Learning to read is an incredibly important and rewarding task for young learners. One of the foundational skills we can use to support young learners is word building. Starting with a strong foundation of phonics and systematic manipulation of words can set students up for a successful future in literacy. Let’s discuss the importance of word building activities in kindergarten, starting from the very beginning. We will explore how these activities can develop a love of reading, while also providing the necessary skills to become proficient readers.
Word Building Activities
Assuming we have been using phonological awareness activities to deepen the student’s understanding alphabetic knowledge, phonemic awareness and letter/sound knowledge and manipulation, students can start to put the sounds together to create manageable pieces of text. Explicit practice with blending and segmenting will be supported by hands-on letter and word play. Students are provided a limited range of letters/sounds to create, read, write and develop.
Using limited letters, the field of focus is smaller and the students can make dive deep into making skills solid. If a student is given letters 6 letters (a, g, s, b, m, and t), they can create 2, 3 and 4-letter words. Students can practice word chaining, vocabulary through picture matching, phrase building and sentence creation. As letters and words are added to the students known catalog, greater lessons can be created.
The First Step in word Building is Letter Fluency
Students practice identifying letters and letter sounds in isolation. Students can practice independent and simultaneous identifying. Students should be given a stack of cards, in no particular order, with the six letters. As they practice saying the letters, the teachers pops in and out of their space to monitor the identification. This can last for 20 seconds. Once the timer goes off, students will say the letter sounds in the same rotation for 20 seconds.
Word Building Step two-Blending Fluency
Students are given words to blend: ab, am, as, at, ma, abs, bag, bam, bat, gab, gas, mat, sag, Sam, sat, tab, tag, bags, gabs, mast, mats, stab (use at your discretion), stag, tabs, tags. Students can also use successive blending. Self-monitoring is possible with two-sided cards.
Phrase Fluency, the next step in word building
Students are given phrases to practice. Phrases can include: at a bag, at a bat, at a mat, at a tag, at a mast, tag a bat, tag a mat, gabs at a mat, gabs a Sam, bags a mat, tags a mat…
The Final step- Sentence Fluency
Students are given sentences to practice. Sentences can include: A bat gabs at the bag. A bat tags the bag. Sam tags the bag. Sam gabs at the mat. A bat tags Sam. Sam gabs at the mast.
Conclusion: Building Foundations
When we help students understand the smallest units of reading, we are building foundations for great things. We take students from learning skills in isolation to learning skills across content. We throw around the phrase “systematic” and “explicit” instruction like it was confetti, but it’s really true. If we are systematic with our explicit instruction students are rewarded with success. Their love of reading is contagious.