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When I was a kid I remember distinctly this lesson on how to pronounce a word. If there is only one consonant between two vowels like in the word "make" then the e jumps over the k and the a yells its name "eh" instead of its sound "ah". For a word like "little" there are a bunch of consonants there so the e can't jump and make the i say "I".

I know about "whole word" vs "phonics" is an ongoing debate but is the jumping letter concept a phonics thing? Or did I just have a creative teacher?

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I, for one, have never heard of "jumping letters". However, your teacher's explanation was otherwise valid and important. – JSBձոգչ Mar 1 '11 at 23:56
Haha that is pretty sweet. Never heard of it, but I see it works! – Cerberus Mar 2 '11 at 0:16
My teacher used a very similar concept :) I think it's a great way to teach pronunciation :) – Kyle Mar 2 '11 at 7:33
@JSBangs: in Russia, teachers use the terms "open syllable" and "closed syllable", but the basic idea is the same. – RegDwigнt Mar 2 '11 at 9:46
@Cerberus “I see it works” – really? How about the word “whole” (which, after all, appears in this very question). (EDIT: I take that back … “whole” is kind of pronounced /ho-el/ …). – Konrad Rudolph Mar 2 '11 at 10:57
up vote 6 down vote accepted

When I was just learning to read, my teacher had a sock puppet named Mr. Easy, whose face was a lower-case e with a dot in the enclosure to form his "eye". Mr. Easy's job was to help the vowels say their name. He would tack himself on to mat and call out to the vowel: "Tell me your name!" And we, being 5 or 6 and eager to help the vowel, would call out "A. Your name is A!" And Mr. Easy would then turn to us and ask us what word the a was trying to make. And we would shout the answer, laughing and having a great time. And thus mat became mate, them would become theme, bit would become bite, and to this day I remember Mr. Easy.

This is not intended as a glowing little remembrance, but to point out that whatever device a teacher uses to bring an idea to life is a good idea. Kids like games, they like fun, they like cartoonish characters, and they actually love solving problems. Whether the teacher uses a sock puppet or a jumping game, the important thing is that good teaching involves engaging children in a way that makes a lesson fun and memorable.

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Think we had a song called "magic e". I suppose these days, they might not pick that... – Neil Coffey Mar 2 '11 at 11:49
Wow! That's way more impressive than my jumping letters. And good to know it was a creative teacher that made an impact. – tooshel Mar 3 '11 at 16:36

I am a tutor, and have great success in using a game, Ring Around the Phonics, to teach phonics and reading. I think getting into the rules of phonics (except for e at the end of a word) is a bit much until they are reading well.

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