Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Phonological Awareness-Word Chunks

Word Chunks...a fun way to say syllables.  It's a part of the segmenting concept that was mentioned in the previous post. Teaching children to be aware of syllables will be a skill that will help them more quickly decode a word when they are reading.  Therefore, they will be more accurate and fluent in their reading.  We do word chunks informally throughout the day.  During our calendar we "clap out" the month name, we clap our hands or slap our thighs when we work with our vocabulary cards. (Remember to use pictures as often as possible when working with our young learners!)  Maybe I'll mention something about our vocabulary cards at this point. 

The Montessori method has an activity they call nomenclature cards.  I simply call them vocabulary cards.  Here is a free printable for you to check out.
There are quite a few nomenclature cards free printables from various Montessori affliates.  They are relatively easy to make on your own as well.  I've made them to fit specific themes I had planned.  What I do is laminate two sets.  One is a control set and the word and picture are left together.  With the other set, you cut the word off.  At the beginning the children match the picture to the control card and then match the word.  When they master that skill, you set the control set aside and the child matches the word to the picture and then checks their work with the control set.  How do I use these with syllable activities?  I often work with the children to clap out each word and we sort them into 4 columns.  1, 2, 3, 4+ syllables.  So not only are they learning new vocabulary, but they are learning that there are letters put together to spell/say that word and also practicing listening to how many chunks are in the word.  (You can also use them for beginning sound review).

The One Little Sound CD by Hap Palmer that has been mentioned twice already also has a "How Many Chunks?" song on it.:-)  Can you tell I like this CD? 

Here's a song for you!

Tune:  Did You Ever See a Lassie
Can you count how many word chunks,
The word chunks, the word chunks.
Can you count how many word chunks
You hear in this word?  (zebra-2)

You can incorporate word chunking/segmenting activities at snack long as you don't have an issue with "playing with your food"!  Candy is a treat here so sometimes I use candy such as M&M's or something similar.  But you can use crackers, cereal bits, and so on.  Give them 4 to start out with.  Then go through a series of words (use pictures with the words for those younger ones) that vary from 1 syllable to 4 syllables.  You can even make a mat on their napkin if you wish (4 boxes),  Then have them place one food item in each box each sound they hear.  So for umbrella, they'd have a food item in 3 boxes.  um- brel- la. A snowman activity I did once was to provide each child with a snowman mat.   You can create it out of construction paper or even craft foam.  You can also use snowman themed notepad paper.  I used small candies for the children to put on their snowmen for buttons.  Then I went through a series of winter themed words cards with pictures.  Of course, letting them eat the candy was the highlight, but they got the practice I wanted them to have!

Do you have a set of steps going up into your house?  Make use of them!  Say a word and then with your child say the word again taking a step up for each syllable (or for when you are segmenting the phonemes of a word).  You can also have the child jump or bounce a ball for each syllable.  Some children learn best by "doing".  We call these children kinesthetic learners.  You'll find children who are prominently auditory learners will pick up word chunks/segmenting very quickly. 

Here is a picture of an activity from Pre-K Pages (  I have done this type of activity before...but had used white rectangles to represent envelopes with pictures vs. hearts.  Either way works.
I also had purchased my mailboxes at the Target dollar aisle.    This website also has various free printables, including syllable picture cards you can print.  The link to this specific activity is  But do check out her many categories.  This is one of the sites under "favorites" for me.

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