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.
- Letter Story and Digraph Story: Students hear Letter Stories read-aloud for vowel letters and digraphs. (Note: Letter Stories for consonants can be used during Small Group Differentiated Instruction or other times.) This underscores the importance and challenge of continually practicing vowel and digraph sounds and provides another mnemonic through which students can commit them to memory.
- Getting to Know the Letters (Part 1): Students "meet" each new letter for the cycle, exploring the following about each: its name (grapheme), its sound(s) (phoneme), and a consistent keyword that represents the letter. This practice includes a Letter-Sound chant component (see Opening Instructional Practices for more details), using only the newly introduced letters.
- 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.
- 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.
- Poem Letter Search: Students explore the already introduced cycle poem for a new purpose: to search for specific letters.
- Getting to Know the Letters (Part 2): Students use the same letters as in Part 1, but now get to know the shape and formation of each, practicing first with their bodies and then on paper.
- Poem: Articulatory Gestures: Students use articulatory gestures to support their learning of letters from the current cycle. The teacher might provide students (or partners) hand mirrors to see their mouth movements as they pronounce each phoneme.
- 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.
Question Cards: Students review skills taught in the first two modules with a fun card game.
- 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.
In Modules one and two, kindergarteners work with spoken words and sounds as they learn the primary sound for each consonant and short vowel. The following lists provide examples of words that contain sounds taught in this cycle, found in the initial or final position of the word and can be used in spoken form or written form for more advanced readers.
The last five are words with two and three phonemes. Students who are able to segment individual sounds within written and spoken VC (vowel, consonant) and CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words can use words from this list (or similar). Note that this list may contain some sounds that have not yet been introduced. 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.
I looked in my camera, and what did I see?
Two African animals looking back at me.
A zebra with a bushy mane and an elephant on the plain.