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Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Word chains are a fun activity that packs a punch. So much can come from this little activity. Word chains help build the skills of segmenting, blending and phoneme manipulation. The act of creating a word chain or figuring out what goes in a word ladder teaches the sound-symbol correspondence in the context of real words.

To build the chain, students segment words for spelling and decode to reread the words in the chain.

Louisa Moats and the makers of the LETRS training are also a fan.

“Word chains help students to focus on the internal details of the word and help students recognize subtle differences between and among similar-sounding words.” LETRS unit 1

We use word chains in every session, and they are the perfect activity to add to a home practice schedule because word chains look and feel like a game. Word chains get students to focus on just one sound change.

This targets segmenting for spelling each word in the chain and decoding and blending for rereading every word. In the beginning, many children find blending a tricky skill to develop. This playful, short activity helps students get lots of repetition with skills and knowledge.

Word chains are perfect for whole-class dictation as part of your daily review. The cat is a fun alternative to a whiteboard or plain paper. We have been using many templates this year to switch up our writing. My students love it. I love all these cats on this classroom wall.

Word chains work best if you have a premade list, so you don’t have to think on your feet.

The lists all start with the word cat and are perfect for repetition of the sounds and letters — S A T P I N M D O G C.

Head on over to my Partner Read post to grab some more free word chain lists and sentences here

Word chain cat comes with a How-To letter for you to send home and includes the word tiles needed to create the word chains. A free movable alphabet for initial sounds and first digraphs is on my free library page for when you move on to different letters and sounds.

Once your child knows how to build a word chain, you could challenge them to fill in a word ladder. Word ladders work the same way as a word chain. The only difference is that the first and last words are given, and the challenge is to fill in the two middle words, just changing one sound each time.

Check out our other posts as we work through the initial sounds sequence if you love Word Chain Cat.

My good friend Pam Kastner recently shared a word chain Padlet created by Erin Eighmy. A brilliant free resource full of information about word chains. Please go check it out here.

Are you interested in more word chains and word lists for the initial code, first digraphs, vowel and consonant sounds and spelling? Please check them out here.


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