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Lesson Plan

Phonic Generalizations in Chrysanthemum

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Phonic Generalizations in Chrysanthemum

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time One or more 30- to 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Rebecca L. Olness

Black Diamond, Washington


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



This lesson uses an active, hands-on activity to teach students how to determine the common and alternative sounds for specific vowel combinations. Authentic literature provides an excellent framework for teaching decoding and spelling. The words for this lesson are taken from the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Students practice the generalizations by reading nursery rhymes that include words with the same vowel pairs. Students then make words from the book in an online activity.

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Word Families in Nursery Rhymes: This comprehensive list of word families used in nursery rhymes is useful for teaching rhyme and word recognition.

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Johnston, F.P. (2001). The utility of phonic generalizations: Let's take another look at Clymer's conclusions. The Reading Teacher, 55, 132143.

  • Vowels pose the greatest difficulty for young readers (Calfee, 1998). Vowel generalizations may be needed more than consonant generalizations due to their irregularity and subjective interpretation.

  • Students need to develop flexible strategies when studying specific vowel combinations. Alternative sounds, such as the /ow/ sounds in how and grow, can be taught simultaneously. Context can usually confirm which sound works in a word.


Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644650.

  • Students pay closer attention to the phonemes that letters represent while spelling words versus reading them. By spelling words first, they transfer this careful spelling analysis over into reading.


Calfee, R. (1998) Phonics and phonemes: Learning to decode and spell in a literature based program. In L.C. Ehri, & J. Metsala (Eds.), Word recognition in beginning literacy (pp. 315340). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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