Last year, my district adopted Houghton Mifflin’s Wonders program for TK. There are many things that I like about the program, and some things that I plan on changing this year.
The biggest change I plan on making this year is the order in which the letters and site words are introduced. After four weeks of instruction in the first unit, the Wonders program introduces Aa, Mm, Ss, then Pp in the second unit. They also introduce the sight words I & see (first unit), then like, we, & to (second unit).
After trying it the “Wonders Way” last year, I am going to go back to introducing letters in the order I used when I taught Kinder and TK before I had Wonders (one letter per week). I feel that introducing letters with so many different types of strokes (straight, diagonal, curved) before they have really masetered holding a pencil is much more difficult than teaching easy letters first, then adding trickier ones when they have had more practice under their belts. I also try to teach Cc before I teach letters that have a “c” in them (i.e. a, d, g, etc.) and letters that build upon another letter in sequence (example: P before R, V before W, n before m and h).
After two weeks of focusing on pencil grip, line writing, and name practice, the first letter I introduce is Ll, because it is the easiest to write. The following week, I teach Tt, then Ii the third week. I also introduce the sight word “I” the third week. Because I introduce the letters and site words in a different order than Wonders, I really have to be choosy about the little readers/books that I have the kids read. At the beginning of the school year, I don’t feel like they are really ready to begin reading. As a former Reading Recovery teacher, I don’t feel that the little books provided by Wonders are as good as they could be. I wish they had bigger spaces between the words, more controlled vocabulary in the print, and better pictures support instead of using a rebus. I also wish that the site words taught in each unit were systematically and strategically placed in later books (i.e. after the students have learned “I”, “see”, “like”, “we”, and “to” those words could could be found in later books also). Reading a book about a city doesn’t really make sense to a 5yo who is learning that Ss says /s/. It’s difficult to teaching an early reading strategy (check the first letter of the word and make the sound) when the Cc in city should say /k/.