When we purchased our Sonlight Reading program we went with the Readers 1 program, rather than the Kindergarten readers. I knew it was going to be a leap, but I didn't want Ian-6yo to be bored, and I wanted my money's worth, so I figured we could take it slow and stretch the lessons out over two years. So it's a bit understandable that the reading program has been a bit of a struggle, and at some point I realized I was going to have to do a bit more than just slow down. I needed to do something different. So I thought I'd share my solution.
When I began to rethink the way Ian was being taught reading, here's what it boiled down to... Every week or so, I would put rhyming words on index cards, so we had a flashcard system going on. I would introduce the words one day, then we would bring out the LeapFrog Word Whammer the next day and use the Word Whammer to build the words. (At the time, we were new to Handwriting Without Tears, which cautions against having children write words until they get better at forming letters.) Another day I would print a few of the words on the blackboard, nice and big and have Ian trace them with his finger or with a wet sponge (an extension of a Handwriting Without Tears exercise).
This worked okay for awhile, and it satisfied my need to feel like Ian was learning to read, but it frustrated me too. The process of going through the flashcards and keeping track of them felt cumbersome to me. So while thinking about last year's curriculum (My Father's World), and their use of a "blend ladder" to teach reading, I thought of a new idea that incorporates the blend ladder. I like it. Ian likes it, and it's just so much better on so many levels.
So this is what we do: I create a list on a single column table. I think we have 9 possible rows. Then I pick a rhyme family of 3 letter words, such as bat, cat, hat, etc, and type them into my little table. The font is quite large, so the words are about one inch high. Next, I type out the same words, just as big on a second page in a font called "Trace", which is basically a dashed line.
How I use them: After printing the pages out, I introduce the words on our word ladder. We read them together, (although lately, he reads them on his own), and we use the Word Whammer to build the words for fun. :) Then the next day, we go over the words again and Ian traces the words on the second page. He loves this and it's helping his handwriting as well as his reading. On subsequent days, we do a page in Kumon's Rhyming Words workbook, or supplement with worksheets copied from The Mailbox magazine.