Well, we finally did it! We found a place that would print our Alphabet Pattern Blocks cards and Sounds Fun cards for us at a reasonable price! We also made a Sounds Fun poster that is a wonderful thing to have, because it has all of the cards blown up in one easy to handle or hold poster. This is great news for everyone who has been put off by the idea of having to download and print your own Alphabet Pattern Blocks cards and Sounds Fun cards. The cards turned out beautifully! They are on a nice, glossy, medium weight cardstock that look and feel pretty sturdy and may not even need to be laminated!
As far as the Sounds Fun cards are concerned, my class this year made incredible progress by using these cards! I introduced the /sh/, /th/, and /ch/ as they became necessary in the fall. Then, in January, I introduced the rest of the cards. I was a little nervous about introducing the cards, because I always wonder if it is going to confuse them with their regular letter sounds. But so far, it hasn’t, and this is the second year that I have used the cards! The kids absolutely loved doing the actions in the cards, and seemed to remember the characters and their sounds almost immediately. The day after I introduced them, as the children entered in the morning, they noticed that I had placed a set of Sounds Fun cards on the wall. The first thing I heard out their mouths was, /ow!/, /ar!/, /er!/, /oo!/, etc. In fact, that whole week, there seemed to be barely a moment when someone was NOT muttering one of these sounds to themselves! It just about drove me bonkers! This was an incredibly verbal class that I had, and then loved to talk (and apparently, also make all kinds of random sounds!) Thankfully, they got used having the cards on the wall, and eventually were able to concentrate on my lessons again without continually muttering the sounds to themselves.
I probably drilled the class on the Sounds Fun cards three times a week in January, and maybe a handful of times in February. After that, we just referred to the cards on the wall and the poster when we needed a sound. Everybody seemed to know most of the sounds, and by the end of the year, many of the children were able to make a sound to themselves and think of a possible spelling without looking at the cards at all. Lots of children were finding these letter combinations in the books that they were reading, too, and they were quite excited to find them there! It was like somebody showed them a secret code. :)