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.

What is Word Chaining?

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

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

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.

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:

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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