Intermediate children continue to develop their knowledge of how words work. They have a firm foundation in word patterns and how to take apart words in both reading and writing. They have learned how to take words apart quickly and efficiently using word patterns such as –ink or –ight. They have also learned how to decode by analogy, but they need further instruction in three areas: prefixes and suffixes, less common letter combinations, and vocabulary development.
Prefixes and Suffixes
- Children learn common prefixes such as un-, re-, dis-, and im-.
- They also learn suffixes such as -ly, -ful, -tion, -sion, and -able.
- Learning prefixes and suffixes helps children take apart multi-syllabic words and use the meaning of those parts to infer the meaning of an unknown word.
Other Activities to Support Phonics
A word sort is an activity that requires students to group words into different categories. Word sorts draw the student’s attention to a particular skill and help students make generalizations about how words work. Sorts help children learn a word pattern, spelling rule, or other phonics skill.
- Word sorts require students to sort words written on individual cards or individual word cards cut up from a list of words.
- The words are sorted into piles based on criteria, usually with several categories, like long vowels, suffixes, and word families, and an “other” category for words that don’t fit.
- As students sort the words, they say each word and put it in the appropriate category. They have to look carefully at the words and notice similarities and differences.
- Students might also hunt for examples to fit the sort. Read also about Reading Comprehension Strategies.
- Once finished, a chart is posted with the categories the class worked on, and children can add words that fit the pattern any time they find them in reading.
Open and Closed Sorts
- In a closed sort, teachers determine how the words are to be categorized and sorted. Then the teacher helps the children make inferences and develop generalizations for how words work.
- In an open sort, the students can decide how to categorize and sort the words.
Sorts Vary, Depending on Phonics
- Kindergarten children might sort pictures for beginning sounds.
- First-grade children might sort rhyming words while second graders might sort words with the same vowel sound, such as rain, make, plane.
- Intermediate children might sort -tion and -sion words and generalize that most words are spelled -tion.
Word hunts are used to reinforce phonics and spelling patterns and are valuable because they draw attention to the spelling patterns in children’s reading.
- Hunts often follow a word sort with students hunting for words with a particular pattern in familiar books that they can easily read.
- Students can hunt with partners, independently, or with the class as a whole. Fact is, that Reading is the Best Leisure Activity!
- As students find words, they record them on paper or add to a class chart that fits the pattern being studied.
A word wall is a visible reference for words, word families, and other phonics skills children use often in reading. They also contain spelling patterns and rules they use often in writing. Words included on the wall or in charts come from the phonics skills addressed at a given grade level. For more information see Developmental Continuum. These words and charts of families are displayed on a board or wall in the classroom.
- The words and charts displayed grow gradually throughout the year, as the teacher introduces and guides children in using the words.
- These words can be more easily referenced than a personal dictionary.
- Words can be displayed with pictures to remind children of the words.
- Several words are added each week as the teacher instructs students in the words so that they can understand and can associate meaning with them.
- Kindergarten teachers add words to the word wall only after the words have been found in numerous books and in shared writing. They add words less frequently than Grades 1 and 2.
- Each week students in Grades 1 and 2 are involved in activities that help them become familiar with and use the word wall as a reference.
- Intermediate students do at least one activity each week to help them be familiar with and use the word wall. Check also: Reading Essentials for 6-9-year-olds.
Word Wall Activities
- Rhyme the Word Wall: Children number their paper from 1 to 5. When given a clue, they write a word from the wall that rhymes.
- Be a Mind Reader: The teacher gives five clues for a word on the wall. After each clue, children write their guess. By the fifth clue, everyone should have determined the word.
- Other word wall activities can be found in Words Their Way by P.M. Cunningham and Phonics that Work! by J. Wagstaff.