Follow these tips for successful high-frequency word instruction:
– Make sure students read text containing high-frequency words every day. Almost all text contains these words, but the most rewarding reading will come from books students can read easily.
– Create a word wall of high-frequency words. Add new words to the wall as they are introduced. Each day, students can chant or cheer the high-frequency words posted on the wall.
– Introduce words in small groups of six to eight words or fewer per week. It may be beneficial to present words in phonetic groups (this, that, they, the, those, there; big, but, by, best, both, etc.).
– Allow students to write the words as often as possible. They may practice individual words or write high-frequency word sentences such as “I like to _____,” or “We go by the _____.”
– Keep a checklist of high-frequency words. When a student has memorized a word, meaning he or she can read it without decoding or write it without seeing the word, check the word off and move on to the next word.
– Use everyday text, including textbooks, storybooks, poetry, articles, worksheets, and posters, to identify high-frequency words. Keep highlighters handy to practice while doing other lessons.
These activities can make learning high-frequency words engaging and fun.
Each student can keep a word book at his or her desk. Folded and stapled construction or white paper, pencils, and crayons are all that is required. Students can write their names on the covers and decorate their books. As students encounter high-frequency words, they will add them to their books. They may use the books as a reference when reading new texts.
Invite students to be high-frequency word detectives. They can locate assigned words in the classroom or school environment and in print materials they encounter in their daily lives.
Make and Break
Use plastic letters to make and break high-frequency words. Distribute the appropriate letters to all students in the group. Write the high-frequency word on the board and have students use it as a model to make the word with their plastic letters. Have students read the word. Then, erase the word from the board. Have students scramble their plastic letters and try to build the word again. Speak the word as they do so, separating it into phonemes if necessary. Have students read the word they have made to check that it is correct.
Almost any simple game can be slightly modified to accommodate high-frequency word instruction. Bingo is a consistent favorite. Bingo cards can be downloaded from a link on the high-frequency word book pages (one set of 24 bingo cards for each set of books). While playing bingo, as you call out each word, monitor students to ensure that they recognize the high-frequency words and place chips on them when appropriate. Other simple games that can help teach words include common favorites like hangman.
Create flashcards for the high-frequency words in your lesson. It may be helpful to create your word wall from these versatile, movable cards. Flashcards can accommodate any number of fun activities:
– Memory: Create two of each high-frequency word card. Lay the cards face down on the floor. Students take turns trying to match identical words. The student with the most pairs wins.
– Funny Voices: Flash the cards to students, and have each student read a word in a robot voice, an old voice, a squeaky voice, and a monster voice.
– Swat!: Divide students into two teams, each standing on one side of the word wall. Give the first student in each team a flyswatter. Read a word from the word wall. The first team to swat the word gets a point. The swatter then passes the flyswatter to the next team member.