Hey! Not all words can be decoded!
That’s right, they can’t. But so many can, and with early reading and spelling we concentrate on the ones that can.
However, because we want to get children reading simple texts and writing simple sentences quickly we teach those irregular, high frequency words which are tricky and irregular but so essential for progression.
We call these tricky words, ‘camera words’ because children must learn them as though they were taking a photo of the word with their ‘mind’s eye’. They are encouraged to memorise the part of the word which is tricky.
It is important to remember that very few words need to be learned by sight and that eventually they will be decodable.
Camera words are a group of words in the English language that children like to use in their speech and in their writing that cannot be decoded or need advanced skills to do so. For example: was, the and friend.
Children want to read and spell these words right at the beginning of their schooling. Knowing a small bank of these tricky words helps children to begin to read and write sentences that make sense and encourage them to communicate in writing right from the start.
Camera words are taught alongside phonics teaching: lesson 5/10 teaches reading and lesson 10/10 teaches the spelling of these irregular but so essential words. Just like the phonics lessons the camera word lessons are taught in a fun and lively way – with games like Photographer, Snap and Pairs included in The Synthetic Phonics Toolkit.
The Practice Books include a camera book for each unit; so children get lots more practice at recognising and spelling these tricky but so essential words.