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Updated: Mar 19

Word building is a fantastic activity that showcases how the initial sounds link to the letter symbols. The act of manipulating sounds to create words quickly builds the sound-symbol correspondence in the context of real words.

The next set of letters in the sequence are M D G O C K. These letters go together with the letters S A T P I N, to create new words to build, pull apart and read. This might not be your sequence, and that's OK. A blank copy is available for you to add in the letters of your choosing.

There's a lot to learn in the first year of school, so we must be mindful that we present information in tiny chunks that are repeated often so that as many children as possible are caught in our literacy net. Many children need information on rinse and repeat. Capturing their attention with engaging activities is a recipe for increased motivation. We paired this activity with The Gingerbread Man story and created a rhyme.

Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me. I'm the word-building man.

I always leave several stories with my students. The Gingerbread man was the — 'we can read it together story'.

Word building is one of those activities that covers so many skills and content knowledge—and it's fun! I have never had a child who did not like word-building.

Go here to read about the First Steps in Word building.

Go here to read more about word building.

Go here to read about the skills needed for fluent reading.

I do word-building sessions with all my students. In the beginning, word building is about connecting speech sounds to the alphabet. But word building doesn't stop once students know the initial sounds A-Z. My older students build words with the same sound but different spellings, or they might be word families, and we discuss a spelling pattern. We might even focus on the spelling patterns that occur when making base words longer by adding prefixes and suffixes. Pulling words apart and putting them back together builds the skills required for fluent reading.

Be consistent and stick to a sequence.

If you don't have a sequence, check out this post about the sequence I use. If you want to look at a range of sequences for some other programs, go here. The word building man printable is perfect for repeated practice, literacy centres after explicit instruction or home practice. He goes so well with gingerbread men for an afternoon snack.

Here is what we did

We started with the word man. Word building reviews past learning and playfully builds skills. We have to be all about eyes on print, and word building is an effective way to do this. Reading is all about the words, and this short activity is all about linking sounds to letter symbols by segmenting sounds to spell and then reading the words just built.

We built several words and reread every word by blending to read.

We discussed the words and added the words to sentences after reading the words.

After building words, we used some paper men to write words instead of our usual whiteboard for writing. Writing can be challenging for little ones. It is a laborious task, so changing the surface can make it a fun activity as we had to add words to their shirts!

The word man is also a good word to think about irregular plurals. So, we discussed it with the gingerbread men. We have one gingerbread man, but what about these two over here — what do we call these? Most children learn this vocabulary through everyday conversation, but it is good to help them connect the dots as many children overgeneralise. Then we hear 'mans' and 'brang' and 'catched'.

The free printable comes with a letter to send home to parents. The more we can involve parents, the more repeated practice can happen, which benefits all children. Grab the printable here.

After building, we always add words to a sentence created by the student or a dictated sentence. When we add words to sentences with students, we help them connect meaning to the words we are decoding and spelling. We also used the sentences on the sheets to start a discussion. As we chat about words, we build vocabulary, and this builds meaning and comprehension.


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