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Using Words You Know

I enjoy doing word work with my students and they benefit greatly from the practice.  One activity that I find very helpful and worthwhile doing is Using Words You know.  Have you used it?   We used colored paper this time.  It is amazing how motivating it is for the students when you change up the paper a bit! Take 3 words the students know and write them across the top of the paper. I like for students to write the chunks in red to help the chunk to stand out to them.  Then I call out other words that have the same chunk and spelling pattern and they write the new word in the column where it goes.  We say "if you can spell thing, you can spell bring"  to get them to transfer the  skill of using a word you already know to help you spell a new word.  Always trying to build on the knowledge they already have.  Then the next very important step is to write a new word, but not read it to them.  They must read the new word using the other words and chunks to help them.  You can see the space between the groups of words on the paper where we did this.  One group towards the top of the paper for helping us spell and then other words after the gap where we used the words to help us read new words.  It is all in the transfer of the skills!  Then last we use some of the words from our groups in a sentence.  The sentence can be silly or serious, but must make sense.  This is also a way to get in practice with capitals and end marks as I tell them they cannot read their sentence to me if the sentence is not written correctly.  It is amazing to me how students cannot seem to always remember to use capitalization or punctuation!  If we have time, they can do a quick sketch of their sentence.  Today though we did not have time.   This activity really builds the skill of using what you already know to spell and read other words.  And bonus, the kids think it is fun too!


  1. Great idea! My husband and I do something similar. We call it "If I can Spell". I found you through the linky party and am your newest follower! Please stop by my blog sometime :)

  2. I love word work, too! isn't it funny how they get excited over the paper?? And I even use my "cheap" construction paper for activities like this-whatever it takes??

    Peace, Love, and First Grade

  3. Our Reading Recovery teacher uses this idea a LOT! I see the kids that I have that go to her using this strategy all the time!

    I really like the idea of doing this activity on colored paper. I'll be trying it this week!

    First Grade Magic

  4. We do something very similar to this on a weekly basis. I call it an "If you know list." Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas!

    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  5. I love this! We are starting word families, so this is so timely. :)

    Sprinkles to Kindergarten

  6. Great idea- thanks for sharing!

  7. I had done this in the past, but forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me! I'm a new follower to your blog!


  8. Danielle, thanks for following me! I am following your blog now and I left you a comment. :)

  9. Laura and Megan, thanks for the comments! I love that sometimes it can be just the small change ups like colored paper to get them excited again. :)

  10. Tammy, Erica, and Julie, thanks for coming by and the kind comments! So nice to read what you have to say. :)

  11. Jenny, thank you for following me! I am now following you and left you a comment!

  12. Thank you for stopping by my blog and following me. I stopped by your blog and I was excited to see all your ideas for working with words. I needed this reminder!
    I will add you to my blog roll. I am a new follower as well.

    theverybusykindergarten :)

  13. This is great! Thanks for sharing your creative idea! I can't wait to try this in my classroom.

  14. Thank you, Sue and Kelley, so much for coming by and the nice comments!!

  15. Yes! It is all in the transfer of skills. I so agree. I attended a workshop where Patricia Cunningham (Phonics They Use, etc.) was one of the presenters. This is a big topic for her too.

    First Impressions

  16. We like to chant....
    If you can spell (A), you can spell (B),
    If you can spell (B), you can spell (C),
    If you can spell (C), you can spell (D),
    If you can spell . . .

  17. Dee, I would love to see Pat Cummingham! Have read her books and watched her videos, but have not gotten to see her. Thanks for commenting!

  18. Debra, I like that little chant! It is all in getting them to transfer and apply their skills, isn't it? :)


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