In today's Perspectives article I'll discuss the original purpose of the OnTrack Reading Phonogram Flash Cards plus two other potential uses. If you download the PDF, you will need to print the pages out on your home printer, using card stock, and then cut them into individual cards.

Download the OnTrack Reading Phonogram Flashcards

Free Phonogram Flashcards

The Intended Use of the Flash Cards

Use them with the OnTrack Reading Homeschooling Program described here on the site.

The OnTrack Reading Homeschooling Program is an adapted version of the exceptional reading and spelling program designed by Ms. Romalda Spalding decades ago and completely presented in her book, The Writing Road to Reading. A large number of homeschoolers, as well as many public schools, have found her program to be invaluable for the initial teaching of reading and spelling. Materials for the Spalding Method, as it is commonly known, are available from various sources if one wants to use the program in its original form.

My redesign of the program, and the reasoning behind that redesign, are discussed extensively here. One of the changes was a restructuring of the phonograms proposed by Ms. Spalding. The OnTrack Reading Phonogram Flash Cards replace the flash cards in Ms. Spalding's original program. You will need them if you intend to use the modified program discussed here on the site.

A Potential Use of the Flash Cards

Use them to review the advanced code following completion of the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook.

The phonics advanced code presented on the OnTrack Reading Phonogram Flash Cards is exactly the same as the advanced code taught via the use of the Advanced Code Workbook. Note, however, that if you are using the workbook with a child, you do not need the flash cards. (I never used them with any of my clients, for example.)

Nevertheless, the flash cards could be productively used in one of two ways. First, they could be used for occasional review of the phonics advanced code once the workbook is completed. Following completion of the workbook, for example, a child should understand that the two options for the letter "e" are the /e/ sound in "bet" and the /ee/ sound in "she," and that they should be tested in that order when encountering an unfamiliar word. Thus, when shown the letter "e" on the flash card, a child should respond with "/e/, /ee/". Similarly, the letter "a" is taught as representing three sounds, /a/ (bat), /ae/ (table), and /o/ (want), so a child who has learned the code via the workbook should be able to respond "/a/, /ae/, /o/" when shown the card with the letter "a".

The second way the flash cards could be used would be to incorporate the same review process into the lesson plans while initially going through the workbook. For example, once the /ow/ and /oe/ lessons are completed, the card with the digraph "ow" on it could be pulled from the set of cards and used for review during the daily lesson plan. Similarly, the "tch" card could be pulled out for occasional review as soon as the consonant /ch/ sound has been covered in the fourth section of the workbook. As a child progressed through the workbook, the stack of flash cards that had already been fully covered in the workbook would grow, ending with all 84 cards in the review stack.

Again, I want to emphasize the fact that the flash cards are not an essential part of the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Program, but they are essential if you are planning on using the OnTrack Reading Homeschooling Program for the reasons described above.

Another Potential Use of the Flash Cards

Use them as a stand-alone phonics presentation.

Frankly, I doubt using the flash cards alone would work with struggling readers. If a child is already struggling to read, I would recommend the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Workbook, because that is exactly the use for which it was designed. However, if you have a child who is learning to read easily, the flash cards could be quite useful in getting that child to systematically organize the phonics advanced code in his or her mind. Were I to use the cards in this way, I would point out various examples during reading such as, for example, the /o/ sound of the letter "a" in a word like "want," and would eventually show the child the letter "a" flash card and explain that the first sound is /a/ (bat), the second is /ae/ (table) and the third is /o/ (want), and would then challenge the child to learn those options in that particular order, and to be able to recite them when shown the letter "a" flash card.

Of one thing I'm certain. A child that learned all of the flash cards well would have no trouble with the English phonics advanced code, for the flash cards cover all but the most unusual items of code, items that usually have to be memorized as peculiarities of English, such as the "sw" in "answer" and "sword", for example.

Summing Up

This concludes the discussion of three possible uses for the flash cards. Again, they are only really necessary if one is using the OnTrack Reading Homeschooling Program presented on this site. If you're interested in purchasing the PDF, or in learning more about the design of the cards, you can download the entire set above.