Sunday, February 4, 2018

Five Tips To Teach High Frequencey Words

One of the most important skills in reading, yet also very challenging, is memorizing high frequency words.  Kindergarten and first grade students need a lot of practice with activities that will keep them engaged and motivated to learn the most common words that they will see in their reading.

A great place to really focus on these words is in your small group, guided reading time.  Many teachers have found that spending 4-5 minutes a day can help students commit these words to memory.  Here are 5 activities that I do each day with my small groups.


Flash cards can be a great way to begin your lesson.  Choose 5-6 high frequency words that you will be working on for the week.  Flip through your stack of words and flash a different word to each student in your small group.  Go around your group and through the stack 2-3 times, making sure that no child reads the same word twice.  Pay attention to which words the children are struggling with and choose one word to focus on that day.


This is a great activity that I discovered when reading The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader by Jan Richardson.  After you have chosen your focus word for the day, write it on a dry erase board and show it to your small group.  Talk to them about the letters in the word and encourage them to really look at the letters in the word.  Tell them to put the word in their head because you are going to erase a letter.

Next, turn the board away from the students and erase one letter.  Show it to the group and call on one student to tell you what letter is missing.  Turn the board again and erase another letter.  Call on a different child to tell all the letters that are missing. Keep going until the entire word is erased and one student spells the word by memory.  


Next, give each child a tray of magnetic letters to use for this activity.  Dollar stores are a great source for inexpensive magnetic cookie sheets and you can grab magnetic letters here: Educational Insights AlphaMagnets- Color-Coded Lowercase (42 pieces).

Direct the students to remove the letters needed to practice the focus word for the day.  Have the students spell the word with the magnetic letters, saying the letters out loud as they spell the word.  This gives them auditory, visual and tactile clues.

Next, tell the students to mix the letters and then fix it.  Do this twice.


Give each child a dry erase board, marker and eraser.  Have the students write the focus word on the board.  Say each letter out loud as they write.  Do this twice.


Last, direct students to use their finger to "write" the focus word on the table top.  This is another great tactile activity.  The tactile sensation will help the students remember what the word looks like.  

Spending just a few minutes at the beginning of each small group with these 5 activities will help your students memorize their high frequency words.  Each activity should last only a minute or less.  All 5 of these activities should take no more than 5 minutes of your small group time.  It's a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck!