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Monday, January 3, 2011

Making Words- lessons from 1st grade Teacher Reading Academy 

Guidelines for Making Words
Teacher Preparation
Step 1: Think of a word related to a theme, content-related topic, concept, or story.
This word will be the final word that students make in the lesson. The letters in this
word are used to make other words.
Step 2: Brainstorm 10 or 12 words that students can make using any of the letters in
the final word.
Step 3: Group words by common spelling patterns. Write each word on an index card.
Step 4: Sequence the words by the number of letters students will use to make them.
[Begin with two-letter words, then three-letter words, etc.]
Step 5: Write the individual letters of the final word on separate index cards. [You
may use individual letters or letter cards that you already have.] It is helpful to
organize each lesson in a labeled envelope or reclosable plastic bag.

Teaching a Making-Words Lesson
Teacher: Large letter cards; pocket chart; index cards with words to be made
Students: Individual letter cards and pocket chart (Individual pocket charts can be made from
file folders.)
Note: Distribute only the letters needed to make the words in each lesson. Too many letter
choices can complicate the activity for students, especially for students who are at risk for
reading difficulties.
Step 6: Distribute one set of the letters in the final word to each child.
Option A: Place all the same letters in a reclosable bag or a tray. Take out bags of
letters to be used in the lesson. Students pick up one letter from each bag
before the lesson begins, or designated students get a letter set for each child in
their group. Students place letters in individual pocket charts.
Option B: Students find the letters for the lesson from personal sets at their desk.
Students place letters in individual pocket charts.
Note: Choose words that consist of previously introduced letter-sound
correspondences. Include a range of simple to complex words.
Step 7: Students alphabetize letters, vowels first and then consonants.
Step 8: Show each letter in the lesson and review its name and sound.
Step 9: Tell students the number of letters in the first word. Say the word and then
use it in a sentence. In the beginning, and for students who are having difficulty,
model the process of making words. The number of words that you model depends on
your students’s needs and abilities. Students make the word with their individual
letters and pocket chart.
For students who need more support, say the word slowly, stretching out the sounds
“aaaaannnnn”. Use prompts such as, “What sound do you hear first? What sound comes next?
Say it again after me and point to each letter.”
Step 10: Have one child, who has made the word correctly, come up and make the
word in front of the class using the large letters and pocket chart.
A child may come to the front of the class and make the word before everyone is finished.
Encourage all students to self-check words they make by comparing them to words made at
the front of the room.
Monitor to see that each child has the correct word.
Note: To clarify for students who are having difficulty, ask them to say each sound in
the word they were asked to make. Then ask if the sounds match the letters in the word
they made. Have students make corrections. Then have them point to each letter, say
its sound slowly, blend the sounds together, and slide their finger under the word as
they say it again.
Step 11: Display the word card. Ask students to use the word in a sentence.
Step 12: Use the same procedures to make the other words. End with the final word.
The final word uses all of the letters and is a challenge for students to discover on their
own. Some of your students will figure it out quickly. Be sure to tell them not to say it until
you ask for the final word.
1TRA: Phonics and Spelling
©2009 University of Texas System/Texas Education Agency

Sorting Words
Step 13: Remove the individual letters. Place all the word cards in the pocket chart.
Students group or sort the words by common letters, sounds, or spelling patterns.
1TRA: Phonics and Spelling
©2009 University of Texas System/Texas Education Agency

Transfer to Reading and Writing
Step 14: Students generate other words that have the same patterns. This step helps
students understand how they can use spelling patterns to read and spell other words.

Related Activities:
Making Words Quickly
Give students two minutes to write as many words as they can using the letters from
the Making Words lesson. Ask students to read and spell their words.
Making Words Journals
Students write words from Making Words quickly in their journals. They can also record
words they have learned. Words can be grouped by patterns.
Word Hunts
Students look for words and patterns in other contexts (e.g., books, signs, magazines,
content area textbooks) to add to their collection of words.

Adapted from Cunningham, P. M. (2000). Phonics they use: Words for reading and writing (3rd ed.). New York, NY:
Addison-Wesley Longman; Cunningham, P. M., & Allington, R. L. (1999). Classrooms that work: They can all read
and write (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Addison-Wesley Longman; Cunningham, P. M., & Hall, D. P. (1994). Making
words: Multilevel, hands-on, developmentally appropriate spelling and phonics activities. Carthage, IL: Good Apple.
1TRA: Phonics and Spelling
©2009 University of Texas System/Texas Education Agency

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