What's at the End?

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Students will be able to know and apply grade level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

Big Idea

Students refine their phoneme segmentation skills as they look for items with the same ending sound as a given word.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I open up a big map of the United States on the SMARTBoard and ask the students, “Who can tell me where we live on this map?”

I select a student to come up and point to where they think we live on the map. Depending on where the student points to, I may do this several times with different students.

“Those were all good guesses at where we live on this map. In actuality we live here in the North East region of the map.”

“Does anyone know what this state is called (I have my finger on the map pointing to the state of Maryland)?”

I select a student to respond.

“Well done Jonathan; we do live in the state of Maryland. Can anyone tell me if they were born somewhere else?”

I select all of the students who raise their hand to tell the rest of the class where they were born. If we can find that location on the map of the US I have the student point to it. If the student is like myself and born outside of the US, I just have them name the place they were born.

“It is nice to know we have such mixed group of people. We each bring a wealth of information to the class which makes it a very interesting place to be.”

“Over the next two weeks we are going to learn as much as we can about the state we currently live in which is of course…”

I allow the students to call out the answer, “Maryland!”

“That’s right; Maryland.”  

I use this introduction for the lesson for two reasons. First I want the students to be aware that we are starting a new unit. Second I use the word Maryland over and over again throughout the conversation so that students become very familiar with the word. This familiarity with the word will help the students because the word Maryland is going to be the main focus in the activity part of the lesson. 


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called M is for Maryland: An Alphabet Picture Book, written and illustrated by Carla Golembe. I think the title pretty much tells the reader what the book will most likely be about, but I want to check in with you. What do you think this book will be about?”

I select a student to respond to the question.

“Yes I agree Emily; the book is most likely to be about Maryland. So if this is a book about Maryland what do you think we should find in here?”

I select another student to respond.

“I agree Finnley; there should be information about things we would find here in Maryland.”

Let’s go ahead and read our book and see what we can find out about the state we currently live in.”


During reading we stop and discuss the illustrations of places we recognize and some that are not so familiar to us. Places we recognize would be the Government house in Annapolis and the Aquarium in Baltimore. Places that are less familiar would be Sotterly mansion and Francis Scott Key Park. This book is a good introduction to some of the symbols and places we will be learning about during our Maryland unit.   


When I have finished reading the book I tell the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug.

Edge of the Rug Song.

“Can anyone give me a brief summary of what this book was about?”

I select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to respond to the question.

“Thank you Connor; you are right. The book is an introduction to information about the state of Maryland. We saw the pictures about the many places in Maryland and also some of the state symbols.”

“Today at one of your stations I am going to ask you to listen closely to the sound you hear at the end of the word “Maryland” (I make sure to emphasize the ending sound).”

“What sound do you hear at the end of the word “Maryland” (once again I emphasize the last/final sound)?”

I select a student to respond to the question.

“Well done Rachel: I hear the /d/ sound too. Which letter makes that particular sound?”

I select another student to respond.

“Right Adam; it is the letter d.”

“Can anyone give me a word which has the /d/ sound at the end?”

I select several students to respond to make sure the students have a clear understanding of the sound they are listening for.

“Those were all great /d/ ending sound words. At one of your work stations today you will find two sheets that look like this (I hold up two sample sheets). As you can see one of these sheets is covered with pictures. It will be your job to find the pictures with the /d/ sound at the end just like our word Maryland. Once you find the picture with the same ending sound, you cut it out and glue it onto the recording sheet.”

Ending sound master.

“When you have cut out and glued all of the pictures you think have the /d/ ending sound, you will need to label the pictures using your best tapping out skills. If you have difficulty with tapping out the sounds you can ask a friend at your table to help you.”

Of course I will be sitting at this station to work with students who have may have difficulty, as this is a great small group setting with a heterogeneous group. I am also there to act as a scribe for my students who offer dictation of their work.

“Can someone repeat the directions back to me so I know what to do?”

I select a student who I know will give me the correct order of directions because I do not want my struggling students to get confused with misinformation.

“Excellent recall back of directions Carson. Now as we know Mrs. Clapp will be suing a checklist to make sure each of you followed the directions as they were given. I will need to see a name on your recording sheet. I need to see at least five pictures of items with the same ending sound as Maryland. I need to see an attempt at labeling the items and the work needs to be neat and tidy.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some ending sound fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

 Students working on finding items with the same ending sound as the word Maryland.


Students need to learn to hear separate phonemes within words. Direct phonemic instruction can significantly accelerate students reading and writing achievement. Students may be able to read words as a whole, but being able to segment the sounds and then blend them back to together, gives the students a better understanding of the letters and sounds which make up words, which in turn leads to more fluent reading and comprehension.  



10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Higher performing student sample.         

Middle performing student sample.        

Lower performing student sample.


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me a word which has the same ending sound as the word Maryland.

“Today’s exit ticket is you have to tell me a word that has the same ending sounds as the word Maryland. Remind me, what is the sound I hear at the end of the word Maryland (I emphasize the final sound so the students understand the sound I am looking for)?”  

I allow the students to call out the answer, “/d/!”

“Great work team. Now you might want to think of more than one word with the /d/ ending sound because once someone has used that particular word it is…?”

The students are very used to hearing me say this now and will chant back, “Off the menu!”

Off the Menu.

“Now I am going to give you about ten seconds to think of your /d/ ending sound words.”

I hold up my arm and look at my watch as I “time” their thinking. I also pretend to be thinking so the students stayed focused on thinking.

“Okay your time is up. I hope you thought carefully because here we go.”  

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

Once a student has told me his/her word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on coming up with a word together.


Using this easy formative assessment tool gives me an opportunity to see if a student can quickly recall the skill they just used to complete the activity. They have just practiced using their phonetic abilities during the activity so it should not be difficult for the students to respond to this request. However, if a student does have a hard time coming up with a response I will take note because I need to find out if the student had difficulty because he/she has trouble transferring skill use from one activity to another or perhaps he/she was copying peer work at the table and does not have the skill themselves. Knowing the answer to this question will determine how I handle the situation. 


At this time of year we have practiced listening to many different sounds within words. I really want the students to be able to isolate sounds and use this skill to help them both decode unknown words in text and help them spell words during our writing activities.

I like to use the practice assessments for phoneme segmentation from Mrs. Frauenhofer’s Site.

I call the students over to me during a time such as free choice center time and just give this quick one minute assessment to see how they are doing at segmenting sounds within words.

I place a copy of the assessment sheet in the student’s folder so I can keep track of his/her progress.

Another site to use is the  K5 Learning Math and Reading Enrichment website. I will occasionally use the worksheets here as a quick assessment tool to see if my students understand the concept of the lesson we have just learned. When visiting the site for ending sound assessment I use the Ending Consonant worksheets. Try a variety to see if your students can use the skill of hearing ending sounds in a multitude of ways. 


Students color a Maryland State flag so they become familiar with this prominent symbol of the state in which they currently reside. 

Students coloring the Maryland state flag.


Students play an ending sound sort game using image cards from our alphabet chart. The students select a card, state what it is and then find another image which has the same ending sound. In this activity they are working with multiple sounds rather than just the one main sound form the focus activity. The activity shows me if students can take the skill they have just used in a lesson and apply it to another task. This shows true development of a discriminatory ear regarding ending sounds. 


At the computer station the students play the Ending Sounds game from the website SoftSchools.com. Once again the students must take what they have learned in the  main activity and apply the skill to different sounds. I also like this game because the students can practice either mouse driving skills of keyboard skills as they must identify the letter which goes with the sound.