a day’s lesson. Either way works. Remember, THIS IS JUST A GUIDE. As Dolores G. Hiskes says, “Your students should move ahead when they are completely ready–never according to ‘age or page.’ They might complete several pages in one day, or need many days to complete one page.” It’s whatever works.
Each day I have assigned 1/2 to 2 pages of reading in Phonics Pathways followed by 5 spelling words from the day’s reading and a “student reader” (aka library picture book) in which to practice one’s reading skills. Always, always, the student reader should be at an easier reading level than the child is currently attempting in Phonics Pathways. This helps to build the child’s confidence and reading enjoyment. Each student reader was chosen comes from this 5-star list of books. If you cannot easily access a book suggested, feel free to choose another book at the same reading level in which the original book is found. For instance, Chrysanthemum by Henkes is a level 1.0 book. However, if my library did not have it, I might try Ten Black Dots by Crews instead. Both are at the same reading level and Ten Black Dots will not be used later on in the lesson plans.
Every so often, we have a “Switchero Spelling Day” where Peanut gets to choose 5 spelling words from the day’s reading and check to see if MOM spelled the words right. This provides a little extra fun for her, and she is still learning to spell just the same.
Phonics Pathways awards are no longer available. That said, you are always more than welcome to give out the awards whenever you like. These just provide a guide should you like to offer the awards following the concepts suggested in Phonics Pathways.
Finally, these lesson plans were created by me for my daughters. They are not in any way associated with the Phonics Pathways program and have not been tested by multiple families. These plans are just what has worked for us and we hope they are a positive help as you venture out on your own Phonics Pathway. These lesson plans are based on the 10th edition of Phonics Pathways. If you have another edition, you will need adjust your lesson plans just slightly to fit the edition your page numbers.
What You Will Need:
- Phonics Pathways by Dolores G. Hiskes
- A handheld dry erase board and marker, preferably one with lines such as this one
- Your local library
That’s it! The total investment in the program is about $25 or less depending on if you get a dry erase board from your local Dollar Tree and the book via a used book sale. Thus, it is a VERY economic program (not to mention complete). Just remember, not every phonics program fits every student. Just like Phonics Pathways did not work for Peanut initially, it may not work for your child initially or at all. However, if it does, I hope these lesson plans save you time and money as you put what Dolores G. Hiskes has to share into practice.
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