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Incorporating Science of Reading and looking for hands-on learning ideas?

Word chaining activities are a staple in our literacy learning, but we had to make a few adjustments to make sure it was accessible to all students.

Word Chaining activities for small groups and centers

What is a Word Chain?

Word chaining involves looking at the relationship between words. Traditionally this is a phonemic awareness activity with learners focused on the phonemes (only one sound).

As a phonemic awareness activity, we wouldn't be looking at the letters, but instead chaining the words together by substituting sounds. It could technically be called sound chaining!

For this example, the teacher may say:

  • Repeat after me: “sit
  • Change the /a/ to /i/. What's the new word? “sip
  • Awesome! Now change the /s/ to /t/. What's the new word? “tip
  • You've got it! Change the /o/ to /i/. What's the new word? “top
  • Wonderful word work!

This is a fun word play activity to use as a quick warm-up. From my experience, it's worked well to do 2-3 word chains every day versus a long lesson focused only on phoneme substitution.

Visual Supports for Differentiation

I noticed several students needing a bit more visual support to “see” the change from word to word, so I set out to provide more concrete examples:

It's important to note: adding text support turns this activity into a phonics lesson, but that seemed to be just the “lightbulb moment” my students needed. You could even have them write words and see if they can create their own word chains!

Now my students could SEE the relationships between words and how they change:

Amazing, right?

If you're interested in learning more about differentiating word work centers for your students, check out this teacher training at the Positively Learning YouTube Channel:

Ready to get started TODAY?

Check out the Word Chaining Hands-On Center here:

Be sure to “link up” 😁 and let me know how these tips work for you!

Hi there.

I'm Jennifer!

I’m Jennifer and I was a special educator in the elementary school setting over the past decade. I entered the classroom every day dedicated to making learning inclusive AND engaging.

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