Using Slinkys in a Phonemic Awareness Activity

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SWBAT separate and segment individual phonemes in single syllable spoken words.

Big Idea

Did you know that you can learn how to read by using a slinky?

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

      If you read my reflection, you'll see why I believe phonemic awareness is so important.  You really can have your students focus on segmenting and blending every single day in your phonics lessons and it will only take you about 5 extra minutes.  If you have students who need extra support in reading, you can also increase the amount of phonemic awareness and phonics they do each day in their  small reading groups.  By doing a few extra minutes of phonemic awareness and phonics you will see a marked difference with these students.  As we segment our words into phonemes and blend them back together we are addressing standards RF1.2 RF1.2b, and RF1.2d. There is also a phonics component to this lesson.  As we introduce the letters into the phonics portion of the lesson we are addressing standard RF.1.3.  Finally, we will write a sentence dictation using our words.  As students learn the grammatical points in writing their sentences and then learn to read their sentences from left to right, we are addressing standards RF1.1, and RF1.1a.

     If your district has adopted a specific phonics program, or you have a phonics program that goes along with your reading series, by all means use what your district wants you to use.  For those of you that don't have a program to use, I have included two resources from reading series that I know are Common Core aligned.  You can follow the order of which phonics skills to introduce each week. You can see them here Phonics_Scope__Sequence.pdf or here Journeys_Scope-Sequence_2014_gradesK-6.pdf

     For this lesson you will want to either download the Smartboard Word Tapping and Mapping.notebook or Activboard Word Tapping and Mapping.flipchart lesson to do the tapping and mapping of words in the phonics portion of the lesson.  I have also included a practice sheet Phonics Practice Sheet.pdf for your students to practice their words and do their sentence dictation.

Sound Automaticity and Modeling Section (I Do)

5 minutes

     One of the first things I do in our phonics lessons every day is to review our letters and sounds by doing a flashcard pack with our sound spelling cards.  I use the cards that come with our reading series, but if you don't have a set, you can print some out here. I  quickly say the letter, key word, then the sound.  Then the students repeat after me.  I want my students to be able to make the association between letter and sound quickly, so when they decode they won't have to spend large amounts of time mentally retrieving the sound when they see a letter.  This will help with fluency because you have helped students to free up their "mental deskspace." Once students have mastered basic sounds such as consonants, I take those out of our pack and then we only work on other graphemes such as ai, sh, and aw.

     After going through our card pack, I said, "OK boys and girls, did you know that you can learn to be an awesome reader with a slinky?  Scientists have learned that if we can't break a word into each of its sound parts, or phonemes that we will have a hard time learning how to read and spell?  It is really important that we learn how to break our words apart into its phonemes so we can be good readers and spellers.  When we break a word apart into its phonemes its called segmenting.  Can you say segmenting?"  I asked them, "Would you like to see how I do this?"  And of course they did.

    One of the key shifts in the Common Core standards is to make sure understand academic vocabulary, so I don't dumb down the language I use with them and help them learn words like segment, syllable, phoneme, etc.

    I continued by saying, "Now watch carefully as I segment this word  into its phonemes using this slinky." The process went like this:

  • I say the whole word first.
  • I point at my students so they repeat after me, saying the whole word.
  • Then I take my slinky, holding each side in each of my hands. Each time I say a phoneme I stretch the slinky out with both of my hands.
  • Then I say Word? (This tells the students I want them to blend the word back together again.) Then I blend the word back together again, saying the entire word, pushing my slinking back together again.

     So if I was doing the word mess, I would model it like this:

  • mess
  • (students repeat) mess
  • /m/ /e/ /s/
  • I say, "Word?" And the students tell me "mess."

Segmenting Our Words Orally

3 minutes

      I used the set of words from my district's phonics program that I was supposed to teach that day.  Before spelling the words we worked on these phonemically first. 

     I will use the example of how we worked on words that had ff, ss, or ll at the end of a one syllable, short vowel word.  I had the slinky and my list of words at my side. Using the example of words that have ff, ss, and ll the words would look like this: 

dress (dress) /d/ /r/ /e/ /s/

Jeff (Jeff) /J/ /e/ /f/

will (will) /w/ /i/ /l/

miss (miss) /m/ /i/ /s/

huff (huff) /h/ /u/ /f/

pill (pill) /p/ /i/ /l/ 

     I do have a video of my students practicing words with their slinkys Slinky Segment.m4v .  The video was actually taken during a different lesson, but I think you will understand the process by watching the video.

Taking It to the Phonics Level

20 minutes

     Now it was time to do the phonics part of our lesson.  I have seen a huge difference in how well my students can decode and spell by tweeking the way we do our phonics routine.  When we practice spelling our words, we tap and map them out.  You can watch this video Tapping and Mapping Sounds Floss Rule.mp4  on how we do this in our lessons.  Just for consistency's sake I have used the example of using words with double ff, ss, and ll in the video. 

     After we tap, map, and write our words.  We also practice writing our sight words for the week, and then we complete a sentence dictation using our spelling words for the day.  I have some great strategies that will help your students be successful with learning how to write sentences.  You can watch how we do our sentence dictations by watching this video Rereading Strategy Floss Rule.mp4 .


2 minutes

     I asked the students, "Does anyone remember why I told you it was important that we are able to segment words? What did the scientists say we could get better in if we can segment words well?"  I wanted to make sure that students understand their spelling and reading will get better if they can learn to segment words well and that is the purpose for why they segment.