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Teaching the Phonograms

Once you've made the changes to the rules in The Writing Road to Reading (WRTR), you can begin teaching the phonograms. Follow the instructions in WRTR, but make the modifications below:

Obtain the 84 Phonogram Cards

You will need the 84 Phonogram Cards that incorporate the changes that have been discussed. They are currently available as a PDF download of 14 front pages and 14 back pages with six cards per page. You can purchase the PDF from for $6.95. Once downloaded, you can print them on card stock and cut them apart on the cut lines. When you get to, you can use the "Preview" feature located below the PDF cover to view the entire set of flash cards

Go to to view or purchase the OnTrack Reading Phonogram Flash Cards

Teach the first 50 of the 84 revised phonograms.

The 5th edition of WRTR instructs you to teach 45 phonograms before starting dictation of words of the Ayres List, whereas the 4th edition specifies 54 phonograms. Using the OnTrack Reading phonograms, if you teach the first 50 you will be able to then dictate all of the words in sections A-G of the Ayres list in either the 4th or 5th edition. (The lists in each edition differ because the 5th edition has had several words added to the Ayres List.) As you reach the end of sections A-G, start teaching the rest of the 84 phonograms.

Introduce the Language "Digraph," "Marker," and "Ending"

As you teach the first 50 phonograms you will also introduce the concept of a marker phonogram and an ending phonogram. Marker phonograms and ending phonograms are defined here. You will also introduce the concept of a digraph, which is just a phonogram spelled with two letters.

Phonogram #24 is the letter "x." When you introduce it, say "This is the phonogram /k/s/; it is one of four phonograms that are markers. I will explain what a marker is when we start learning to spell words." Later, refer to it as the "marker /k/s/" to reinforce its role as a marker of the first vowel sound preceding it.

Phonogram #27 is the digraph "sh." When you introduce it, say "This is the phonogram /sh/. It is one sound (demonstrate /sh/) but we use two letters to spell it. When a phonogram has two letters, we call it a digraph." Later, when you refer to it, you don't need to call it a digraph. Just refer to it as the "phonogram /sh/"

Note: Take some time at this point to clarify the pronunciation of "digraph" (many children will say "diagraph" after first hearing it) and then explain why we have them. The reason is quite simple, and is easy to illustrate since this is phonogram #27. The simple explanation is that we used up all 26 letters before we finished writing all the sounds, so someone figured out that we could use two letters to represent one sound. Then refer again to the spelling of the /sh/ sound. Also, it's likely that the issue of phonogram qu will come up here, since it's already been taught and is also a digraph. Remind your child that the phonogram qu is two sounds, /k/ + /w/, and tell him that there are only two digraphs that stand for more than one sound (the other one is the phonogram le), and that all the rest he will be learning are like the phonogram sh and stand for a single sound.

Phonogram #41 is the digraph "ay." When you introduce it, say, "This phonogram is /ae/. It is an ending digraph, so we usually see it at the end of words." Later, refer to it as the "ending digraph for /ae/" to distinguish it from other /ae/ spellings such as phonograms ai and eigh.

Repeat that same process with phonograms #43 (oy), #48 (le), #49 (ve), and #50 (me)

Later, when you teach the remaining 34 phonograms, each of the phonogram cards that introduce either a marker or an ending have notes on the cards to remind you to refer to them in that manner. Start teaching the remaining phonograms after dictating sections A-G of the Ayres List in either the 4th or 5th edition of WRTR. After teaching the first 50 of the 84 revised phonograms you can start Dictating the Ayres List.