Phonics: How to explain split e diagraph?

(48 Posts)
QuiteQuietly Tue 02-Jun-15 11:24:17

Doing phonics at home with DD2 (Y1) and finally getting somewhere with it. But I am stuck now on how to explain the split e diagraph eg a-e in came, i-e in time. I have asked at school, but the teacher says the best way is just to be familiar with words where it is used and then "get a feeling" as to how it works. This approach to reading hasn't got us very far, hence tackling phonics at home.

I read somewhere online that eg in came the a-e should be together (so /ae/) but were squabbling so the m jumped in the middle. But this doesn't seem to work for lots of words. Are there different rules for different circumstances?

Before anyone jumps on me, we are not prepping for the phonics test - I truly hope she fails it in order to give the school a kick up the backside. I am just trying to address her lack of reading ability. She started y1 struggling with stage 1 books and her main intervention at school this year has been learning HWF on squeebles with a TA. My eldest two picked up reading by sight before school so phonics have not been so much of an issue to me before now.

GloriaPritchett Tue 02-Jun-15 11:37:41

A magic e makes the first vowel use its name?

So in came, instead of 'ah', a sounds like 'ay'.

NeddToDecideTodayShit Tue 02-Jun-15 11:41:33

Mine have been taught that it's a bossy e that makes the vowel before use its name rather than sound when they first learnt it. The next year there was a more sophisticated rule but I remember my dad pointing out 2 exceptions with the actual wording of the rule!

QuiteQuietly Tue 02-Jun-15 11:47:54

Thanks, but that also doesn't work with lots of words, eg "come" "love". If there are several rules, is there a rule which determines which rule you use? Or does she really need to learn to "get a feeling".

I haven't covered the names of letters yet - at what point should I do that?

electionfatigue Tue 02-Jun-15 11:53:31

magic e and words like come/love are "tricky words" which have to be learnt separately.

funnyossity Tue 02-Jun-15 11:57:22

I learned "magic e" from a Scots friend who'd been taught to spell. (Unlike me in a progressive 1970s school!)

It does require you to know the names of the vowels though.

Meita Tue 02-Jun-15 13:11:05

Ok I am just an interested parent but I think o-e in 'come' and 'love' are NOT split diagraphs. Instead children would be taught that sometimes the <o> makes an /u/ sound (and maybe they would be taught some regularities as to when this is likely, no idea) and they would be taught that <me> and <ve> are alternative spellings for the /m/ and /v/ sounds. Or maybe they would just be taught that the <e> in those words is a 'silent e' (rather than a 'magic e') but I believe this is not 'best practice'.
Or maybe they would just be taught that come and love are tricky words. I think in Y1 they may not yet be taught the particular phonics for those words.

The split diagraph o-e is a spelling for the sound /ow/ (as in snow). Whenever the sound is different, it is not actually a split diagraph...? I think.

So yes, it is a diagraph oe that makes the sound /ow/ but has been split by a consonant (sometimes two).

CliniqueChubbyStick Tue 02-Jun-15 13:11:10

I'm in Scotland too, I think the English approach is slightly different. I'm slightly baffled why your school aren't doing this and you're being left to do it alone!

Your DD should know that all letters have a name and a sound- we teach that straight away up here. Some children find it helpful to look at your mouth (really exaggerate the sound) to help it to click.

You start with magic e and look at words which do use it (e.g. page) and then introduce the tricky words separately.

Jolly phonics songs might help- they're on youtube.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCjJYB07aSU

KittyandTeal Tue 02-Jun-15 13:19:25

Alphablocks is grey for explaining 'magic e'.

However, you will need to teach tricky words separately. Google 'letters and sounds' for lists of tricky words in each phase.

MrsHathaway Tue 02-Jun-15 13:22:17

It isn't just e that can make other vowels say their names: i can too.

That said, I agree with pps that Alphablocks describe it well.

QuiteQuietly Tue 02-Jun-15 13:39:20

Thanks - I've had a scan through Alphablocks - is the pertinent episode the one that has a song "this is me my name is ee, bet you've never met a better letter yet...".

When o-e makes a sound like toe (eg mole), I have covered it with the rule that the "l" has jumped into the middle of the diagraph. Does this mean that the jumping-in-consonant rule is a good one to stick with for now and exceptions are just regarded as "tricky" for the moment?

I've been using the letters and sounds website a lot, but have left the tricky words alone as it seems to be covered by school for the moment.

I was under the impression that "magic e" was no longer correct? Think I read it on here somewhere. If "magic e" is still a current method, could someone tell me the rule? Sorry to be dim; I am from foreign parts. I would really like to get to grips with the split-e thing as every book has hundreds of them and it feels like our last big hurdle.

undoubtedly Tue 02-Jun-15 13:43:45

I teach phonics, and say that the vowel in a cvc word makes a short sound (we practise a,i,o,u,e short sounds) but a magic e on the end makes the vowel sound longer (ay,ee,eye,ohh,oo).

CecilyP Tue 02-Jun-15 14:11:59

'Magic e' and the 'split digraph' are completely different approaches to arrive at the same destination - how to pronounce words where the e at the end affects the pronunciation of the proceeding vowel. With 'magic e' the e at the end changes the proceeding vowel to 'make it say its name', eg e changes hop to hope, so you would have to know the names of the vowels to be able to use it. With the 'split digraph' the vowel sound already exists as either ae ee ie oe and ue and is split be the consonant splitting the 2 letters, eg the p splits the oe in hoe to make hope.

Some people will tell you that 'magic e' is no longer the current method, but many people still seem to be using it. It would probably be best to stick to one way or the other to avoid confusing your child. While either method works for dozens, if not hundreds, of one syllable words, it does not work for all of them, and it seems to be the some of the most common ones that are the exceptions eg come, some, have, love, above, gone, done, live, give. There are no rules on how these words are pronounced - you just know them when you know them.

KittyandTeal Tue 02-Jun-15 14:14:08

I teach phonics to reception and year 2. We still call it magic or silent e but it is not taught as a single concept, rather in conjunction with tricky words and alternative sounds for digraphs.

Flutterfairy77 Tue 02-Jun-15 14:25:31

I think Ruth Miskin's explanation may be exactly what you're looking for, the best in my opinion. Hopefully i can link to the correct clip.

m.youtube.com/watch?v=NRYiOcqyEs8

mrz Tue 02-Jun-15 18:54:30

As you've noticed the idea of the e on the end being magic and making the word say it's name doesn't work for too many words for it to be useful - olive, valve, shove, thyme, programme, engine, none, horse, course, centre etc etc etc.

When we teach words containing split diagrams (we call them split spellings) we write each sound (not leter) on a square of paper (post it note) so if the word was name - n -ae- m (say the sounds to hear the word) and tell the children that a long time ago that is how the word was spelt but that someone decided it would look better if the e was at the end so we need to move it. Then ask the child to cut the sound in half and move the e to the end. Then we would say the sounds again reminding the child that we say the sound when we see the first letter because we've split the spelling .
Children love the idea of physically splitting my spellings and it really reinforces the idea that the two letters are just one sound.

In words like love, have, give, glove, massive we would teach that ve is a spelling for the sound /v/ so not a split digraph

mrz Tue 02-Jun-15 19:50:39

Just sat through Alphablocks ��

QuiteQuietly Tue 02-Jun-15 20:43:34

Thanks all. I think I will stick with the split diagraph explanation with some tricky word exceptions and "ve" making a /v/ sound. The cutting up paper sounds like a good reinforcer.

The Ruth Miskin video was also useful (I will be going on a further watching spree later) - in it there was a brief cut to a sheet with boxes showing lists of letter patterns that made similar sounds. It looks really useful and I've found it online. Does anyone know how many of these sounds are taught to end of Y1? I am hoping DD2 will be caught up by September (for Y2), so it would be good to know what to cover.

ouryve Tue 02-Jun-15 20:51:02

DS2 got magic e straight way after seeing it on alphablocks. It adds extra reinforcement with a special tune for when magic e is working. He has LDs and just emerging speech, but when the magic e concept clicked, he came and showed me how it worked with his wooden letters, with a little dance to demonstrate what was happening grin

mrz Tue 02-Jun-15 21:09:16

Try to avoid the "tricky" word thing come, some, have, give, etc aren't split digraphs that's all. Not all words that end in e are split digraphs so it's important children aren't led to believe they are.

The term tricky words is so often misused - they are words that contain a sound or spelling the child hasn't been taught previously. They aren't words that should be taught or learnt as wholes. Treat them in the same way as any other word explaining how the letters represent the sounds ...ask the child what sounds they can hear in some or give and they will be able to write/read most of the word with you (the expert) filling in the missing information
The spelling o can represent the sound /u/ son, won, mother, other, colour and me is a spelling for the sound /m/

Tricky doesn't mean sight!

Mashabell Wed 03-Jun-15 07:18:16

The main spanners in the works are the very common words with a surplus -e:
have, give, live, gone, are
against
gave, drive, alive, bone, care.

The basic idea is that when a, e, i, o and u are followed by a single consonant and another vowel, they are open and have a *long sound*:
came, theme, time, tome, tune.

When they are closed, i.e. followed by just one or more consonants (at hand, in print, on cost, up under) or several consonants and a vowel (banter, hinder, under, batter, bitter, hotter, butter), they have a short sound.

That is the main way of spelling a, i and u as long and short vowels.
Long e or /ee/ has only 86 words with that method (here, eve, even...).
Long o has lots of exceptions too (roll, coal, bowl).

It often does not work for reading either.

mrz Wed 03-Jun-15 07:48:25

Could you explain how the <o> in stop is shorter than the <o> in go ... Same letter takes up the same space ... It's possible to elongate the /oa/ in gooooooo! just as it's possible to to elongate the /o/ in stooooooop! They are completely different sounds not the same sound said short/long.

mrz Wed 03-Jun-15 07:59:54

When they are closed, i.e. followed by just one or more consonants (at hand, in print, on cost, up under) or several consonants and a vowel (banter, hinder, under, batter, bitter, hotter, butter), they have a short sound.

cold? post? kind? pint? wild? chamber? etc etc

Mashabell Wed 03-Jun-15 09:16:17

I did say It often does not work for reading either.

'Old' is usually pronounced 'oald'.

The others all vary:
post - posthumous, kind - kindle, pint - print, wild - wilderness, chamber - clamber.

But more words obey the short/long principle than don't.

The main reason why learning to read English takes an exceptionally long time is because a, e, i, o and u (and y too) have two main sounds, and sometimes a few others as well (many, pretty, move, truth).

QuiteQuietly Wed 03-Jun-15 10:49:57

I don't think it's the writing that makes English hard to learn at all! The hard bits of English are the millions of tenses and subtle degrees of politeness and formality. Coming from a language background of 11 distinct written vowels and a clear method of differentiating between digraphs and dipthongs (as perhaps you do too Masha?) doesn't help with the writing, but it is hardly the most difficult part. But every language has its weird letter that doesn't do too much or odd spellings that are that way just because. One of my native languages was "rationalised" in the early 20th century and it still has its odd moments (hard signs, fleeting vowels?). But English can't be that traumatic to learn, as many of people around the world default to it when they can't use their mother tongue.

The rules I now have for split e are neither perfect nor entirely comprehensive, but they will do the job well enough for now. Thanks.

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