Thursday, November 5, 2009

Game: Construct - A - Word

All Ages
5-15 minutes
Best for individual students or small groups.

Construct-a-Word is meant to bolster phonemic awareness by way of Analogy Phonics, which the National Reading Panel defines as "teaching students unfamiliar words by analogy to known words." It also strengthens PA by giving students repeated opportunities to manipulate onset and rime.

Post-It Notes, marker or pen, notebook

I stole this idea from the online game that I featured here last spring. I was working with a 5th Grader who needed some help with her basics, but we did not have Internet access, so I converted the game to Post-its. It turned out quite well; the Post-its are colorful, inexpensive, portable, and good for use on almost any surface, be it a table top or a whiteboard. If you do not have Post-its at hand, you could substitute index cards.

On individual Post-its, write each letter of the alphabet and the phonemes "ch," "bl,""sl,""dr,""cl,"and "sh." Using a different color of Post-it, if possible, write the endings "ig,""ot,""ed,""et,""in,""un,""op,""an," and "at." You can add or substitute any other endings you like. When finished, the complete set should look something like this:

Your student should be intrigued about the colorful array of letters in front of her. Invite her to select an ending from on the yellow Post-its. Tell her that her challenge is to use the other Post-its to make as many real words as she can. When she finds one, invite her to set the onset letter aside and write the word in a notebook.

When there are real words left on the board that the student does not see, I suggest providing clues and, eventually, pointing out the new word and encouraging the student to practice and writing it down.


This game bolsters phonemic awareness by compelling a student to practice joining sounds together to make new words. It will also introduce or solidify the concept that words have a beginning and an end, which is a bedrock concept in PA.

This is also a good game for basic vocabulary.

There will inevitably be errors made and a few words that the student does not know. Both the errors and the new words have as much or more value than the correct answers. Even erroneous answers compel our student to practice joining an onset and a rime, strengthening phonemic awareness.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent idea. I will share this with my fellow teachers.