Reading Worksheets

Besides taking care of three sick children, I’ve been working on the next set of reading worksheets for my oldest daughter. When she was four we tried using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. They may be easy lessons if your child is developmentally ready to learn how to read; mine was not. The book did give her a basic overview of some phonics. Once we both became frustrated with the book but before I realized that she just wasn’t ready to read even though she wanted to read, I cut up index cards with individual letters and word endings, like “op”; I would match letters like “t”, “b”, and “c” in front of the word ending to help make connections. She did slightly better with that.

Then I decided to make her a few reading worksheets based on a method of busy work I had in first grade. While the teacher worked with the various reading groups, the rest of us were expected to fold our papers into sections. Then the teacher had a huge chart split into the same number of sections with a word in each section. We then had to read the word and draw a picture of it on our matching piece of paper.

So for my daughter, I folded a sheet of paper into six sections and wrote a word at the bottom of each section. This has worked out well. For one thing, I could just pull out a worksheet from time to time to assess whether she was capable of blending the letters to make a word yet. Then since she has seemed ready it has been a really fun and low key way for her to learn. She loves to draw anyways; you do not want to know how many reams of paper we go through in a month. And I only ask her to do one worksheet during any formal schooling session, but she may do up to three at a sitting if she wants to. (Usually by the fourth, she starts getting tired and frustrated.)

I started out just making a few worksheets on the fly. Then I sat down with a list of probably thirty to forty three-letter words with short vowel sounds. I made a series of about thirty worksheets by hand slowly introducing each new category (by vowel) of words until all of the words were repeated at least three times. I also made some review sheets. But it took a while to fold all the paper and write it all in. We were halfway through the first stack of worksheets when I realized I might have to do this all over when my next child was ready to read. So I took all of the ones that my oldest daughter hadn’t seen yet to the library and made copies, figuring I would just remake the first half of the set and make a third copy for future children.

Then I figured that there had to be a better way. And to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to making the next set of worksheets (featuring letter blends: ck, ch, tr, th, sh, st with short vowel sounds) for my oldest daughter by hand. So I spent some time tinkering around with Microsoft Excel and came up with two templates. One has six sections per page; the other has nine sections per page. I found a script that looks more like manuscript print (with out the fancy “a”), and now I can just plug my word lists into the templates and save them to print out whenever I need.

So, in case anyone out there thinks these worksheets might be a good fit for your child, I thought I would pass on the specifications to make your own using Microsoft Excel. Like I said, for the first set I used about 30 or 40 words; I have about 60 for my second set. I do try to introduce new words in a logical order that builds on previous knowledge. I also learned early on to do a mix of new words (no more than three at a time) and previous words on every sheet so the child does not get overwhelmed or discouraged. Of course, you need to use words that a child can draw a picture to match. And we have had a few instances where I have had to explain what a word meant or discuss homonyms (the word “cot” tackled both issues).

I feel I should note that this isn’t the only reading related activity we do. We’ve also watched videos and played a variety of reading games.  And of course, we read to her.  This exercise practices phonics and builds a reading vocabulary at the same time.  I plan to do a third set of worksheets working with more letter blends, long vowel with silent ‘e’, and words ending with double consonants.  This page has a good starting point for word lists.  I don’t know if I’ll continue with home-made worksheets after the third set or move on to a published vocabulary program.  I might make a small set of worksheets with simple sentences at some point if I think it’s necessary.

Anywho, here are the specifications to make your own:

Six-Section Worksheet:

  1. Page Setup: portrait; .25 margins (top, bottom, left, right); .25 footer; 0 header
  2. Custom Header (under page setup): right section, page # button
  3. Columns: center; width 34.57
  4. Rows: height 387
  5. Border: use semi-thick line, outside, inside
  6. Font: Comic Sans MS; size 26

Nine-Section Worksheet: Everything same as Six-Section except Rows = 258

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