Working and Playing with Words
Remember how we were taught to decipher new words we encountered when reading? I can still hear my teachers saying, “Just sound it out!”
Fortunately, we are now seeing dramatic and exciting changes in the teaching of spelling and word recognition. The field of “word study” provides students an opportunity to manipulate words (and parts of words) in meaningful and enjoyable activities and games. Reading ability can develop dramatically as word study lessons develop experience with:
- Letters and their corresponding sounds.
- Components of words, such as roots, prefixes, and suffixe
- Patterns of how words are spelled, such as word families.
- How parts of words often will give hints to the meaning of a word, as well as its spelling or pronunciation.
Word study activities call for active problem solving. Students are encouraged to look for spelling patterns, form hypotheses, predict outcomes, and test them. These activities require students to continually ask themselves, “What do I know about this new word, and how is it similar to words that I already know?”
My students love working with words, and frequently ask for more “word games.” Fortunately, the Internet is a wonderful source of excellent activities that build skills in spelling, vocabulary, and word recognition.
See our Word Study Activities that will help your students have fun as they learn to read, write, and spell.
See our Articles on High-Frequency Sight Words
High-Frequency Sight Words: The Fry List, Instant Words, Dolch Words, and Word Wall Words
Practice with Abstract Sight Words
More on Practice with Sight Words
Betsy B. Lee on Teaching Dolch Words
Dolch’s List of Basic Sight Words
Fry’s 300 Instant Sight Words
See our Articles on Word Families
Excellent Word Study References
I use and recommend all of these resources:
Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction
Donald R. Bear (Author), Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, Francine Johnston
Word Matters: Teaching Phonics and Spelling in the Reading/Writing Classroom
Gay Su Pinnell, Irene C. Fountas, Mary Ellen Giacobbe, Arene C. Fountas
Phonics They Use: Words for Reading and Writing and
Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use
Patricia M. Cunningham
For the Earliest and Most Challenged Readers
Patricia M. Cunningham and Dorothy P. Hall designed these popular activities that appeal to students of all ages. Your earliest and most challenged readers, however, may find them too difficult.
For those students, I recommend:
Easy Lessons for Teaching Word Families (Grades K-2) by Judy Lynch.
Month-By-Month Reading and Writing for Kindergarten
Month-By-Month Phonics for Upper Grades by Dorothy Hall and Patricia Cunningham
Cunningham, P. (2004). Phonics they use: Words for reading and writing. New York: Longman.