University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Word Building Sample Lesson

Word Building Sample Lesson

LEADERS Handbook of Early Literacy Strategies and Activities

All rights to the Word Building strategy are copyrighted by Dr. Isabel Beck and the University of Pittsburgh.

Organizing Letter Cards

  1. Students hand out letter cards for a, i, d, m, s and t.
  2. Students line up their cards in ABC order.
  3. You line up your cards in ABC order in the top sleeve of your pocket chart.
  4. You review the name, sound and formation of each letter with your students.

Demonstration Words

  1. Make your first demonstration word, 'had,' in your pocket chart.
  2. Tell students, "This is the word 'had.' Read the word with me: /h/..../a/..../d/.* Had." (Run your finger under each sound as it is made. Do this each time to emphasize letter-sound correspondence and blending.) *When you see / / on either side of a letter, it indicates that the sound of the letter should be said, not the letter's name.
  3. Tell students, "Now I'm going to change this word into a totally new word, just by changing one letter." Take out the a, replace it in its proper place above, take down the i, and put it in the middle of the word. Say, "This is the word 'hid.' Read the word with me: /h/...../i/..../d/. Hid."

Students Build Words

  1. Tell students, "Now, you are going to make new words. I will tell you which letters to change each time, and then you will tell me what new word we have made. Make sure that you put old letters back into their proper place in ABC order. I'm going to tell you right now that sometimes I'm not going to put a new letter into the word. Sometimes, I will tell you to make two letters in the word swap places. Or I might tell you to take out a letter without replacing it. I might even tell you to add a letter to the word without taking any letters away. So you're going to have to listen very carefully. Are you ready? Okay, let's try it."
  2. Tell students, "Here is your first word. Take down the m and put it at the beginning of the word. Take down the a and put it in the middle. Take down the d and put it at the end. What is the word?" (mad) Write mad at the top of a column on the board.
  3. For the next word, "Take the d off the end of the word and put a t in its place. What is the word?" (mat) Write it on the board under mad.
  4. "Take the m off the front of the word. What is the word?" (at) Write it on the board under mat.
  5. "Put an s before the a. What is the word?" (sat) Write it on the board.
  6. "Take the a out of the middle and put in the i. What is the word?" (sit) Write it.
  7. "Take off the s and put in an h. What is the word?" (hit) Write it.
  8. "Take out the i and put an a in its place. What is the word?" (hat) Write it.
  9. "Change the h to an m. What is the word?" (mat) Write it.
  10. "Put an s between the a and the t. What is the word?" (mast) Write it.
  11. "Change the a to an i. What is the word?" (mist) Write it.

Students Write Words

  1. Have the students read aloud the column of words from the board.
  2. Students then copy this column of words into their journals.

Silly Sentences

  1. Write the first silly sentence on the board: "Can a rat hit your cat?" Remember to underline those words which you will tell the students because they are not yet able to read these words for themselves.
  2. Tell the students that it's time for Silly Sentences. Tell them you will give them any words that are underlined, because those are words they haven't learned to read yet.
  3. Have students read the sentence aloud as you run your finger underneath it. Supply any underlined words.
  4. Talk about this sentence. Have fun with it. "Can a rat hit your cat?! What could possibly be the answer to such a silly question? Do you think that rats go around hitting cats? Can they hit your cat?"
  5. Repeat this process with the rest of the silly sentences:
    "Would a mad cat sit under a hat?"
    "Can an ant sit on a sad cat?"
    "If you had a cat, would you and the cat sit in a mist?"
    "Can a cat climb a mast?"
Return to the main Word Building page.

Resource Texts

Isabel Beck
Bringing Words to Life
The Guilford Press, 2002
Joan Novelli
40 Sensational Sight Word Games: Grades K-2
Scholastic Professional Books, 2002
Mary Rosenberg
Fun and Easy Word Building Activities: Grades K-2
Teaching Resources, Teacher Edition, 2003