Have you ever heard of this — this phenomenon we call the schwa sound? Basically, all the vowels in our beloved English language can have this lazy uh sort of sound. I say “sort of” because the sound varies a bit with each vowel, while the mouth still holds the same loose-jawed position. Most commonly, we see it in two-syllable words where the unaccented vowel is the one that makes the schwa sound.
But we first introduce this sound near the beginning of our Bob Books journey, in Book 1 of Set 2.
It’s the word was. Hear the a make that uh sound? That’s the schwa sound.
Now, I don’t think we need to spell out to our students what the schwa sound is and how it works. But it is good for us as teachers to have a handle on how the language works. You can’t teach well if you don’t understand it.
Here’s a funny video on the schwa:
What I try to do is not make too big of a deal out of it, especially early on when our students are easily overwhelmed by too much newness in a single lesson.
But, as I said, you should know it’s a thing.
For introducing was, then, I use this card:
Clever, I know. The thing is that other words in which a makes the schwa sound are at a higher level than we’re ready for. Our students have already learned the hard-s sound, so they’re good in that department. They know the w sound.
So I just say, “In this word, a says uh.” And they accept it, read the word, and they’re good.
Later on, when I introduce a bunch of a-as-schwa words, such as about, I’ll simply add a whole new card.
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