phonemic awareness · word work

Word Family Pumpkins

Here are two more great Pumpkin stories: Christopher Pumpkin by Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet and Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Both these stories talk about pumpkins that don’t quite fit in, but stand out all the same.

For Words Wednesday we will work on short “a” word families. Word families is a great way to work on sounding out words, for those ready for this skill, but it is also a great way to work on rhyming words. I will explain how you can alter these activities based on what skill your child is ready for at this time.

For the first activity, have your child draw 2-4 pumpkins on the page. Make sure they are big enough to draw inside. Label each pumpkin with an “a” word family (-ab, -ack, -ad, -ag, -am, -an, -ap, -at). Brainstorm with your child words that could fit in that word family. I typically ask the children if they can come up with one on their own, if they can… go from there. If they can’t then I will give an example or two and then see if they get the concept and can move on. For children who are working on this skill strictly as a phonemic awareness skill, they will just draw pictures of the words. For children who are working on reading and writing these CVC, CVCC words, they will illustrate and write the word. Continue to do to the same for each pumpkin on your page.

The second activity is real vs nonsense words. Children love playing with nonsense words. They love to create words that just sound funny. So… why not play with nonsense words with word families. Pick a word family, see list above. Divide a sheet of paper in half, and write real words on one side and nonsense words on the other side. Now work the same concepts. Put different beginning sounds on to the rime and see if the word is real or nonsense. Using magnetic letter or other letter tiles helps with this skill as children often struggle to go through the alphabet to find more words. You can do this totally orally as a phonemic awareness skill or write it on paper as a phonics activity.

teachers pay teacher · teaching thoughts · word work

Decoding Fun

Recently, Teacher Mom Talks blogger/vogger asked me about ideas for working on short vowel words for her daughter. This got me motivated! So, today I created a kit for her, yes for her…. if you inspire me to create a kit for my store in Teachers Pay Teachers, you get a copy for free!

CVC Decoding Practice Read and Flip

So let me tell you about this kit, CVC Decoding Practice Read and Flip, and how you can use it to help your kiddo learn to decode and blend CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.

In this kit, you will find 2 sheets for each short vowel sound. The sheets can be cut into strips that show the word. Each word is broken down into the phoneme (letter sound). Then you will find the whole word and a picture cue.

  • Print out pages
  • Cut the pages into strips
  • Fold the last box (with the picture) over the word box
  • Clip with clothespin if desired
  • Have child say letter sounds while pointing to letters
  • Have child blend sounds together to form a word
  • Open flap to read the whole word and check the picture

Decoding┬áis the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven’t seen before.

Reading Rockets- Decoding and Phonics

Once children have a strong foundation of understanding letter-sound connections, they begin to see that when you put letters together they make new sounds and words. We often work on the blending of sounds together orally before ever attaching it to the written letter, this is part of phonemic awareness.

When your child is ready to start blending sound with the printed letters, have your child point to the letters individually while saying each letter sound. Then have them start saying the sounds faster (together) while sliding their finger under the word.

With this tool, I would have the child sound out the word, blend it together with the picture clipped down. Then have the child open up the flap and read the word again pointing to the word in the 4th box. The picture is there to check that he/she read the word correctly.

Work on one sheet, then add in more of the same medial vowel. Once they are comfortable, go onto the next vowel. When they are comfortable with those words, go back and review the two sets… and so on. Always going back to continue to review the previous vowel sounds.

Looking for more short vowel work? Check out my kit for Word Family Cloze sentences.

Thanks again Teacher Mom Talks! Hope we can work together again soon.

game · letter work · word work

Word Work Wednesday- backyard

Today I thought we would work on beginning sounds a bit. Here are a few ways to do this in the backyard.

Letter cards/magnetic letters

Give your child 5-7 consonants. Find items in the backyard that begin with that sound. For example:

b- bird, d-dandelion, g- grass, h-hammock, s- sunshine, t- table, w-wheelbarrow

Show your child how to make an acrostic poem about the backyard

  • Bunny
  • Apple core
  • Cardinal
  • Kites
  • Yellow flower
  • Ants
  • Rainbow
  • Dandelion

Children enjoy making acrostic poems using their name as the first letters

  • Leaf
  • Onion grass
  • Robin
  • Inchworm

Have fun playing with beginning sounds. This is a great skill to work on in the car. What letter does sign start with? Can you find something that starts with /t/? How many items can we count that start that same as car /c/?

game · letter work · STEAM · word work

word work Wednesday- lowercase letter practice

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I strongly believe in the importance of children recognizing, writing and matching the sound to lowercase letters. You can read about this here. Playing games with the alphabet makes it more enjoyable and helps your child build fluency.

Children need to be able to quickly recognize the letter by name and sound. Just as later on it is important for children to master sight words, phonemic blending and vocabulary in order to read fluently, they also need to master letter recognition and phoneme matching. So, this means keep playing games with those letters until your child is able to confidently and quickly name the letter and the sound it makes!

Here are a few fun games.

This first game can be played indoors or out…

It’s raining letters!

Create a collection of letters (magnetic letters, letter cards, flash cards, post it notes… doesn’t matter). Put all the letters in a bunch, when I play this in the classroom we use magnetic letter and I put them on a plate. Now toss all the letters up into the air and let them fall down. Now find the letters. In the classroom we do this by having each child pick a few and then we put the letters into alphabetical order. At home, you could call out a letter name and have your child go find that letter. If you have multiple children, or are playing yourself, you could have the children find as many letters as they can, but they can only keep the letter if they know the letter’s name.

Chalk Alphabet Fun

chalk letters

Want to get outside and use some chalk? This is a great medium to practice letter writing. Have your child write his/her name. Pick 3-5 letters and have him/her write the capital and lowercase letters. Play hopscotch, but put letters instead of numbers. Create an alphabet caterpillar. So many fun ways to play with letter writing and chalk

If you do not want the letters to sat on your walk… play another game. Give your child a paint brush and water, a hose or even a squirt gun. Ok now tell them a letter and have them squirt the letter until it is gone!

rock alphabet letters

Here is one more fun outside alphabet activity. Have your child recreate the letters using natural object. They could use rocks, sticks, grass, or any other items they find outside. This is part of loose parts learning. In the loose parts learning philosophy, you provide children with bits of this and that and let them create their own expression. This can be done with natural items, Lego blocks, bottle caps, pipe cleaners, or any other item that can be used in a variety of ways. Loose parts is open ended and allows your child to use their imagination to show what they know.

And just in case you are stuck inside with rain or need your child to plug in for a bit… here is a fun bubble alphabet game.

topic · word work

Word Work Wednesday- Write the room frogs

Write the room is probably one of my class’ favorite activities each year.
Who doesn’t like an excuse to get up and walk around while learning? The concept of write the room is so much more than you think. It is a great handwriting practice, vocabulary development, letter recognition, copying skills and much more. The children find it engaging and it doesn’t feel like worksheet work!

Here is how it works and how you can change it up to work for your child.

write the room wall picures

Create a list of pictures and words for your child to find around the house. For this list I used words that go with our frog/toad learning this week. This can be done with any words you want to work on. It is a great way to work on letter sounds just by making lists of words that all start with the same sound. (book, boy, balloon, blueberry, etc on a day you are working on the letter Bb). Cut the picture apart and hang them around the room, or house! Now your child needs to find the pictures and record the reading/writing.

The recording of this work can also be done in a few different ways. In the first example, the child will go around and find the pictures on their sheet and copy the word below. In the second example, the child will go around and find the words on the sheet and create the illustration. These work on two different skills. The first works on copying text and penmanship. The second works on recognizing text and illustrating to match, you will need to watch to make sure your child is not just looking at the first letter as there are multiple words that start with Ff and Ll.

write the word
illustrate the words

Another way to do this activity, give your child a sheet of blank paper and have him/her draw and write! Dividing the paper into 8 boxes will help with organization as well as keeping track of how many words are completed, but not necessary.

Please remember that at this time, we do things to keep children’s minds going. It should be fun. It shouldn’t feel like work, but something that they want to do. So make it work for you and your child.

STEAM · topic · word work

Word Work Wednesday- Read it, make it, write it Spiders

In my classroom we do a lot of work work activities at the writing table. This is a favorite of my students. Read it, make it, write it. The children are given labeled photo cards with vocabulary words matching the theme or topic we are learning about in class. They are also given a set of letter manipulatives, we switch these up to keep it interesting. Finally they are given a paper that is laminated and a dry erase marker. You do not need this sheet to do the activity, just a place for your child to read, make and write the word (sheet of paper, white board or even outside with chalk on the sidewalk)

laminated worksheet

When I set this up for my preK class I have all the vocabulary sheets in baggies with the letter manipulatives to match the spelling in the same bag. This does a few things, it keeps everything organized. It helps the children find the letters they need AND moves the process as they are not having to search for the letters in a bin or container. When I do this same process with kindergarten or first grade students I do not set up the letters ahead of time, but just provide a set of the manipulatives.

word cards for read it, make it, write it

The children choose a vocabulary card, the words need to be an obvious match to the illustration. The children place this card at the top of their paper and then “read” the word.

Next they make the word with the letter manipulatives. Some manipulatives I use are magnetic letters, unifix cubes with letters or even letters written on cut paper. The children need to match the letter and letter order to the word written on the vocabulary picture card.

Finally at the bottom of the page the child needs to write the word. Again, your child needs to follow the letters on the vocabulary sheet to write the word correctly. You could make this more challenging by having your child write a sentence instead of just copying the word.

If you do not want to print out word cards, you can have your child use the letter manipulatives in the read it section and the draw a picture in the make it section.

topic · word work · writing

Word Work Wednesday- aluminium foil

The key idea behind word work is to get children writing. The more they are exposed to words and how words work, the easier it is for them to understand the phonics that goes behind spelling. These activities are not meant to be a spelling skill, although you can use the same activities to practice spelling words. You can use it as a combination of penmanship, vocabulary and understanding words.

The activities I share on Wednesdays can be used with the words I share or any words that interest your child. If your child is really into a tv show have him/her write things from the show (I’d stay away from names as they often do not follow typical phonics, a random fact that is usually hard to explain to kiddos). If your child loves dinosaurs, cars, clothes, whatever… the more interested your child is in in the topic, the more they will want to do the activity.

Today’s activity is another fun way to practice writing…. writing on aluminum foil. In class we do this with dry erase markers, but it will also work with permanent markers. Provide your child with a set of words with pictures that match. You could create the list with pictures from the internet or have your child draw pictures and you write the words to match the illustrations.

weather words
weather and season words

pick your own topic… mine modes of entertainment
word work

Word Work Wednesday- Environmental Print

When children begin to see the connection between the printed and spoken word, they are learning to read! Often times people do not associate this early reading as reading, but just see it as memorization or visual clues.

When your child wants to hear his/her favorite book over and over and can eventually “read” it on their own, they may not be reading the words, but trust me they see themselves as a reader. Often times we discredit this feeling in children and tell them they aren’t reading… they are reading… like a 4/5 year old. And, this is a good thing!

Here is a way to help your child practice reading actual sentences, work on learning/practicing sight words, AND utilize the environmental print they already can read.

First… environmental print is the print we see in our every day life. This does not mean you need to go around and label the door, cabinet, floor and couch in your house… nope it means looking for the words are already exist in your space. I bet your child can read more words than you realize when you think about it in these terms.

Second… sight words are words that you have to memorize how to read and write. The fluency of reading sight words increases the fluency of reading… the faster you can read the sight words, the faster you can read. Now, do you need to drill and kill sight words with your preK kiddo… NOOOOO! I do think introducing some simple ones helps your child in the reading and writing process. Words like: I, a, the, my, see, like, can. These words make writing sentences easier and are used in a lot of easy reader books.

So, lets combine these two skills. Write out sentence starter strips “I like”, “I see”, “I like the”, “I see the”. You could also add “I see a” “I like my” or other simple sentence. Now have your child find words around the house that he/she can read. Trust me… go to your pantry they can read lots of food words!

When your child reads, point to the words as they are said. Once he/she gets better at recognizing the sight words, have him/her point and read at the same time.

I like the Crayola markers.
I see the Smartfood
I like Goldfish
I see the Oreo cookies.
I like the Cheerios
letter work · writing

Word Word Wednesday- sound match and sentences

Hi everyone! I thought today would be a good day to get your kiddo moving while learning. You will need a set of alphabet cards, you might still have the set we made for the letter matching game. I suggest using just the lowercase for this activity.

Ok, this game doesn’t have a name… we need one, but let’s just go with it for now.

  • Have your child choose 5-8 letters each time you play the game. (some letters will be very hard to do, so don’t worry if you can’t find an items for all the letters).
  • Have your child pick a letter card. Next have your child tell you the letter’s name and sound. Then have your child find an item that begins with that letter sound. To expand on it, have him/her state it in a sentence “_____ begins with _____” or “_____ is for ______”.
  • Continue until you have finished all letters.
  • To clean up the cards, you can play the game in reverse. Ask your child what sound each item began with and they bring you the letter card and say the sound. “What sound does fish begin with?” “/f/”
b is for bowl, c is for cup
t is for table, f is for fish

Have your child choose one item that he/she labeled and write a sentence about it. After your child has drawn a picture and written a sentence, have your child read the sentence to you.

A great way to get your child writing is to provide a sentence starter. You can do this a few different ways.

  • Provide a sentence starter “I like to _____________”, “I see the_____________” and have your child finish the sentence using phonetic spelling.
  • Provide a list of sight words that can be put together to make a sentence. Provide words such as: I, the, see, like, the, my, can etc. This can be challenging if your child is not confident in reading the sight words.
  • Create a sentence starter based on a topic you are working on, your child enjoys. “My favorite insect is________”, “The red car can_____________”, “I want to eat _______________” etc…

letter work · writing

Word Work Wednesday- spring words

Word work is the manipulation of letters to focus on word spellings and/or meanings. There are many different ways to have children participate in word work activities. Today I am going to share one of my students’ favorite and how you can tweak this and make it work at home.

Write the Room/Read the Room

spring write the room words

This activity is fun for children because it gets them up and moving around the classroom, or in this case your house. You can use this list of words, google spring words for kindergarten in images (there are a ton), or just label items around the house.

Print the words or create your own illustrations. Put the images, with word underneath, around the room. Have your child number a sheet of paper 1-6. Then they have to go around and find the pictures.

Once they find the picture, have him/her read the word. Next they copy the spelling of the word onto their paper. Finally, they draw their own illustration of the word. After they have completed all 6 words, have your child read your the word and then go find the picture card to match the word he/she just read.

If your child struggles to write the word, you can write the words on the paper you are giving your child and have him/her match the printed word to the word on the card and then draw the illustration.

If copying the word is too easy, you can either write the beginning sounds on the paper and have your child match the word with the beginning sound and then sound out the rest of the word. Print out the picture without the word and try to sound out the word. OR have your child write a sentence instead just a word.


You can also use these words to help your child move into sentence writing. These sentences can be as complicated as writing “I use an umbrella in the rain” (spelled phonetically except umbrella that he/she copied off the sheet, or as simple as “I see a bird.” This is an opportunity to work on leaving spaces between words, sight words, and matching the words to the illustration.