Today’s contribution is by Becky Spence the author of This Reading Mama!
It’s no surprise that learning phonics is an essential part of learning to read. And when it comes to teaching phonics skills, I much prefer hands-on activities (and for the most part, so do kids.) Sorting words is a great way to help kids see how words are connected, both in reading and in spelling. And with the beautiful leaves beginning to fall, why not use them to sort some words?
My Kindergartner has been working through the digraphs (sh, th, ch, & wh) with some picture sorts and various games I’ve created. I thought it was time to stick those digraphs into actual words for some word sorting with fall leaves.
Preparing our Phonics Activity
- First, I brainstormed a list of short vowel words that started with th-, sh-, and ch- (6 words for each digraph). I picked short vowel words because he can already read and spell most simple short vowel words. Short vowels are a great place to start after kids know their letters and letter sounds because the spelling patterns in short vowel words are much more predictable than long vowel patterns.
- The day before the activity, we spent some time collecting fall leaves together from our yard. Once I was sure I had enough, I placed them in a book to flatten them overnight.
- The next day, I wrote the 18 words with Sharpie on the fall leaves, each on a separate leaf.
Sorting our Phonics Words
- First, we read through all the words together. I wanted to be sure he could read the words before we sorted them. The two sounds of th threw him off a little, but we had a good discussion about that.
- Then, I explained that we were going to sort the words by the sound/letters at the beginning of the words.
- As he sorted each word, he practiced reading it again.
- At the end, he counted each pile to discover they were all equal (6 leaves each).
- We quickly reviewed the sounds of sh-, ch-, and th- again.
FIVE of my Favorite Things About Word Sorts
- They are hands-on, with the child manipulating the words (or sometimes pictures).
- They can be tailored to the skill the child needs, making them developmentally appropriate.
- They help kids see the connection that words can share, training kids to look for common patterns as they read and spell (a powerful strategy.)
- They work well for direct instruction or for the discovery method of learning.
- They are quick. Our leaf sorting lasted maybe 10 minutes, perfect timing for an active boy!
There’s an App for That!
I recently launched an app based on word sorts called Short Vowels Word Study app. It is perfect for kids who are learning short vowel patterns or need more practice with them. It can be purchased on iTunes or Google Play for $2.99.
Becky Spence is a blogger, author, speaker, and coffee drinker. She homeschools four, little blessings who keep her on her feet (and knees). She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares lots of reading and writing activities as well as free literacy curricula and printables. Her favorite online places to hang out are Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.