Word chains are a simple and effective phonemic awareness activity where students sound swap their way through a series of words. Word chains offer practice with blending, segmenting, and phoneme manipulation. In this post, I am sharing a new resource: Word Chains for Reading Skills.
How Do Word Chains Work?
To begin, word chains are a wonderful oral task where the teacher directs students through exercises such as “Say cat.” Students: “cat” Teacher: “Change /c/ to /h/.” Students: “hat”
Once students have had plenty of oral practice with sound manipulation, word chains can be done with physical objects, letter manipulatives, whiteboards, or paper and pencil. It is important to note that sound swapping develops phonemic awareness skills but should only be done once students have automatic recall of letters and sounds.
Word Chains for Reading Skills
Phonemic awareness is one of the most accurate predictors of reading difficulties. Word chains as a part of a phonics program help ensure that students continuously have this important skill practice.
Ways to Use Word Chains
To use these word chains, the teacher can use the given lists to lead students in whole group or small group sound swapping. Word chains can be done as a warm-up, targeted phonics practice within a lesson, or during teacher-led small group instruction. Another way to incorporate word chains for reading skills is to put laminated sets out as a literacy station activity. Because there are 100 different word chain lists, this is a station that grows with students through the year. It fits many different levels and abilities of readers.
More Phonics Resources
To continue the learning with phonics, we have this post. Our Flip Up Phonics resource for printable and digital phonics activities begins with short vowel CVC words and progresses through the stages of phonics development to vowel teams. These resources fit perfectly together in a phonics-rich reading block.