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Survey of the Ayres List

By Rodney Everson • Updated Jul 27th, 2023

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Since my proposal to eliminate Ms. Spalding’s five rules governing the ending “e” involves adding several phonograms, it seemed prudent to survey the Extended Ayres List used in the WRTR curriculum to see when various spellings first surface. You can download the survey as a PDF below.

How the List Should be Interpreted

The phonograms are listed in the order they should be presented if you decide to use the 84 phonograms in the OnTrack Reading Homeschooling Program proposed here. Notice that once the first 50 phonograms have been taught, the entire 113 word list in sections A to G can be dictated without encountering an unfamiliar phonogram. Then it is just a matter of teaching new phonograms at a fast enough pace that your child has learned all those needed for new words encountered in dictation.

Author’s Note

The number 113 is more like 104. First of all, it's no longer necessary to teach the seven "ending-e" words (time, have, blue, chance, charge, little, are) until they appear, usually much later, in the Ayres List. Also, words like you were counted twice to arrive at the number 113, because you appears again as a root word when your first appears.

Section H will require teaching the next seven phonograms in the list because the phonograms ne, me, aw and au will be needed in that section. (The reason the phonograms ce, ge and ze appear where they do in the list is because it should be relatively easy to present all of the ending digraphs one after the other. Your child will already know the sound of the leading consonant letter, so they are presented as a class of ending digraphs.)

After that, the precise order of the presentation of the remaining phonograms isn't as important as making sure they are each taught before they are needed for dictation. Following the initial teaching, the phonograms should be reviewed in a random order anyway, concentrating on those recently learned, plus those presented earlier that are proving more difficult to learn.

A Comment on the Numbering

The number assigned to each word, for example, queen-number 471, is not exact. The words in the list in WRTR are not numbered, so I had to number them myself. Some root words were probably counted more than once as a result. The main point was to learn how far into the list a phonogram would first appear.

The first word in which a particular phonogram appears is listed. If you do find an earlier example of any particular phonogram in the Ayres List, please let me know and I'll revise the PDF. Hopefully, any such discovery won't materially affect the order that the phonograms should be be taught.


I've included this Survey of the Ayres List to show that some thought went into whether the modified phonogram structure and the modified coding I'm proposing would create more problems than are solved by the modifications. I'm convinced that the changes will indeed be improvements, and that little will be sacrificed by making the changes I've suggested.

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