In the City - Tip Sheet

Cover page for the book titled "In the City" showing a photograph of Toronto City, including landmarks like the CN Tower


In the City - Teacher Tip Sheet

Blue Series - Book 9 - In the City

Grapheme/Phoneme Correspondence

Tips and Activities to Try

Introduced in This Book

  • <y >/ē/ in unstressed open syllables (e.g., city)

Previously Introduced


  • all short vowel, <u >/o͝͝o/
  • <o >/ō/, <e >/ē/, <y >/ī/, <ee >/ē/, <ay >/ā/, <ai >/ā/


  • all single consonants and clusters
  • <ng >/ng/, <nk >/nk/
  • <s >/s/ and /z/, <c >/s/


  • <th >/TH/ voiced, <th >/th/ unvoiced, <ck >/k/, <ff >/f/, <zz >/z/, <ss >/s/, <ll >/l/, <sh >/sh/, <ch >/ch/, <qu >/kw/, <-tch >/ch/, <-dge >/j/, <wh >/wh/

Additional Concepts

  • <al >(<a >as short /ŏ/ before <l >)
  • <wa >(<a >as short /ŏ/ after <w >)
  • <er >/er/, <or >/or/

Key Concepts to Understand

  • <y >can be pronounced many ways so ensure that you avoid absolute language such as “<y >says /y/”
    • /ē/ in final position of multisyllabic words ( baby, city ) when syllable is unstressed
    • /y/ in initial position
    • /ī/ in final position ( try, my - usually in single syllable words or stressed syllables)
    • /ĭ/ in medial position (gym - from Greek origin)
  • Note: When producing /t/ between two vowels and the first vowel is stressed (e.g., button , which is found in this book), the tongue can quickly and briefly make contact with the ridge behind the upper front teeth, which results in <t >being pronounced differently (called a flap). Explicit teaching of this concept can support spelling.

Words for Reading and Writing

Here is a list of words that can be used for phonemic awareness activities, reading, dictation, games cards, etc.:

  • empty, city, plenty, envy, daisy, dairy, ivy, glory

Word Sort

Provide students with the following (unsorted) words:

<y >as /ē/

<y >as /ī/

empty, city, plenty, envy, daisy, dairy, ivy, glory

dry, cry, why, fry, sly, try, pry, sky, comply, reply


Ask students to sort the following words based on these two categories. Have them identify reasons the <y >may be pronounced differently in these particular words.  Prompt: “Where is the stress in these words?”


Tips and Activities to Try

Previously Introduced

  • suffix <-s >third person singular, plural, and possessive
  • suffix <-ing >as present participle
  • suffix <-ed >as past tense of a verb
  • compound words

Key Concepts to Understand

  • Note: It is important to ask students to cover the suffix with their finger in order to focus on the base when consonant clusters are in final position and have an attached suffix. When reading drifting , ask students to cover the <-ing >and read drift , ask them to release their finger and reread the entire word with the <-ing >, drifting .

High Frequency Words

Tips and Activities to Try

  • “from”, “one”

Key Concepts to Understand

  • from is an Old English word where it had a sense of “forward” which eventually led to a sense of “moving away”
  • as a function word, from is often pronounced with a schwa
  • the initial phoneme in one was originally pronounced as it is in only
  • it is beneficial to teach the spelling of one alongside only , alone and once as all of these words have a sense of “oneness” and are therefore related in spelling

Activity to Try

  • students often spell from as “form” so have them brainstorm other /fr-/ words (e.g., friend, front, frisbee ) while paying close attention to what is happening in their mouths

Comprehension Corner - In the City

Vocabulary Development

  • What does tend to mean when the author writes, “Trains tend to run at street level.” 

Making Connections

  • Have you ever been to a big city? Gone on a subway?
  • What do you like/dislike about the city?


  • Why are the streets never empty in a big city?
  • What is the difference between the trains in the story and a subway?


  • What are all the ways you can travel in this city?


Tip Sheet written by Shari Kudsia and Helen Maclean - April 2023 - © SyllaSense Inc.