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Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Word building should be an integral part of every literacy session. It should be an everyday play event in your home. Word building is an active process and engages even the most reluctant learner. Have fun with word building and play a variation of Boggle as a daily word building game.

Once your child knows several letters and sounds use those for daily playful repetition or as a playful starter to a session building up to the 26 letters and sounds. If your child knows all sounds and letters, shuffle the cards and pick out 3 vowels and 6 consonants.

I play this game with students of all ages and they love it. In later years, I also use my advanced code with older students to give them lots of playful exposure of longer graphemes and this activity aids spelling. For more games, head on over here to see why you should be playing with your words.

Pictures are also a brilliant visual to start a word building sequence in the beginning. I use pictures as a stimulus to start playful word chains.

A fun and quick way to build the sound-symbol correspondence needed for fluency

The process

Say the word that corresponds to the picture

Listen to the word and segment the sounds

Find the grapheme tiles

Build the word and say the sounds

Blend to reread the word

Write the word

This a great activity to help your child manipulate sounds to create new words.

As your child actively participates in this activity, they are building their skills of blending and segmenting sounds, which develops brilliant word attack skills. Building rhyming chains and word chains is a great way to focus attention on the skills of segmenting and blending sounds to create words.

The grapheme tiles act as a scaffold for later learning. Writing words is a very important step, but for some children, this is too much, too soon. Fluent writing like fluent reading is the end goal, but there are many steps students have to master before they get there.

Manipulating sounds to create new words is the most effective way to develop the sound-symbol correspondence

Multisensory learning takes place when we engage all senses.

Emphasise seeing the letters, hearing the sounds, feeling the sounds in your mouth and moving tiles to make words.

I use a movable alphabet in most sessions and my own children use it to develop their reading and spelling abilities too.

Use a movable alphabet to assist all learners with segmenting and blending

Having fun with an activity, even if it is taxing, fuels curiosity and aids learning. A movable alphabet can help little learners connect reading and spelling skills. The advanced code tiles move children beyond first words and assists them to develop their decoding strategies.

Word building cards are a fun way to get little learners started with first words.

Using the movable alphabet develops confidence.

Everything you need is in front of you – the movable alphabet eases the cognitive load. Using letter tiles to make words is easier than writing words.

In the first session of introducing a new speech sound, we always build words and work with these words as we verbally make sentences and define words to develop comprehension. In the second session, we build words as a review and use the same words in our writing. Building words is a great warm-up for reluctant writers and readers as this actively engages their bodies and this stimulates those feelings of – I can do this! Before the hard work of – I now have to write begins!

Learning how to write words and form correct sentences takes time for all. Scaffolding, from the very beginning, takes all children through a process of first forming short decodable words, manipulating sounds in words to create new words by adding sounds, deleting sounds and substituting sounds. I always use the strategy.

Think it, Say it, Write it.

Get your students to say their sentences and count the words so they know the number of words they must see on their page or whiteboard.

Most children I work with are reluctant writers, and the very act of putting pencil to paper is just hard work. We must work with all learners to help them gain confidence and flourish. Check out my first sentences post here.


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