Phonics Based Vocabulary Acquisition Units Bundle: Word Family Bonanzas

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The Gaming Grammarian
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The Gaming Grammarian

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    One year my middle school beginning English language learners were struggling greatly with reading. They all spoke languages with non-Latin based alphabets, and some couldn’t read in their first language either. After realizing that most of their first languages also did not place an importance on vowels, I decided to go back to the beginning and try a basic phonics approach. The result (besides huge gains on their standardized assessments) was happier students who improved their vocabulary, as well as their reading skills.

    I typically do a unit, or word family, per week, though sometimes we’d stretch it to two for the longer units that include 20 words rather than 12. We spent between 20 and 30 minutes a day on these activities, and had class five days a week. Each day we would review basic information about vowels and then the vowel sound of that week’s unit. We’d then do some reading. Often I would read a book out loud, inviting students to signal in some way whenever they heard a word that fit with the pattern we were studying that week. Then the students would read a book (list of suggested books for teacher and student reading included). Our format would vary: partner read, circle read, silent read, read & repeat… Students would complete a worksheet, and we’d do some kind of word work game or activity (suggested list included). On Friday we would do an assessment.

    When I give the assessment, I start by reading the words in random order as I would for a spelling test. Students write the words next to the correct pictures. This allows me to assess their understanding of the vocabulary, as well as the spelling of the words. Students then use their words to complete the sentences on their own.

    Word families covered in set one: AT, AN/AD, AP/AG, OG/OP/OT, EG/EN/ET, UG/UN/UT, IG/ILL/IP, r-controlled vowels, VCe (ake, ore, ine)

    Word families covered in set two: SH, CH, TH, WH, ST, QU, OI/OY, AW/AU, KN, TION

    Each unit of this product contains the following items:

    · Worksheets: cut and paste, crossword, cloze, word search, alphabetical order, scrambled words recording sheet (more information in the word work activities section), assessment

    · Sort Cards: use these for matching practice, flashcards, Memory-style games, and other activities

    · Bulletin Board Templates: I put up a new bulletin board for each word family (if you have a large bulletin board available, I recommend dividing it into two or three sections so you only have to change part of it each week). On the board I put the shapes with all of our words for the week written on them. I also have empty shapes available so the students can add words they “discover” in their readings.

    · Magnet Spelling Strips: Laminate and cut each picture strip (I recommend cold lamination as it doesn’t peel). Give each student a set of cards and metal cookie sheet, place a container of letter magnets in the center, and let students practice spelling the words.

    · Match Up Cards: These cards are specially designed to go with the match up boards my father built me (building plans available). You can use them with the boards by sliding them into the designated areas. They are self-checking in that if you turn the middle section over, the lines will line up with the rubber bands. If you choose to use them in paper format, have students use a marker to draw lines matching the picture to the word.

    · Clip It Cards: print, laminate, and cut; place a container of clothes pins (or other clips) in the center of the table, give each student a set of cards, and have them place the clip on the correct word for the picture

    Also included are:

    • word work ideas you can use with all units
    • commercial games that pair well with the units
    • book suggestions
    • Word Family Jeopardy Review Game
    • Word Family Journal for students to create their own dictionary
    • CD spinner templates for creating your own spinners
    • CD Spinner Building Directions
    • Match Up Board Building Directions

    Note: the zip folder includes two more zip folders. Each of those folders include several pdf files and one PowerPoint file. The majority of the activities are located in the pdfs entitled "New Word Family Bonanza." These particular files are over 200 pages each so you may not wish to open them on a mobile device with limited storage.

    A review game is also included for each set. Phonics Based Vocabulary Acquisition Guess the Word PowerPoint Games 1 and 2: the game must be in Present mode to work, leaving it in edit mode will reveal all of the answers. On each slide, students are shown a picture of a particular word. Students must think of all the possible words for the picture and then click on letters in the Alphabet Bank to spell the word they think is represented. Once a letter in the Alphabet Bank is clicked on, it disappears. If the letter is part of the word, it appears on the correct line of the clue/answer section. The slides are designed so if a student accidentally clicks on the picture or other part of the side, it goes nowhere. The only way to play the game is to click on the letters in the Alphabet Bank. The only way to advance to the next word is to click the Next Word button.

    The game can be played as a whole class by dividing students into teams and allowing them to take turns trying to guess the word by calling out letters (or clicking on the letters themselves if you have a smart board). Alternatively, students can play individually, in pairs, or small groups using an iPad, Chromebook, laptop, or other individual device.

    Each word has a different maximum point value. To score a word, after the word has been fully spelled out, count the number of letters in the word and the number of letters remaining in the Alphabet Bank. The total is the points to be awarded the student/team for that word. You will need to keep score in a different location (on a whiteboard or separate sheet of paper).

    Here are the directions I give students when they play individually or in small groups:

    1. Look at the image.

    2. Click on the letters to spell the term that matches the clue.

    3. If you are correct, the letter will appear on the appropriate line(s).

    4. If you are incorrect, the letter will disappear.

    5. To figure your score for each word, add up the total number of letters in the word plus the number of letters remaining in the Alphabet Bank.

    6. To proceed to the next word, click Next Word.

    7. The person with the highest score at the end of the game is the winner.

    Please note: due to animation triggers, this game will not work in Google Slides.

    For more information about this resource see the blog post Phonics Based Vocabulary Acquisition.

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    to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
    Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.
    Use conventional spelling for words with common spelling patterns and for frequently occurring irregular words.
    Spell untaught words phonetically, drawing on phonemic awareness and spelling conventions.
    Generalize learned spelling patterns when writing words (e.g., cage -> badge; boy -> boil).
    Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).


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