Over the years, I've learned a thing or two from Patricia Cunningham. This post is about one of my favorites. I love the way this activity teaches young readers how to use strategies when they read. Follow along and see what I mean.
1. I put this sentence on the board and ask the kids to read it with me, inserting the word "blank" at the end.
2. I tell them that their goal is to figure out the mystery word, but it has to make sense and sound right. Volunteers give me suggestions, but I make sure they read the sentence and insert their word so we can all hear if it makes sense and sounds right. If it does, I write their word on the board. For lack of time, I only take four suggestions.
3. Of course, I then tell them that readers are never guessers. (Actually, I say, "Readers are never..." and they finish my sentence. That's how often they've heard me say this.) They have to get their mouth ready, so I uncover the first letter of the mystery word. One at a time, I ask them if we could keep each word that has been suggested. "Does it look right?" I erase any that don't look right.
5. Before uncovering the rest of the mystery word I say, "Lots of words begin the same..." and they say, "...but they don't end the same" in order to reinforce how similar words can be. In order to figure out the mystery word they have to get their mouths ready and slide to the end. As I uncover one letter at a time, they make the sounds and then read the mystery word. In this particular instance they didn't guess the mystery word, but they used some great strategies to figure it out!
I pretty much do one of these a day until every name in my class has been used. I use various sentence starters.
After several days, I also use mystery words that start with blends and digraphs.
Twenty-three times over they hear the same strategies repeated in a meaningful context. (What's more meaningful than their names?) I've made a list of the many strategies that they hear over and over through this one activity. Talk about getting a lot of bang for your buck!
Does it make sense?
Does is sound right?
Does is look right?
Get your mouth ready.
Slide to the end.
Look at the whole word.