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.
- 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.
- Write the Letter to Match the Sound: Students use knowledge of phoneme segmentation to isolate and identify the initial, middle, and final sound in a word. As they identify each sound, they must connect it to its written representation (grapheme) and practice proper letter formation.
- Interactive Writing: Students apply their growing knowledge of letter-sound connections to writing words by working on a shared sentence. Students apply their knowledge of high-frequency words and letter-sound knowledge to spell familiar words and also practice correct letter formation and punctuation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Assessment and Goal Setting (during cycle assessments): Students take on-demand assessments at the end of each cycle. Teachers score immediately to track students' progress and possibly revise their personal goals for the module accordingly.
Cycle Word List
In Modules 3 and 4, Kindergartners work on phonemic segmentation and blending and are introduced to decoding and encoding VC and CVC words, as well as words with digraphs. This cycle continues to focus on patterns introduced in prior cycles. The following list provides examples of words that contain the patterns from this cycle.
Note that the last five words include four phonemes (initial or final consonant blends). Students who are ready to segment individual sounds within spoken and written words with four phonemes can use words from this list (or similar). 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.
After three days of pouring rain, it has finally stopped. The kids are all excited to finally be able to go outside and play. Josh heads over to the park, hoping the kids will have some snacks.
He sees a half-eaten banana on the playground. There is a huge puddle in the middle, so he walks on the balance beam to go over it. Just as he is scurrying across the beam, he hears his name. “Josh!”
Josh turns his head to see Chip and loses his balance. He falls right into the huge muddy puddle.
Chip hurries over, laughing at the muddy rat. Josh is not happy. He does not like to be messy.
Chip says, “Maybe you can sneak into an apartment and get a bath.”
Josh agrees. He sneaks into a first-floor apartment and heads straight for the bathroom. He looks up at the big tub and realizes that he does not know how to turn on the faucet.
So he walks to the kitchen. There is a big cup full of water. But Josh thinks, “I don’t think I can fit in there. And it is so tall that I might get stuck!”
So Josh leaves the apartment and walks into the alley. Then he has an idea! He sees a lid that had fallen off of a trash can. It had turned upside down during the big rainstorm and is filled with water.
Josh belly flops into the lid full of water with a big splash. He swims around, doing the backstroke and then floating on his back. He is having so much fun!
Finally, his fur is mud-free. He hops out of the trash can lid and goes back to the park to dry off. The sun is shining brightly now. He finds a nice sunny spot on the sidewalk. He is so warm and comfy that he starts to fall asleep, with dreams of swimming in a pool of his own someday.