The letter Q is a tricky one. Originally the English language didn't have the letter 'Q'. The 'QU' spelling came from French via Latin during the Norman Conquest.
The letter 'Q' is often left until the end when teaching the initial code in the Foundation stage. The fact that 'C' and 'K' already represent the /k/ sound brings another layer of complexity. Teaching the three letters together would be problematic and confuse beginning readers.
This spelling pattern is best treated as a unit because few words exist in English without the 'U', and all are loan words. When teaching the 'QU' pattern/rule, we must be explicit that 'Q' represents the /k/ sound and 'U' represents the /w/ sound in most words. There are words that don't follow this pattern, but they are left for another day in Foundation.
In Australia, we have three amazing animals that can help the teaching of the 'QU' spelling. Australia has some rather unique animals that are quite different to any other in the world. They have pouches, poisonous venom and some quite wacky names.
Quoll, quenda, quokka and squid all have 'qu' in their spelling.
These words are perfect for use in Foundation because their spelling can be easily discussed, and animals are often a topic of interest among students. We always start with the word quoll as it is the easiest of the three.
I only recently found out about the quenda as our local lake has partnered with the Department of Biodiversity and released several as their numbers are sadly diminishing in the wild. The quenda is also called the Southern brown bandicoot.
Quoll, Quokka and Quenda all originated from Aboriginal language.
I love to use picture books in the clinic. A well-chosen picture book can be a fantastic literacy resource, and when you dig deep, it can showcase phonics, word study and sentence-level objectives in an engaging way.
We often start a session with a picture book. Reading to and with students is a great way for them to hear what fluent readers sound like. Picture books are also part of the resource packs that families use every week. Picture books are the 'We can read together books', and they fit perfectly with a decodable reader and sentence strips that we call 'I can read it on my own"
Here are the picture books we have used in sessions about 'QU'
I am yet to find a picture book about quendas. Although one of my students recently told me that the quenda they see near their home is called Brenda. It has such a lovely ring to it that I feel a story coming on for next term!
We love this story by local author Jolly Read.
There are sixteen QU words to spot and discuss.
Here is what we did
First, we read the story.
Next, we spotted all the QU words and made a list. We discussed the unfamiliar words — quiver and quaver.
After that, we built some words — always say the sounds as you build words. Building words is a great time to discuss words, sounds and meaning. We always add words to sentences as we pack away the tiles. We always add words to our sort it sheets.
A quick dictation of words after building is a good time to consolidate learning as I say the words and my student segments to spell. The book also has the words quiche and BBQ, which are great exceptions to discuss.
Clancy the Quokka is a fun book that my students love to have in their home practice packs.
This book uses typography brilliantly to highlight interesting words and phrases. Some words are in different fonts and some different sizes. Check out the book here.
This is the perfect, we can read it together book for parents to read with their child. Home practice packs from the clinic always include picture books plus decodable readers so the student can hear what fluent reading sounds like and can have a go at independent reading too, with a book that consolidates skills and knowledge previously taught.
Bronwyn Bancroft is an amazing Bundjalung woman and artist.
We have lots of her books. They are always vibrant and vivid. Check out her website here.
All the pictures are beautiful. We often use word books to start a word string.
They are also a wonderful vocabulary resource. We recently used this book for word building before using the words to create sentences.
Frané Lessac is a much-loved author and Illustrator in Perth.
Her books are always amazing. We have a stack. This book also has a great glossary.
We love the informative captions. Check it out here.
The pictures in the Aussie A-Z have great appeal for older students. This book was published in 2007.
Heath McKenzie has a new edition out that has just gone on my to-buy list. You can check it out here.
There are lots of other pictures to spot in this ABC book. QANTAS doesn't use the usual 'QU' spelling, so this was a great discussion about how acronyms often go against patterns.
Graphic novels are always a hit, especially with older readers. The Squidding Around series of books has proved very popular.
We used this fun text as a springboard to find out about squid in our ocean. We used the Squid Facts poster from the QU decoding and spelling pack to start our search. Check out the QU pack here.
Another fun squid series is from Kevin Sherry. The perfect books to share with your Foundation students. My students love these books. We used the story about a squid being an artist to discuss the ink produced by squid. We then used a sentence that contains the word ink and expanded it by using a conjunction die. Before writing, we used the strategy think it, say it. Next, we retold our sentence to a partner before writing. Check out both squid books here.
Sarah Allen's illustrations are delightful in this non-fiction text about Aussie animal babies. Check it out here. This is the perfect book to introduce your child or student to the quirky marsupials that live in Australia.
We used this text as a jumping off point to begin word building with the animal cards from the QU decoding and spelling pack. Check out the pack here.
After a session on 'QU', we always use the animal posters from the QU decoding and spelling pack to read fun facts about QU animals. Use the poster for themed lessons and to introduce new vocabulary and terminology.
Pair the non-fiction posters with the animal QU decodable readers in the QU decoding and spelling pack, so your students can find out real facts about the animals in the picture books.