Setting Purpose: Words Are Made of Letters | EL Education Curriculum

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Setting Purpose: Words Are Made of Letters

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can say the name of a classmate and "read" his or her name. (RF.K.1)
    • I can explain the connection between words and letters.
  • Work Time A: I can find (written) words and letters and tell the difference between them. (RF.K.1)
    • I can explain the connection between words and letters.
  • Work Time B: I can listen to the story "The Search for Names" and answer questions about what I heard.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Opening A. Determine whether they can move from left to right and top to bottom when tracking print.
  • Observe students during Work Time A. Determine whether they can distinguish between a word and a letter.



1. Opening (5-7 minutes)

A.Words and Letters: The Word We Heard

2. Work Time (10-15 minutes)

A. Distinguishing between Letters and Words: Letters and Words Rocks (optional)

B. Read-aloud: "The Search for Names" (Part 2)

3. Closing and Assessment (2 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Independent Work Time (40-45 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • Enlarged chant: "The Word We Heard" (see supporting materials; may be written on chart paper or a large white board, large enough for Student Name Cards (from Lesson 1) to fit on the blank spaces)
    • Word Rocks and Letter Rocks for Work Time B (cut out "rocks" using blank paper or construction paper; write whole words on some of them and single letters on others (example: write the word "cat" on one rock and the letter "b" on another); optional
  • Preview the story "The Search for Names" (see supporting materials).
  • Gather materials for independent work rotations (see Independent Work Time).


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)

  • letter, name, word (L)
  • beam, concealed (T)


  • Enlarged chant: "The Word We Heard" (to display; see Teaching Notes)
  • Pointer (optional)
  • Student Name Cards (from Lesson 1)
  • Letters and Words Rocks (see Teaching Notes; optional)
  • Story: "The Search for Names" (Parts 1 and 2) (one for teacher use; from Lesson 1)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Words and Letters: The Word We Heard

  • (Suggested transition song, "I'm a Little Teapot"):

"I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle. Here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, hear me shout. Just tip me over and pour me out."

  • Display Enlarged chant: "The Word We Heard."
  • Introduce the Words and Letters instructional practice:

1. Teacher reads the chant: "The Word We Heard" aloud, pointing under each word with a finger or a pointer. When pointing under a blank line, teacher does not say anything.

2. Teacher says: "Each time I said a word out loud, I pointed to the written word that matched it. But there are two blank spaces. When I put my finger under a blank space, I didn't say a word, and there is no word written there."

3. Teacher asks:

"What needs to be written on those blank lines?" (a name)

4. Teacher says: "That's right. Someone's name needs to go into those spaces.

5. Teacher asks:

"Who would like use to use their name?" (Volunteers raise hands.)

6. Teacher points under each word while he or she and students recite the chant again, saying the name of the volunteer in place of the blank lines.

7.Teacher says: "When we got to the blank line, we said (insert student name), but we didn't see (his or her) name. Let's read this together again, but this time, let's not just say his or her name, let's see their name too."

8. Teacher distributes.

9. Teacher reminds students that the cards have written words on them that represent their names.

10. Teacher invites either the same or a different volunteer to bring his or her card up and hold it above the blank line each time her or his name is said while the class recites the chant together.

11. Repeat with two or three more volunteers.

12. Teacher invites a new volunteer to hold his or her card up.

13.Teacher says: "If I see this word on a book, a coat, or some other object, I know that the book, coat, or object belongs to _____."

14. Teacher says: "The last part of our chant says 'and every time it looks the same.' I've noticed that too. Every time I see my name written somewhere, it looks pretty much the same. Sometimes it might be written in a different color or it might be written big or little, but it still pretty much looks the same."

15.Teacher writes his or her name on the board and says: "This says (inserts his or her name)."

16. Teacher covers up all but one letter and asks:

"Does this say (inserts name)?" (no)

17. Teacher says: "This is part of my name. This isn't a word. It's a letter."

18. Teacher asks:

"How many letters are there in my name?"

19. Teacher invites students to look at their cards and count the number of letters in their names.

  • The words "stout" and "spout" may still be unfamiliar to some students. Using body language to show "spout" and how the water "pours" from it supports that understanding.
  • Some students may feel uncomfortable, particularly early in the year, when attention is drawn to them, so consider asking for volunteers when playing games involving names.
  • Consider inviting student volunteers to come up and point to the words as the rest of the class recites the chant "The Word We Heard." Consider also inviting them to hold their arms out and point toward the enlarged chant, moving left to right and back and to the left for the next line, while reading.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Distinguishing between Letters and Words: Letters and Words Rocks (optional)

  • (Suggested transition song: "ABC Song," sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"):

"A b c d e f g (pause) h i j k l m n o p (pause) q r s (pause) t u v (pause) w x (pause) y and z. These are the letters we used to make a word. (pause) Let's play a game now, I will show you how."

  • Introduce the Distinguishing between Letters and Words instructional practice:

1. Teacher invites students to sit in a circle and explains that they will play a game to help them think about the difference between letters and words.

2. Teacher explains that the middle of the circle is a pond, and that he or she will set up Letters and Words Rocks that students will step on to move safely across the pond without getting wet.

3. Teacher places 6-10 "rocks" in the "pond."

4. Teacher models the game with a volunteer, calling out directions that the student then follows. Example:

"Step onto a rock that has just one letter."

"Step onto a rock that has a word with three letters."

"Step onto a rock that has a word that starts with the letter 't.'"

"Step onto a rock that has a word with four letters.

5. Repeat with more volunteers as time allows.

  • Saying directions such as "a word with (insert number) letters" supports knowledge that words are made up of letters.

B. Read-aloud: "The Search for Names" (Part 2)

  • Begin the read-aloud:

1. Teacher says: "We've been doing a lot of work today with names. That reminds me of the story we started yesterday: 'The Search for Names.'

2. Teacher invites students to either share with an elbow partner or with the whole group what they remember from the first part of the story.

3. Teacher reads the story: "The Search for Names" (Part 1) again and asks:

"What secrets do you think the stars planted in all of the things in the world?" (Responses will vary.)

"Where did Jeffi live?" (in the center of a hollow tree)

"Why do you suppose the tree is called 'The Naming Tree'?" (Answers will vary.)

4. Teacher reads Part 2 of the story.

5. Teacher asks:

"What did the wizard Allmine do to Jeffi?" (cast a spell so he couldn't walk)

"Why did he do that?" (He wanted Jeffi to tell him the dream/the secret the stars put into everything; if Jeffi told him, he would let him walk again.)

6. Teacher explains that he or she will read more of the story in the next lesson and invites students to think about how the story might be connected to what they are learning about words and names.

  • Consider using movements and comments to support student understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary or ideas in the story. Example:
    • Where it says "Jeffi refused to tell him," consider shaking your head or adding, "No. He would not tell him."

Closing & Assessments


A. Reflecting on Learning

  • Before moving to Independent Work Time, consider asking one of the following questions or giving one of the following prompts:

"What do we know about words?" (Responses will vary. Examples: "They are made of letters," "They tell us what things are.")

"What do we know about letters?" (Responses will vary. Example: "They are in words.")

"How will you be during Independent Work Time today? Kind, patient, careful, respectful?" (Responses will vary. Consider providing other specific words to choose from according to identified habits of character.)

"What will you do today during Independent Work Time that will allow you and your classmates to be successful?" (Responses will vary. Examples: "use kind language," "be careful with materials," "take turns.")

Independent Work Time

Suggested Plan: This first cycle provides time for students to practice what it means to work independently. A brief introduction is made to materials, and expectations for work habits and social interactions are established.

Note: Three suggestions for independent activities are given. Consider using any or all of these. For example, you may want to have all students working on the same activity, or you may want to have two or three activities happening simultaneously for a set time and then rotate students through. By Cycle 2, groups not working with the teacher at a given time should be engaged in purposeful independent rotation work. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work guidance document (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual) for more details.

Book Browsing:

  • Students spend time looking at their own individual book(s).

Word Work:

  • Students cut out and sort Letters and Words Rocks into two categories (letters and words).


  • Students draw a picture of an object (examples: a favorite toy, classroom materials). Student or teacher writes the name of the object on the picture, and teacher reminds student that the written word represents the object in the picture.

Additional Supporting Materials:

    • Teacher draws four to six Words and Letters Rocks on blank paper. Teacher labels some of them with words and some of them with single letters. Teacher makes one copy for each student. Students cut them apart and sort them into two groups: "words" and "letters."
    • Blank paper and drawing supplies

Responding to Text:

  • Students draw a picture to show what they have heard so far in Parts 1 and 2 in the story "The Search for Names." They should include some details from the story.
  • The pictures can be displayed in the classroom.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Blank paper and drawing supplies

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