You're Going to Teach Me to Read With a Hoola Hoop? A Phonemic Awareness Activity

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SWBAT segment a spoken word into its individual phonemes.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students will practice how to segment words into phonemes and have a lot of fun in the process!

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

     As I've mentioned in all my other phonemic awareness lessons, segmenting and blending are important skills that students need to master if they want to be outstanding readers and spellers.  I have added another lesson to add to your toolkit to keep your segmenting and blending lessons fresh and to keep children from rolling their eyes when you say, "It's time to segment our words!"

      We are going to be addressing many of the Reading Foundational standards in today's lesson.  Segmenting and blending always go together.  When we practice segmenting and blending we are addressing standards RF1.2, RF1.2b, and RF1.2d. There is also a phonics component in our lesson.  When we begin to introduce the letters and learn the phonics rules associated with the sound/spelling correspondence we are addressing standard RF1.3.  Finally, students will be writing a sentence dictation in the lesson.  When students learn the grammar components of writing a sentence along with the print concepts associated with reading their sentence, they address standards RF1.1, and RF1.1a.

     For this lesson you will need up to 7 hoola hoops.  Typically, at the beginning of the year, students will learn to segment words containing 2 or 3 phonemes.  As the year progresses students will begin to segment words with up to 5 phonemes. By the end of the year, when you are working with words with prefixes and suffixes, students could be working with words up to 7 phonemes long.   I found some hoola hoops on an online P.E  equipment website  that you piece together and they are really inexpensive.  If you would like to take a look, click here.

     During the phonics part of our lesson you will want to download either the Smartboard Word Tapping and Mapping.notebook or Activboard Word Tapping and Mapping.flipchart template for tapping and mapping out our words.  You will also want to make enough copies of the student practice paper Phonics Practice Sheet.pdf for each student in your class.  If your district hasn't adopted a specific phonics program, or your reading series doesn't have a phonics program associated with it, I have found 2 scope and sequences from 2 reading series that I know are Common Core aligned.  These resources can help you determine when to introduce certain skills. You can review them here Journeys_Scope-Sequence_2014_gradesK-6.pdf or here Phonics_Scope__Sequence.pdf.

Sound Automaticity and Modeling Section (I Do)

5 minutes

     I start every lesson with our flashcard pack.  I use the sound spelling cards that come with my reading series.  If you don't have sound spelling cards, you can print some off here.  I say the letter name, key word, and sound quickly.  Then students repeat after me.  Once students have mastered a sound, I take the card out of the pack.  The reason why we work on our letters and sounds is because I am pushing my students toward automaticity.  My students should be able to see a letter, or grapheme (such as a digraph or vowel team) and recall the sound associated with it quickly.  If they are able to do this, I have helped them to free up some of the "cognitive deskspace" in their brain.  Now, a part of their brain is freed up to focus on comprehension and students will read more fluently. 

     After we went through our card pack I said, "Today, I'm going to show you another way we can segment and blend our words back together. We are going to be hopping around like a bunch of frogs today." I got the hoola hoops out and set them on the floor. The students eyes were wide and I could tell they were excited.  I looked at the word list for the words we were going to spell that day.  I took the first word from the list and modeled how to segment and blend the word together using the hoola hoops.  There are actually 2 different ways to do this activity and I modeled both of the ways for my students.

  • First way: I said, "The first way to do this is like leap frog.  I am going to tell you a word.  You say the word back to me and then every time you say a phoneme, you jump in a hoop.  When you jump out of the last hoop, you will blend the word back together again."  Then I modeled how to do this with the word cup.
  • Second way: Then I said, "Now I'm going to show you how we can segment and blend the word back together with 3 people." I called 3 volunteers up to the front of the class and had each of them stand behind a hoop.  I said, " I will tell you the word.  All 3 of you will repeat the whole word. Then the first person says the first phoneme and jumps in their hoop, the second person says the second phoneme and jumps in their hoop, and then the 3rd person says the 3rd phoneme and jumps in their hoop. After the last person has jumped in their hoop I will say, Word? and you will blend the word back together again in your head, jump out of your hoops together and tell me the word.  Let's try that now." Then I had students model for the rest of the class.

Segmenting Our Words Orally

5 minutes

     I had my list of words ready to go and called on one table at a time.  The students made a line at the front of the line and I started to give each student a word.  We happened to be working on words that contained the short u sound.  You can see how my students did this activity (leap frog style) and how fast the phonemic awareness portion of the lesson went here Hoola Hoop Frog.m4v .

     Then I called on another group of students and had 3 of them stand behind the hoops.  I said the word, the group repeated the word and then segmented and blended the word back together again using the hoops.  You can see my students doing the phonemic awareness portion this way in this video Hoola Hoop 3 people.m4v .

     This portion of the lesson goes very quickly and before we knew it, it was time for the phonics portion of the lesson.

Taking It To the Phonics Level

20 minutes

     It was time to segue to the phonics portion of the lesson.  This next video Tapping and Mapping Sounds Short U.mp4  will show you how we tap and map out the words that we spell. Mapping out our words in every phonics lesson has really helped my students in both their decoding and spelling. I used my list of short u words that we had used in the phonemic awareness part of the lesson.

     When we are done mapping our words we take some time to write our sight words.  These are the words that don't have a regular pattern such as "of"  and "the." Students need just as much experience with writing these words as well. 

     Finally, we completed a sentence dictation that utilized some of our patterned words with short u and some of our sight words.  You can watch this video Rereading Strategy Short U Words.mp4 and get a good idea of the strategies that I teach during a sentence dictation.


2 minutes

     I asked my students, "Why is it important that we segment and blend our words first?" Then I have them go back and look at some of the patterned words we've mapped out.  I ask them questions such as "What is the 2nd grapheme in that word? What is the 3rd grapheme?" I want my students to not only be able to decode and spell, I also want them to have the conceptual knowledge involved with learning how to read.