High-frequency words are words that occur most frequently in written material and do not follow phonetic rules or, as we say in the EL Education curriculum, "don't play fair." Due to this fact, it is important that students are able to navigate these words with ease to improve their reading fluency and comprehension. While high-frequency words on their own don't carry much meaning, they are essential to sentences and help students gather meaning. Below you will find five activities for each day of the week that teachers can do with students or parents can do with their children at home as high-frequency words are being introduced cycle by cycle.
- Read it, say it, write it, read it again
- Use high-frequency words in sentences (oral and written)
- Read a list of high-frequency words and time yourself on fluency (keep running list)
- Search for high-frequency words in sentences/poems and underline them
- Fishing for high-frequency words (one person reads the word aloud, other students find the word in a stack of other high-frequency words)
The instructional practices listed below summarize the instruction that accompanies the skills that are being taught in this cycle for the respective grade level. Teachers should review these routines for guidance on how to teach the skills and patterns reflected in the microphase.
- Engagement Text: This text serves to pique students' interest in the Decodable Reader, introduced in Work Time B, by incorporating the topic and words from this cycle into an engaging read-aloud.
- Letter-Sound Chant: Students chant the names of letters and accompanying letter sounds in this ongoing routine (used in multiple lessons throughout a cycle) that reinforces taught graphemes (letter) and phoneme (sound) connections and keywords. This chant connects the keywords and phonemes in students' memories to support quick recall of phonemes for decoding and encoding.
- Phonemic Blending and Segmentation: Students segment and blend single-syllable words with three phonemes. This practice continues to refine students' ability to focus on and analyze the sounds within words.
- Poem Launch: Students hear/read a poem that includes keywords for each letter introduced in the cycle. The verses incorporate new high-frequency word(s) and words that feature the cycle's new graphemes (letters) and phonemes (sounds). This poem is used throughout the cycle for different purposes.
- Mystery Word (Clues to the Mystery Word and Introducing the Mystery Word): Students explore the already introduced poem for a new purpose: searching for a "mystery" high-frequency word. Students are given clues about the number of letters in the word and then search for words with the same number of letters, encouraging student inquiry. They also listen for a word as the teacher reads the words of the poem, clapping when they hear it. This practice is a vehicle for introducing Kindergarten high-frequency words that students will later see in poems and Decodable Student Readers.
- Make a Match: Students match rhyming words together.
- Interactive Sentence Building: Students synthesize their ability to rhyme with their knowledge of letter identification by identifying a missing word in a poem and matching it to its representation in print.
- Feel the Beats: Students explore the already introduced poem for a new purpose: to listen for and identify each syllable (beat) in a spoken word. They count the number of syllables in the spoken word, pronounce each one, and manipulate them by segmenting and blending. (Note: Starting in Module 3, this Work Time instructional practice transitions to a shorter, Opening practice.)
- Chaining: Students begin by identifying each phoneme they hear in a CVC word and connect each of those sounds to the letter (grapheme) that matches it. Once they have encoded the word in this way, they then decode it by making each individual sound and blending them to pronounce the word.
Cycle Word List
In Modules 3 and 4, kindergarteners work on phonemic segmentation and blending and are introduced to decoding and encoding VC and CVC words. For the full cycle overview with word list, Cycle-at-a-Glance, and teaching notes, download the cycle overview.
Engagement Text and Decodable Readers
The text listed below can be utilized to reinforce the skills taught in the cycle. Teachers can use the text to have students apply their learning during small group work or teacher-led groups. By focusing on the skills/patterns being taught, students can apply their learning to text. A list of activities to consider with the text are listed in the activity section.
Josh lives in a little hole in an alley wall. He wants to make his rat hole the coziest and most inviting rat hole in the alley. So he has been collecting items from the alley trash cans for weeks, using them to decorate his little home.
Josh invites his friend Ben over to show him his newly decorated rat hole. “Wow!” Ben says as he walks into the den. “This looks great! You even have a rug!”
“Yes,” Josh says proudly. “I found a piece of red fabric, and it was the perfect size for a rug!”
“And a bed!” says Ben.
“Yes,” Josh says. “I stuffed some cotton balls into a mitten. It is very comfortable.”
Josh and Ben sit in the den and chat. They talk about the weather and their alley friends. Josh offers Ben a snack. They split a peanut and dip it into a packet of jam Josh found.
“May I have a drink?” asks Ben.
“Of course. Here’s some water,” Josh says as he hands Ben a plastic water bottle top he uses as a cup. But Ben drops the cup and spills the water all over the rug.
“Oh no!” says Ben. “I am so sorry! You have worked so hard to decorate your place, and now I’ve made a mess.”
“I decorated my rat hole so I could share it with my friends!” says Josh. “I wouldn’t even care if you got sticky jam all over the floor! I’m just happy to share my home.”
Ben and Josh sit back down and continue to enjoy their snack and each other’s company.