Orton Gillingham for All

It’s a Fact — Consonants

Today, I want to give you a few facts about consonants.

  • 21 Consonants are: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z
  • Consonants never say their name (except in words like x-ray).
  • Most consonants have one sound.
  • Five consonants have more than one sound: c, g, s, x, n
  • The letter r does not say “er.” It sounds more like a barking dog – “rhhh.”
  • The letter q is ALWAYS followed by a u in English words. They make the sound “kw” as in queen.
  • The letter x makes three sounds:
    “ks” as in Box
    “gz” as in Exit
    “z” as in Xylophone
  • No English words end in the letters v or j.
  • V is always followed by e. For example: active, believe
  • -ge and -dge are used for “j” at the end of a word. For example: ridge, engage
  • Consonant blends are two or three consonants which blend together: shrill, fast, lamp
  • Digraphs are two consonants representing as single sound: shout, thimble, chest

Always, Then, Last: REVLOC order

In my Orton Gillingham journey I’ve heard some who use the word CLOVER to teach syllable types. In the class I took, the word to remember syllable types is REVLOC.

The reason for using REVLOC is that this is the order of the syllable for labeling. CLOVER may be an actual word, but REVLOC will give better guidance when trying to decode a word by remembering which syllable types overrule the next.

I’ll give an example and then you can see the attached sheet for further explanation.

The syllable: tur

At first glance, it might seem that this is a closed syllable. But closer inspection tells us that the syllable is actually “r-controlled” and we have to use that rule because “r-controlled” comes before closed syllables.


Always look for R(-controlled) first.
Then look for E, V, L.
Last look for O and C.

Also included in this post is a worksheet of syllable types for labeling and the answers.

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I’m Seeing Double – 1-1-1 Doubling Rule Explained

Continuing with Suffix Rules, the first one I will go in depth on is the 1-1-1 Doubling Rule. The grade level this rule corresponds with is 2nd through 12th.

Before teaching this rule, one should know:

  1. What a suffix is
  2. That some suffixes begin with vowels and some with consonants
  3. The difference between one and two syllable words.

The 1-1-1 Doubling Rule says: 1 syllable words ending in 1 consonant after 1 vowel double the final consonant before a vowel suffix.

Why do we double? Because doubling keeps the vowel short.

For this rule, worksheets are great, but it is better if you have plenty of interaction to get this rule across. For example, if you are with a child (or children), write the word and the suffix and ask, did you double? Is the word one syllable? Does it end in 1 Consonant? Is there a vowel before the consonant? Is there only 1 vowel (versus a vowel team which changes things)?

Example: step + ing = stepping

Example of not doubling: pump + ing = pumping   Why? Consonant blend at the end of pump keeps us from doubling.

For dictation, be sure to give non-sense words as well as real words.

Below is a sheet explaining the rule and a worksheet. You should also do dictation using nonsense words.

Examples of nonsense words to use for dictation:

Bleg + er (blegger)

Cretch + ing (cretching)

Prag + ness (pragness)

Thronk + ful (thronkful)

Sprug + er (sprugger)


1-1-1 Rule cloud sheet

1-1-1 Rule cloud sheet

1-1-1 doubling rule worksheet

1-1-1 doubling rule worksheet

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Illustrations of Suffix Rules, An Overview

Continuing with Suffixes, today I will create an overview of suffix rules. The three suffix rules are: 1-1-1 Doubling Rule, E Drop Rule and the Y-Changing Rule. I will do an overview today, but go in depth in my next posts.

1-1-1 Doubling rule is: 1 syllable words ending in 1 consonant after 1 vowel, you double the final consonant before a vowel suffix.

Why double? Because doubling the consonant after the vowel keeps the vowel short.

1 1 1 doubling illustration

E Drop Rule is: Words ending in e drop the e before adding a vowel suffix.

e drop illustration

Y Changing Rule is: Words ending in y change the y to i if there is a consonant before the y

y changing rule

This is the overview of suffix rules I will be covering in the next three posts.

Also see –ed and Latin Suffixes –ci, -si, -ti, -xi


The Ending Gives It Meaning – Suffixes

I know many of you who have followed my blog probably thought I would never come back to it, but here I am. I am committed once again to writing the wonders of Orton Gillingham! My daughter was recently diagnosed as mildly dyslexic. She was in pre-K when I took this class and I had no idea she was going to get this diagnosis later (she is now in first grade). I am so glad to have the tools and knowledge that OG has provided me in my daughter’s journey! Not as much because she lets me teach her, I have a tutor that sees her twice a week, but because I understand where she is in her process. So whether you are using this information for yourself, your class or for your child, know that OG is just darn good knowledge to have. Thanks for reading!

Now, about those suffixes…

The English language uses affixes to root words to give new meaning by adding prefixes to the beginning and suffixes to the end of a word. It’s efficient – we don’t have to learn new words to get a new word, we just add something to the beginning or the end of a word we already know and there we have it, a new meaning.

Suffixes, endings and stable endings are three words used when describing the ending added to a word to change its meaning. Those three terms mean the same thing and are used interchangeably. I use suffix, so that is what I will use in the post, but any of those three will do.

Suffixes can begin with vowels or consonants. This is important to teach students because when learning suffix rules later, it matters. Suffixes beginning with a vowel are called “vowel suffixes” and suffixes beginning with consonants are called “consonant suffixes.”

The reason to teach suffixes and their meanings is twofold. One, by teaching what they are and what they mean, you increase the student’s vocabulary skills dramatically. Two, when a student can decode a word by immediately seeing the suffixes and dividing the word out, suddenly, a word that was very long and scary is much easier to manage.

For example, Institutional   becomes   institu tion al

In order to prepare students for suffix addition rules that are coming their way, like the E-drop rule and Y-change rule, you should present the most common suffixes.

They are: -ed, -en, -er, -est, -ful, -ing, -ish, -less, -ly, -ness, -y.

Students need to know that suffixes come at the end of words to sometimes add new meaning and/or to put a base word into a particular part of speech. For example, -ed is used as a past tense ending; -er is a noun ending, as in teacher, or to make a comparative degree of an adjective as in smaller.

Other tidbits:

  • Teach/learn simple endings first. –er, -ing, -ness
  • Some endings only go on words which are a certain part of speech. For example, -ous (outrageous) only goes on words used as adjectives. –ist (pianist) words are always nouns and refer to people.
  • You cannot hear the spelling of some suffixes because the schwa is present. Examples, -ance, -ence, -able, -ible, -ant, -ent.
  • Some endings are tricky for even the best spellers. For example, -or (actor) vs. –er (grammar)

Here are common suffixes and example words.

Vowel Suffixes

-ed (yelled)

-ing (falling)

– y (rainy)

– er (lower)

-en (sweeten)

-est (slowest)

-ist (lobbyist)

-ish (babyish)

-able (payable)

-age (package)

Consonant Suffixes

-ful (thankful)

-ly (bravely)

-less (nameless)

-ness (fitness)

-ment (statement)

Sources: Schenck school class and the book How to Teach Spelling Laura Toby Rudginsky and Elizabeth C. Haskell

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Phonemic Awareness: Speaking of Individuality

What’s the importance of phonemic awareness and what exactly does that mean? First, phonics and phonemic awareness is not the same thing. Phonics is the understanding of the relationship of letters and sounds in WRITTEN language. Phonemic awareness is understanding the sounds of language working together in SPOKEN language to make words.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, Putting Reading First, Kindergarten Through Grade 3, “If children are to benefit from phonics instruction, they need phonemic awareness.” The document goes on to say, “The reasons are obvious: children who cannot hear and work with the phonemes of spoken words will have a difficult time learning how to relate these phonemes to graphemes when they see them in written words.”

What that says to me, is that children need to be able to hear language as much as see language and even “feel” language by tapping the letters on one hand while saying the sounds, tracing in the air, on paper, in sand, underlining the word while they repeat it, and any other creative way teachers have come up with to implement the kinetic part of OG.

Phonemic awareness is a subcategory of phonological awareness, they are not interchangeable. Phonological awareness is broad, encompassing many different parts of spoken language. Phonemic awareness is narrow, boiled down to just identifying and manipulating individual sounds in words.

So, how do we put into use phonemic awareness?

Phonemic awareness is divided into categories to be taught.

Phoneme isolation

Recognition of individual sounds in a word.

Teacher says, “What is the first sound in van?”

Children: “The first sound in van is /v/.”

Phoneme identity

Recognition of the same sounds in different words.

Teacher says, “What sound is the same in fix, fall and fun?”

Children: “The first sound, /f/, is the same.”

Phoneme categorization

Recognition of a word in a set of three or four words that has the “odd” sound.

Teacher: “Which word does not belong? Bud, bun, rug.”

Children: “Rug does not belong. It does not begin with /b/.”

Phoneme Blending

Students listen to a sequence of separately spoken phonemes, and then combine the phonemes to form a word. Then they write and read the word.

Teacher: “What word is /b/ /i/ /g/?”

Children: “/b/ /i/ /g/ is big.”

Teacher: “Now let’s write the sounds in big. /b/ write b, /i/ write I, /g/ write g.”

Teacher: (Writes big on the board.). “Now we are going to read the word big.”

Phoneme segmentation

Break a word into separate sounds, saying each sound and tapping out or counting it. Then write and read the word.

Teacher: “How many sounds are in grab?”

Children: “/g/ /r/ /a/ /b/. Four sounds.”

Teacher: “Now let’s write the sounds in grab: /g/, write g, /r/, write r, /a/, write a, /b/ write b.

Teacher: (Writes grab on the board.) “Now we are going to read the word grab.”

Phoneme deletion

Recognize the word that remains when a phoneme is removed from another word.

Teacher: “What is smile without the /s/?

Children: “Smile without the /s/ is mile.”

Phoneme addition

Make a new word by adding a phoneme to an existing word.

Teacher: “What word do you have if you add /s/ to the beginning of park?”

Children: “Spark.”

Phoneme substitution

Substitute one phoneme for another to make a new word.

Teacher: “The word is bug. Change /g/ to /n/. What’s the new word?”

Children: “Bun.”


Keep in mind when taking in this information, where I said Phonemic Awareness is just one, narrow portion of Phonetic Awareness. The skills I am presenting here are important for the identifying and manipulating the individual sounds of words, not the whole kit and caboodle. But, isolating phonemic awareness is important in the overall of see, hear, feel approach. Once students get it that these little letters make up words then moving on to bigger words is much easier.

According to the Institute for Literacy, phonemic awareness is best taught in small groups, as opposed to large groups or individually, because students can benefit from listening to the exchange between peers and the instructor.

Let me know if you have questions or if you have anything to add to what I said here. Are you a teacher who has any creative ways that you work with kids on Phonemic Awareness?


Here is a list of terms for this post. It is straight from my source listed below.

phonemic awareness terms




The information in this post was taken from: National Institute for Literacy, Put Reading First, Kindergarten Through Grade 3, Third Edition. This was a publication I received in the Orton Gillingham course I took. I also have taken information from my notes from a class discussion.


Go to the End and Count Back Three, if You See Consonant + LE

So, I have another blog called Moms Soul Café, which I posted to yesterday. Today, I was going through my past posts and noticed that I accidentally posted the following OG information to my Mom’s Soul Café blog. I imagine my audience was a tad confused about the relevance of Consonant + LE in that genre! But hopefully they learned a little something.

The syllable pattern in REVLOC is is a departure from the Vowel-Consontant-Vowel patterns. This one is Consonant+LE. It is the L in REVLOC.

If you have not read the post on REVLOC, please read it and come back.

When you have a word with a Consonant+LE at the end, count back three letters, then divide the word. Consontant + LE is ALWAYS at the end of the word.

The C+LE endings are:

  • ble
  • dle
  • fle
  • gle
  • kle
  • tle
  • zle
  • ple

They are pronounced as:

  • ble = b’l (as in bubble)
  • dle = d’l (as in idle)
  • fle = f’l (as in ruffle)
  • gle = g’l (as in giggle)
  • kle = k’l (as in pickle)
  • tle = t’l (as in turtle)
  • zle = z’l (as in sizzle)
  • ple = p’l (as in people)

Within this syllable division type there are different kinds of words.

One, when the middle consonant is doubled.

For example: Cuddle, sniffle

Or, when there is a consonant you can hear.

For example: shingle, tangle, purple

Or, when there is a ck inside the word.

For example: crackle, fickle, freckle, pickle

In this case, when dividing the word, you DO break up the CK.

So, to actually divide a word, it would look like this:

  • Cuddle (Oh! I see a C+LE!) I go to the end, count back three, and divide

Cud (closed syllable or C)      dle (Cons. + LE or L)

  • Purple (I see C+LE at the end!) go to the end, count back three, and divide

Pur (r-controlled or R)             ple (Cons. +LE or L)

  • Crackle (I see C+LE at the end! But oh no, there’s CK and I have been told to leave blends and digraphs together. RULE: In cons. + LE you are allowed to break up the CK)

Crac (Closed or C)                 kle (Cons. +LE or L)

Here is a worksheet to try. It asks that the student write the sound of each Consonant + LE syllable just like the list I wrote above.

cons + le worksheet


Breaking the Rules: Wild Old Words

I’ve written in the past about closed syllables and how if a syllable is “closed in” by consonants, then it will be a “closed syllable” and the vowel will be short. However, there are groups of words called Wild-Old Words that are “fossil” words left from Anglo Saxon times that do not follow the rules. These words are common but irregular.

A student can learn that some common words ending in ld, st, nd, and lt have a single vowel with a long vowel sound.


  • comb
  • roll, troll, stroll
  • mold, told, sold, scold, old, bold, cold, fold, gold
  • bolt, colt, dolt, jolt, Holt, molt, volt
  • bind, find, mind, wind, blind, grind, hind, kind, rind
  • both, don’t, won’t, host, most, post, ghost
  • pint, mild, wild, child, blinds
  • minded, kindly, kindness, unkind, behind, blindfold, remind

Sentences for dictation and reading:

  • This wild child is a troll.
  • Jane will rope the colt to a post.
  • It is cold in summer also?
  • I combed the old, kind dog with a small comb.
  • I wish I had a pint of gold.
  • Hold the wild colt.




Source: Unlocking the Power of Print, Dorthothy Blosser Whitehead


Spelling Is Easier with Generalization Rules: OI/OY, OU/OW, AU/AW

In keeping with the past two posts on spelling consonant sounds and spelling vowel sounds, I am going to cover oi/oy, ou/ow, au/aw generalizations; when to use each to make their sounds. I mentioned these generalizations in my last post in a “Miscellaneous” category. Here I am going more in depth on when to use each letter combination.

It can look confusing at first glance to read what I am writing below. If you are not familiar, take your time looking at the rules. Then do the worksheets (or hand give them to a student). On all of these combinations, the dictation is as important as the worksheet. Knowing which combination to use to make the sound is great, but you also want to know how to spell the whole word.

OI/OY Generalization

Use oi at the beginning or in the middle of a word for the “oi” sound.

Use oy at the end of a word for the “oi” sound.

OI – beginning or middle of a word

Practice for reading: adenoids, anoint, boisterous, celluloid, coinage, devoid, embroider, exploit, thyroid, loiter, oilcloth, turmoil, embroil

Practice for spelling: avoid, boil, choice, coil, hoist, join, joint, moist, moisture, noise, noisy, oil, ointment, point, poison, rejoice, soil, spoil, toil, void, broil, coin, groin, loin, toilet, goiter, voice, foist, poise, foil

OY – at the end of a word

Practice for reading: alloy, cloy, corduroy, coy, deploy, Savoy, Troy, viceroy

Practice for spelling: annoy, boy, decoy, employ, enjoy, joy, soy, toy

Common Exceptions in a sentence for remembering: the Loyal Royal Oyster took a Voyage

Other, less common, examples: arroyo (a big ditch in the desert), boycott, Boyd, clairvoyant, flamboyant, gargoyle, Lloyd

Here are worksheets for practicing the “oi” sound. Be sure to not only do the fill in the blanks. Dictation is important for learning to spell the whole word.

oi oy dict oi oy

OU/OW Generalization

Use ou at the beginning or in the middle of a word for the “ou” sound.

Use ow at the end of a word for the “ou” sound.

If a single l, n, el, or er follows the “ou” sound at the end of a word, use ow.

See examples below in spelling practice.

OU – at the beginning or the middle of the word

Reading practice: blouse, crouch, pounce, shroud, slouch, sprout, stout, trousers

Spelling practice: around, bounce, count, flour, found, ground, house, loud, mouse, mouth, ounce, out, scout, shout, sound, sour

Exception: foul (bad)

OW – at the end of a word for the sound

Reading & Spelling practice: allow, brow, cow, how, now, plow
Spelling practice

N: brown, clown, down, drown, frown, gown, town
L: fowl (bird), howl, growl, prowl, scowl
EL: towel, trowel, vowel
ER: flower (plant), tower

Exceptions: coward, crowd, chowder, powder

Here is a sentence to help remember the exceptions to this spelling rule:
The coward put foul powder in the crowd’s chowder.

Here is a worksheet on OU/OW Generalization. Be sure to also do the dictation sheet so that the entire word is learned rather than just what to insert.

ou ow  ou ow dict

AU/AW Generalization

Use au at the beginning or in the middle of a word for the “ô” sound.
Use aw at the end of a word for the “ô” sound.
If a single l, n, or k follows the “ô” sound at the end of the word, use aw.

AUat the beginning or the middle of a word for the sound

Reading practice: audition, cauliflower, caustic, centaur, daub, daunt, fauna, fraudulent, laudatory, laureate, laurel, mausoleum, nautical, pauper, saunter, tarpaulin, taut

Spell practice: auction, August, applaud, author, auto, because, cause, faucet, fault, gaudy, gaunt, haunch, haunted, jaunt, launch, laundry, pause, sauce, saucer, sausage, vault

Exceptions: haul, Paul

AW – at the end of the word for the sound

Reading practice: coleslaw, craw, macaw, pawpaw, prawn, seesaw, taw

Spelling practice: claw, draw, flaw, draw, jaw, law, outlaw, paw, raw, saw, squaw, straw, thaw

L: awl, bawl (cry), brawl, crawl, scrawl, shawl
K: hawk, squawk
N: dawn, drawn, fawn, lawn, pawn, spawn, yawn

Exceptions: lawyer, awe, awesome, awful, awkward, awning

Here is a worksheet and a dictation page on the usage of AU/AW. Be sure to do the dictation as well as the worksheet.

au awau aw dict


Spelling Vowel Sounds: What Music They Make

In my last post I talked about how to spell consonants. This week, we will cover how to spell vowels.

It is important to note that when I say “spell” consonants and vowels I am talking about how letters can make more than one sound. For example, a makes a long and short sound, as in make and tack. But to spell the letter a, we can use many combinations to make the long a sound. For example, the long a sound can be spelled using the letters ai, as in rain, train, brain.

The difference that comes out of this is, if someone asks, “What does the letter i say?” You would say, ĭ as in igloo, or ī as in pike. If someone asks, “How do you spell i?” You would say, “With the letters I and y, as in pick or gym.

Here are the vowel sounds and how to spell them.

Long Vowel  Sounds

ā – a, a-e (make), ai (rain), ea (steak), ei (feign), eigh (freight), ay (hay), ey (they)

ē – e, e-e (Pete), ea (eagle), ee (bee), ei (ceiling), ie(thief), ey (monkey), y (candy)

ī – i (hi), i_e (pike), y (cry), y_e (type), igh (light), ie (pie)

ō – o (po), o_e (pole), oa (boat), oe (toe), ow (snow)

Long U makes two sounds – yoo and oo

yoo – u, u_e (cute),ew (few), ue (rescue), eu (Europe) – Tip: for long u, deciding if the word is yoo or oo,  if a word begins with c, f, or m it will be yoo rather than oo sound – examples: cube, few, mew, fuel, muse, music.

oo – u, u_e (dune), ew (grew), ue (soup), oo (food), ou (soup), ui (fruit)

Short Vowel Sounds

ă – a (apple)

ĕ – e (med), ea (bread)

ĭ – i (igloo), y (gym)

ŏ – (odd)

ŭ – u (mud), o (oven, love, come, brother ), ou (touch, young, double, tough)

oo – oo (blood), u (tulip)

Misc. Sounds

oi – oi (foil), oy (oyster)

ou – ou (noun), ow (now)

ô – a (all), au (auto), aw (saw)

ә (schwa)  – a (above), e (legend), I (unicorn) o (cotton), u (fortune), y (syringe)

Here is an exercise on how to use this spelling vowel sounds concept.

spelling vowels

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