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How To Use the Jaglo and Emerson Learn to Read Site

Learn to read!  Go through the 10 steps to learn to read or get better at reading!

Check what your learner needs to learn and practice

Placement Checks

  • Use the Playing With Sounds (Phonemic Awareness P.A.) Check to quickly check where your learner might need practice.
  • Use the Beginning Sight Words Check to make sure your learner either knows or learns all these words easily and automatically.
  • Use the Big Sounds Pack Check to see which sounds your learner already knows and go through the rest of the sounds as you go through the 10 Steps. These do not need to be learned in any specific order.
  • We recommend beginning readers start with Step 1. If you have a more advanced reader, use the Phonics Quick Check to indicate where in the steps you may want to start with your learner.

Work on Sight Words, Big Sounds Pack and Playing With Sounds a little each day

Sight Words and Big Sounds Pack

Playing with Sounds: Hearing and Working with Individual Sounds is the Foundation of Reading and Writing.

This is also called Phonemic Awareness, abbreviated as P.A.

  • All learners should practice Playing With Sounds, (hearing and working with individual sounds). We need to be able to hear each sound in a word, blend sounds together to make a word, pull the sounds apart, and change sounds in words quickly and easily in order to read and write. This is a critical skill and is often a root cause of reading difficulty.
  • We recommend looking at the Big Playing With Sounds P.A. Practice Packet which includes many exercises at multiple levels of challenge that should be mastered by the end of grade 2.
  • Use the Playing With Sounds (Phonemic Awareness) Check to quickly check where your learner might need practice.

Work on the 10 Steps in order

The 10 Steps

  • Begin with Step 1 and move quickly until your learner does not read the words automatically.
  • Use our Phonics Quick Check to see which steps have already been mastered.
  • Go through the Steps in the order presented.
  • Watch the video to introduce and teach each skill.
  • Begin with a Bundle and/or pick and choose from the many practice options (lists, games, activities, little books) to practice each skill.

Include Spelling Every Time.

Reading and spelling go hand in hand. Spend time spelling the words, phrases and sentences the learner is working on. See the Spelling section for more information. If the learner can read and spell the mixed skill lists and small books quickly and smoothly they are ready to move on!

For Questions about Unique Letter Combinations and Situations

  • Check the Unique Letter Combinations and Situations page (under the “Teach Along The Way” section, in the left sidebar) for help with questions that come up as learners notice unknown letter combinations (“What is the deal with -tch in catch?”) and ask questions like “why is there an “e” at the end of nerve?

Check out the Strategies for Teaching and Learning page

Strategies for Teaching and Learning

  • The Strategies for Teaching and Learning page includes many strategies including 95% Accuracy:
    • We learn quickest (and learning is more permanent) when we are 90-95% correct, and only 5-10% of what we are doing is new. Work on automaticity and speed with known skills while introducing new ones. A huge benefit to this site are the opportunities to practice target skills to automaticity through controlled activities where the learner can be 90-95% correct, master the skill quickly, and move on to the next. Click here for other effective study practices backed by scientific evidence.

Outline of the Steps

Teaching icon Teach Teaching icon 2

This is where the skills for each step are taught and explained.


Here you will find definitions for key words and abbreviations.

Teaching Videos and Written Stories

Teaching Videos
Use these first to introduce the skill through story, visuals and practice! The purpose of each story is to provide a visual, emotional and sometimes physical hook to help remember the skill. These were first designed to teach teachers to introduce the skills themselves, but they also work well for the learner to watch directly.

Written Stories
The written versions of the stories in the teaching videos are included so teachers and parents can adapt and tell the stories themselves. While the phonic rule part of the story needs to stay, the content around that can be altered to appeal to, and be relevant to, the interests and world of the specific learner(s). For example when introducing the vowels, the name of the creature, AE, needs to stay, as does the ending “AE, I O U a …!” AE responding with “Y?” also needs to stay. All the other pieces, the descriptions, circumstances, what is owed, all can change to be most memorable and fun for the specific audience.
*If you make up a great alternate story for a skill we would love to see it! We would love to add alternate story versions section to this site!

Posters/Visuals Poster with short vowels

These include posters, cover sheets that summarize the syllable types, and other visuals designed to help memory. Put one or more up in a place the learner often occupies. (With my own daughters I put some up in the kitchen so we could do a little practice during mealtimes.) This Six Syllable Cheat Sheet visual will help keep the syllable types in mind and organized as you go.

PowerPoints and Google Slides PowerPoints for teaching short vowel words CVC Google Slides Icon

For the formatting of PowerPoints to be correct, click FILE, then DOWNLOAD. Download in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Here you will find the PowerPoints used in the videos, as well as additional PowerPoints and Google Slides to practice the skills.

Find more specific directions on the Directions page.

Teach Along the Way Teach along the way with short vowels

Highlighted in green, this section explains and links to some important extra skills that go along with the main skill of the step. There are additional letter combinations and mini skills we need to learn along with the syllables.

Detour! Detour

Some steps have a detour, a link to another page with materials for a smaller skill to teach during the step.

Tips Tips

Highlighted in blue, here you will find more information about the skill being worked on and tips for teaching the skill. Most of the steps also have the “Map Sounds To Letters” below the blue box as this is important for all the steps! (See “Map Sounds to Letters” below.)

Map Sounds to Letters

First map the sounds in the word to the letter(s) representing the sounds, even if it is not a letter combination that has been taught yet. Only an unusual sound/letter combination needs to be remembered “by heart.” Mapping the sounds to the letters is how we remember what words look like. See example below:

Map Sounds To Letters examples

Be sure to reinforce what you know and are learning about words, for example:
Schwa Sound: Any vowel might say /ŭ/. Point out that this happens in many common words like: the, of, was, some, from…

Key and Directions for Materials Key

This block is always the same:

Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-1K-1 Beginning
Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-21-2 Growing
Pink Plus: intervention, challengeIntervention/Challenge

Bundle: Multiple types of materials (games, activities, stories…) bundled together.
Pack: Multiple pieces of the same type of material, for example a pack of books.

Directions for everything else:

More on the Directions Page

Practice Reading Practice Practice Reading

Here you will find materials to be used for practicing in a variety of ways. Practice until the stories, mixed lists, games and other activities feel quick, comfortable and fluent and then move to the next step!

Beginning Reader Word Family BUNDLES and PACKS! Bundle


Bundles are multiple types of materials (games, activities, stories…) bundled together.


Packs are of multiple pieces of the same type of material, for example a pack of books.

We recommend starting with the Bundles, and using the Packs of interest. Below the Bundles and Packs are additional individual materials listed by type, including types of materials not found in the Bundles such as a Spelling Section and often a Syllable Sort section. Many of these materials are more challenging than the materials in the Bundles and Packs.

Word and Phrase Lists Lists icon

It is important for learners to become automatic with the skills they are learning. Word chunk (part of a word), word, phrase and sentence lists for a specific skill are a great way to help become automatic with a skill. See Highlighting Word Lists and Timing Students for further ideas on how to use lists.

Flashcards Flashcard icon

There are two different uses for flashcards:
Flashcards for practicing skills is a great way to practice while changing word order, playing games, building speed, or doing a quick practice. One great strategy to help students move from sounding out letter by letter to reading words is the Flashing Words Strategy.
Flashcards for memorizing uses a very specific strategy, and for our purposes is used for the Big Sounds Pack and for Common Cheater Words. In this case you will want to keep the 90-95% accuracy strategy in mind. Most of these flashcards (15 – 20 cards) should be known words, with one or two new words. Sneak the new words just a few words back in the pack rather that at the very back so they come up more often. Learn about working on new words or sounds with flashcards here.

Fluency Pyramids Fluency Pyramid

Fluency Pyramids are a favorite for beginning readers. Readers read each line of the pyramid, which adds one word at a time. This builds fluency, works on moving repeated words into long term memory and gives the beginning reader a feeling of success.

Games Games Icon

Game Directions

Games often come with instructions, and of course you can always make up your own! I often purposefully make mistakes when playing with students and award them extra points or spaces if they are able to catch my mistake and fix it. This encourages them to listen very carefully to my answers! When playing this way I also move ahead a space if I catch their mistake. They become more careful with their answers! Instructions for many of the games are in the following links: Directions for Games with Picture Cards, Directions for Games without Picture Cards, Directions for Bang!, Directions for Bingo.

Spelling Lists icon

Spelling (Click link for more on spelling.)
1. Learners should be practicing spelling the skills each step of the way. Writing the words from the lists, games etc. that follow the patterns the learner is working with strengthens learning. Learners are using what they know about letters and sounds to create written words. This is a figuring out task, not a memorization one. We want learners to learn spelling. Physically writing the letters, sounds and words is important to build motor memory. Learners often feel less stress about their writing when using impermanent things like whiteboards, but writing on anything works as long as the learner is creating words.

2. There is also a smaller place for memorizing how to spell common words they want to write often. A word or two can be chosen by the learner that they want to be consistent with (like the word said or they). Look at the word and pay attention to the sounds that are spelled as expected, and any sounds that are not spelled as expected. Only the sound(s) that is not spelled as expected needs to be memorized. Then practice this word or two by making a mental image of it, and writing it at different times throughout each day for many days until it is automatic.

Having learners spell with word chains where the teacher says “change one sound in (chop) to spell (chip), now change one sound in (chip) to spell (sip)” is a powerful way to draw student’s attention to individual sounds in the words!

For all spelling practice Mapping Sounds to Letters:

First map the sounds in the word to the letter(s) representing the sounds, even if it is not a letter combination that has been taught yet. Only an unusual sound/letter combination needs to be remembered “by heart.” Mapping the sounds to the letters is how we remember what words look like. See example below:

Map Sounds To Letters examples

Be sure to reinforce what you know and are learning about words:
Schwa Sound: Any vowel might say /ŭ/ . Point out this happens in many common words like: the, of, was, some, from…

Bonus information: Eventually learners will to move into studying the meanings and spellings of morphemes, (the smallest meaningful units of language) and how they are put together to make words. In the beginning we are teaching students to spell based on the most common way(s) to spell the sounds they hear. However, English spelling is based on the meanings of the morphemes and etymology (the history of words). For example the word ‘sign’ comes from the Latin word signum, which meant “mark, sign.” We know to spell sign with a ‘gn’ since it is related to signal, signify, and even designate. When the morpheme ‘sign’ is not the last syllable, the g is pronounced.

Syllable Sorts Syllable Sort Icon

Syllable Sort Directions
Syllable Sort Headings
Breaking up words strategy page

Once we are working on multiple syllable words, it is helpful to spend a some time practicing breaking words into syllables.

Small Books Small Books icon

Small Book: 8 page assembly directions, 4 page folding directions, OR use horizontal format for reading on the screen in distance learning.

These are fun, silly little stories focusing on the skill being worked on. A great strategy with these is for the learner to re-read the small book again and again until they can read it with over-the-top expression like a teacher reading to the class. *Rereading text is the most effective way to build fluency.
*Challenge: Can the learner write their own silly story using mostly words with the skill/pattern being learned?

Full Page Stories with Lists Full Page Stories with Lists

See Highlighting Word Lists

Full Page Stories with Lists
Practice the list on the side, then read the silly story that contains words from that list. There are video examples of Chris Jaglo doing this with distance learning on the Step 1: Short Vowels and Step 2: 4h Brothers and Blends pages.


  1. Awonke Awonke

    You saved our homeschooling dream. Thank you from Africa

    • I am so glad this is helpful! Thank you for letting me know!

  2. Heather Heather

    I feel like I hit the jackpot! What an amazing resource! Thanks for sharing your gems!

    • admin admin

      So glad this is helpful!

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