Find Out Exactly What Skills Your Child Needs to Master Reading

Use this checklist to determine exactly where your children are on the path to reading. Each step has simple tests you can give your child, which will reveal any specific gaps in their skills that need filling in. Additionally, we include the materials you’ll need to build those missing skills.

STEP 1: Phonemic Awareness

Your child can tell you the beginning sound of simple words. Go here for complete information.

Test Your Child

Ask your child slowly and clearly: “Can you tell me what sound the word ‘dog’ starts with? It starts with /d/. Let’s say /d/ /d/ dog together.” Have her say with you,  “/D/ /d/ dog.”

“Let’s try another word. Can you say the first sound of ‘cat’? What’s the first sound you hear in ‘cat’? (Wait to see if she can say the first sound). Let’s say it together, “/C/ /c/ cat.”

Success: If your child can easily detect the beginning sounds of simple words, your child has mastered this skill, and you can go to Step 2: Alphabetic Principle.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems discerning the beginning sounds of words, use the games and lessons below until they master this step; then, your child is ready for the next step.

Get these to Master Phonemic Awareness

Letter Sound Alphabet Cards – PDF Download

$6.95

LETTER FREE PHONICS

PHONEMIC AWARENESS BUBBLES

Partners in Rhyme

STEP 2: Alphabetic Principle

Your child can tell you the common sounds that letters make. Go here for complete information.

Test Your Child

Gather pictures of an apple, dog, cat, jug, etc. Use pictures that do not have blended beginning sounds. (Frog is not an ideal choice because the beginning sound of the word has an /fr/ blended sound, which can be confusing.) Please make sure the pictures are accurate renderings (not distorted cartoon-like versions). It is best to isolate the image, so it does not contain distracting graphics or other items. Beside each picture, put a nicely rendered version of the beginning letter. Let’s use the apple as an example.

Point to the letter ‘a’ beside the picture of the apple and ask your child: “Can you tell me what sound this letter makes?” [He should be able to see the apple, detect that it begins with the /a/ sound, and say, “/A/.”

Do this with several more pictures.

A more challenging test would be to point to various letters on an alphabet chart or an isolated letter card and ask the child, “What sound does this letter make?”

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems saying the sound of each of the 26 letters, he is ready for Step 3: Phoneme Blending.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems detecting and saying these letter sounds, use the following app games to help him learn/strengthen his working knowledge of the alphabetic principle before moving to the next level of reading.

Get these Game Apps to Master The Alphabetic Principle

ABC Magic Phonics 1

ABC Magic Phonics 2

ABC Magic Phonics 3, Letter Sound Matching

ABC Magic Phonics 4

ABC Magic Phonics 5, Connecting Sounds, Letters and Pictures

ABC Magic Phonics 6, Memory Match

Sound Beginnings, Blending, Segmenting and Reading 3-Letter Short Vowel Words

STEP 3: Phoneme Blending

Your child can blend 3- and 4-letter sounds into a word. Go here for complete information.

Test Your Child

Start by gathering 3-phoneme CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) pictures images. Examples of this would be picture images of a cat, a bed, and a dog. Make sure your child knows clearly what the name is for each picture before proceeding.

Tell your child that you are going to say the sounds of one of these words and ask her to tell you which word picture you are saying, “Can you point to the /b/ + /e/ + /d/? Which one is the /b/ + /e/ + /d/. You may have to repeatedly say the sound sequence to help your child understand which word these sounds represent. She should be able to point to the picture of the bed. Try this same game with a variety of other pictures.

 

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems deciding which picture matches the sounds you said, then she is ready for Step 4: Phoneme Segmentation.

Get these to Master Phoneme Blending

Needs Work with 3-letter words: If your child is having problems with 3-letter words, use the following app games and printable booklet lessons to strengthen this skill.

3-Letter Phonetic Word Cards PDF Download – 6 Sets
60 3-Letter Word Cards

$14.95

ABC Reading Magic, Short Vowel Words

Needs Work with 4-letter words: If your child is doing well with 3-letter words but having trouble with 4-letter words, use this app game to strengthen this skill. Once mastering both 3- and 4-letter words, your child is ready for Step 4: Phoneme Segmenting.

ABC Reading Magic 2, Consonant Blends

STEP 4: Phoneme Segmenting & Word Building

Your child can dissect a word into its letter sounds without seeing the word. Go here for complete information.

There are four similar tests you need to administer at this level to determine which skills are strong and where there are gaps that need filling in with specific training in that skill. These tests are: 

  • CVC Phoneme Segmenting (consonant-vowel-consonant)
  • CVCC (consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant) and CCVC (consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant)Phoneme Segmenting (
  • CVC Word Building
  • CVCC and CCVC Word Building

CVC Phoneme Segmenting

Test Your Child

Gather specific images for this lesson following the image collection guidelines from the previous steps. You will also need placeholders such as bingo chips or some type of token. A card strip with three circles or squares on it could also be used. These items will be used as placeholders for the sounds of each word picture.

Choose a picture, a cat, for example, and place three tokens in a row underneath the picture of the cat. Next, say the name of the image and how it sounds when broken down into its component sounds, “Cat, /c/ /a/ /t/ cat.” Each time you say one of the sounds of the word ‘cat,’ touch one of the placeholders in a left to right sequence.

Repeat this process with other picture images, “Hat, /h/ /a/ /t/, hat. Dog /d/ /o/ /g/ dog.”

Ask your child if they can break down any of the word/pictures into sounds.

 

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems with this segmenting process, you can test to see if he can segment words with four phonemes. If he can do that, he is ready for Step 5: Word Decoding.

 

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with the words, he needs to practice using the app below to gain mastery before moving on to Step 5.

Get this App to Master CVC Phoneme Segmenting

ABC Reading Magic, Short Vowel Words

CVCC, CCVC Phoneme Segmenting

Test Your Child

This test is the same test above, but you will be using different picture cards using four phonemes: ‘jump,’ ‘skip,’ ‘drum,’ ‘hand,’ ‘pond,’ ‘crab,’ ‘plum,’ etc.

Start with the picture of the hand. Place the four placeholders in a horizontal line beneath the picture. Tell your child that you are going to show him how to play this game (see above for info on placeholders if needed). Say, “hand, /h/ + /a/ + /n/ + /d/, hand,” and each time you say one of the sounds touch one of the placeholders in a left to right sequence.

Repeat this process with the word pond, “Pond, /p/ + /o/ + /n/ + /d/, pond,”

Ask your child to show you the sounds of the next picture.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems saying what each object is and breaking the words into their letter sounds, she is ready for Word Decoding.

Needs Work: If your child is doing well with 3-letter words but having trouble with 4-letter words, he needs to practice using this app to gain mastery before moving on to word building. Once he has mastered both 3-letter and 4-letter words, your child is ready for Word Decoding.

Get this App to Master CVCC, CCVC Phoneme Segmenting

ABC Reading Magic 2, Consonant Blends

CVC Word Building

Test Your Child

Use the same picture cards from the previous test: ‘cat,’ ‘hat,’ ‘dog,’ ‘sun,’ ‘pot,’ etc. You will also need to have letters printed or neatly written out on little squares that are about the same size as the placeholders mentioned earlier. 

Start with the picture of the cat. Place the three placeholders in a horizontal line beneath the picture. Have the letters ‘c,’ ‘a,’ and ‘t’ in random order below the picture.

Tell your child that you are going to show her how to play this game. Say, “Cat, /c/ + /a/ + /t/, cat,” and each time you say one of the sounds touch one of the placeholders in a left to right sequence. Then find /c/ card and place it on top of the first placeholder on the left. Next, say the three sounds of the word again with emphasis on the /a/ sound. Place the /a/ card on top of the middle token. Repeat the sounds again and then place the /t/ card in the last spot, to the right of the other two letters.

Repeat this process with the word ‘hat’ to show your child again how to do word building. First say, “Hat, /h/ + /a/ + /t/, hat,” and then, one by one, place the letters cards on top of the sound placeholders from left to right.

Place the correct three letters for the ‘dog’ picture randomly beneath the picture and sound placeholders. Ask your child to show you how to put the letters in the right order for this picture. Test your child with a few more pictures.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems segmenting the words into their letter sounds and then placing the correct letter on top of each placeholder, then you can test to see if he can build words with four phonemes. If he can do that, he is ready for Step 5: Word Decoding.

Needs Work:  If your child is having problems with the words, he needs to practice word building before progressing to word building with four phonemes and four letters. Use the app below.

Get this App to Master CVC Word Building

ABC Reading Magic, Short Vowel Words

CVCC, CCVC Word Building

Test Your Child

This test is the same test above for CVC words, except that you will use different picture cards with four phonemes. Examples of these types of words are; jump, pond, skip, drum, hand, and plum.

Start with the picture of the hand. Place the four placeholders in a horizontal line beneath the picture. Have the four letter-sound cards mixed in random order below each picture. Tell your child that you will show her how to play this game (see above for info on placeholders if needed). Say, “Hand, /h/ /a/ /n/ /d/ hand.” Each time you say one of the sounds, touch one of the placeholders in a left to right sequence. Place each sound-letter card in its corresponding proper place.

Repeat this process with the word pond, 

Ask your child to show you the sounds of the next picture and how to build the word.

 

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems building each word, she is ready for Word Decoding.

 

Needs Work: If your child is having challenges building words, she needs to practice using this app to gain mastery before moving on to word decoding.

Get this App to Master CVCC, CCVC Word Building

ABC Reading Magic 2, Consonant Blends

STEP 5: Word Decoding

Your child can quickly and easily read CVC and CVCC/CCVC words. Go here for complete information.

There are two similar tests you need to administer at this level to determine which skills are strong and where there are gaps that need filling in with specific training in that skill. These tests are:

  • CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant)
  • CVCC and CCVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant and consonant, consonant, vowel, consonant)

CVC Words

Test Your Child

Start by gathering or creating large font 3-letter lowercase words such as the words:   ram, bed, sit, log, run. 

Starting with the word, ‘ram,’ don’t tell her what the word is but just show the word. Ask her to say what each letter sound in this word says. [She should be able to say, /r/ /a/ /m/]. Next, ask her to say the letters together and tell you what word this is. [She should be able to say, /r/ /a/ /m/, ‘ram’].

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems decoding each word, note this down and go to the CVCC/CCVC Test.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these words, she needs to use the game apps and printable lessons below to master CVC words.

Get these to Master CVC Words

Short Vowel Words, 3-Letter
PDF Downloads
12 Cards per Set – $3.95 each

Short ‘a’ Words

Short ‘e’ Words

Short ‘i’ Words

Short ‘o’ Words

Short ‘u’ Words

Short ‘u’ Words with Double Consonant Endings

All 6 Sets – 60 Word Cards
$14.95

ABC Reading Magic, Short Vowel Words

WORD READING MAGIC 1

CVCC, CCVC Words

Test Your Child

Start with the word ‘skip.’ Ask your child to say each sound of each letter and then to put all the sounds together into a word. He should be able to say, “/l/ /a/ /m/ /p/.” Next, ask him to say the letters together and tell you what word this is. He should be able to say, “/l/ /a/ /m/ /p/, lamp.”

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems decoding what each word is, then you can go to the next step of reading sentences.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems decoding any of these words, he needs to use the printed materials and game apps lessons below to master CVCC/CCVC words.

Get these to Master CVCC, CCVC Words

4-Letter Phonetic Word Cards with Consonant Blends
PDF Downloads
15 Cards per Set – $3.95 each

Action Words

Outdoor Activities

Things at Home

Animals

People and Activities

Objects

Work Related

All 7 Sets – 108 Cards – $22.95

ABC Reading Magic 2, Consonant Blends

WORD READING MAGIC 2

STEP 6: Reading Sentences

Your child can read simple complete sentences. Go here for complete information.

We have ten different sentence reading booklet levels that increase in complexity. In addition, there are ten sentence-reading tests you can administer to determine where is your child’s learning edge of practice. 

We suggest that your child has fluid competency with these different sentence reading levels before moving on to reading books. The appropriate game apps and lessons are provided for your child to master each sentence reading level.

Test 1: Reading 2-Word Sentences with CVC Phonetic Words

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. Dot hops.
2. Jan fans.
3. Pam gabs.
4. Liz mops.

Showing your child one at a time, ask her to read each sentence.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentences, move on to Test 2.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the game app and printable booklet pack below so your child can build up his mastery before moving on to Test 2.

Get these to Master 2-Word Sentences with CVC Phonetic Words

2-Word CVC Phonetic Word Sentence – 40 Booklets – PDF Download

$5.95

Sentence Reading Magic 1

Test 2: Reading 3-Word Sentences with CVC Phonetic Words

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. Al can add.
2. Dad hugs Sal.
3. Mom fed Liz.
4. Tess cuts it.

Showing your child one at a time, ask her to read each sentence.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentences, move on to Test 3.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the printable booklet pack below so your child can build up her mastery before moving on to Test 3.

Get this to Master 3-Word Sentences with CVC Phonetic Words

3-Word CVC Phonetic Word Sentence – PDF Download
40 Booklets

$5.95

Test 3: Reading 4-Word Sentences with CVC Phonetic Words

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. Todd cut the logs.
2. The bus is big.
3. A jog is fun.
4. A pop is fun.

Showing your child one at a time, ask him to read each sentence.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentences, move on to Test 4.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the printable booklet pack below so your child can build up his mastery before moving on to Test 4.

Get this to Master 4-Word Sentences with CVC Phonetic Words

4-Word CVC Phonetic Word Sentence – PDF Download
40 Booklets

$5.95

Test 4: Reading Long Sentences and Two Sentences with CVC Phonetic Words

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. The dog will not let him get it.
2. Bev has fun. Bev sits in the sun.
3. Matt will hop on for fun.
4. Mel has a big rip. Mel is sad.

Showing your child one at a time, ask her to read each of these sentences.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentences, move on to Test 5.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the printable booklet pack below so your child can build up his mastery before moving on to Test 5.

Get this to Master Long Sentences and Two Sentences with CVC Phonetic Words

CVC Phonetic Word Sentence Booklets with 2 Sentences – PDF Download 40 Booklets

$5.95

Test 5: Reading Single Sentences Consonant Blends

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. Brad can camp in the tent.
2. Tess was not glad and wept.
3. Stan held the twig in his hand.
4. Brett can grab the stem and sniff.

Showing your child one at a time, ask her to read each of these sentences.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentences, move on to Test 6.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the games app and printable booklet pack below so your child can build up her mastery before moving on to Test 6.

Get these to Master Single Sentences Consonant Blends

Consonant Blend Single Sentence Booklets – PDF Download 20 Booklets

$3.95

Sentence Reading Magic 2

Test 6: Reading Double Sentences Consonant Blends

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. Stan will not miss. Stan will hit the golf flag.
2. Jill can stand in the grass. Jill held on as the rod bent.
3. Tess got a gift. Tess can fill the gift in the slot of the pig bank.
4. Scott ran fast. Scott jumps and lands in the sand.

Showing your child one at a time, ask her to read each of these sentence groups.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentence groups, move on to Test 7.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the games app and printable booklet pack below so your child can build up her mastery before moving on to Test 7.

Get these to Master Double Sentences Consonant Blends

Consonant Blend Double Sentence Booklets – PDF Download 20 Booklets

$3.95

Sentence Reading Magic 2

Test 7: Reading Single Sentences Advanced Consonant Blends

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. Brent can blend a drink.
2. For a stunt, Fran twists and flips.
3. The crust got crisp.
4. The craft did drift in the wind.

Showing your child one at a time, ask him to read each of these sentence groups.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentence groups, move on to Test 8.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the games app and printable booklet pack below so your child can build up his mastery before moving on to Test 8.

Get these to Master Single Sentences Advanced Consonant Blends

Advanced Consonant Blend Single Sentence Cards – PDF Download 20 Booklets

$3.95

Sentence Reading Magic 2

Test 8: Reading Double Sentences Advanced Consonant Blends

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. The cramp stops Brad’s sprint. Brad will not win.
2. Frank stands on his stilts. Frank will not trip.
3. The stump had a split in it. Ants had a nest in the stump.
4. Gwen will not stand, but sit. Gwen strums the strings.

Showing your child one at a time, ask her to read each of these sentence groups.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentence groups, move on to Test 9.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the games app and printable booklet pack below so your child can build up her mastery before moving on to Test 9.

Get these to Master Double Sentences Advanced Consonant Blends

Advanced Consonant Blend Double Sentence Booklets – PDF Download 20 Booklets

$3.95

Sentence Reading Magic 2

Test 9: Reading Single Sentences with Multiple Syllables

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. A trumpet is a brass instrument.
2. A plant did exist to the left of the cabinet.
3. A satin ribbon was on the kitten’s neck.
4. The robin trills at sunset.

Showing your child one at a time, ask her to read each of these sentences.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentences, move on to Test 10.

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the printable booklet pack below so your child can build up her mastery before moving on to Test 10.

Get this to Master Single Sentences with Multiple Syllables

Multiple Syllable Phonetic Single Sentence Booklets – PDF Download 20 Booklets

$3.95

Test 10: Reading Double Sentences with Multiple Syllables

Using clearly-rendered large typing, create the following sentences:
1. Gavin travels fast on his sled. His mittens stiffen in the frost.
2. Dennis prospects in the sand and gravel. Dennis spots a nugget hidden in the gravel.
3. Allison selected cotton napkins for the picnic. Allison set the picnic up on the blanket.
4. The kitten did not relax in the basket. The kitten pretends to hunt.

Showing your child one at a time, ask him to read each of these sentence groups.

Success: If your child doesn’t have any problems reading these sentences, he is ready to start reading books with simple sentences-such as our learn to read decodable books!

Needs Work: If your child is having problems with any of these sentences, use the printable booklet pack below so your child can build up his mastery before moving he starts reading decodable readers.

Get this to Master Double Sentences with Multiple Syllables

Multiple Syllable Phonetic Double Sentence Booklets – PDF Download 20 Booklets

$3.95