Playing daily word games can really help students discover and utilize the relationships of letter and spelling patterns. I recently ran across a great website
Games help our learners develop skill proficiency. A good game will challenge thinking and require the player to strategize. Here are a few of my favorite games for children learning phonics AND for older students who haven't developed their encoding and decoding proficiency.
Big Word Meltdown-The goal of this game is to make as many words as you can using only the letters in the big word. Choose a word that contains 9-15 letters. I like to choose science, social studies, or holiday words. Challenge your students to create small words using only the letters from the big word. The person or team who makes the most words wins.
Are you playing Wordle? This game was created by Josh Wardle for his crossword-loving partner. I’m obsessed! It’s the best digit game to come out since this type of entertainment became popular. It demands strategic thinking as you guess the word in six (or fewer) tries. You have to utilize your knowledge of how words work. There’s no way to binge the game, as there is only one posted game per day. It is just enough to help you exercise the gray matter and then move on. Best of all, when you guess the word you have a reason to celebrate. We need more celebration in our life!
As an educator, I always try to evaluate game based on how they can benefit students. Games are a tool for building fluency. Fluency is defined as automaticity and/or controlled processing. When first learning a skill, our brains must make sense of the skill. When should I use the skill? What are the steps of this skill? The more feedback we get as we learn the skill, the quicker our efforts can improve. This feedback is really just good coaching!
If I had to pick one multi-level strategy that builds my students’ decoding and spelling fluency activity to do weekly, I’d pick “Making Words” the Pat Cunningham strategy. I first started using this strategy with my 1st and 2nd graders in 1994. I have adapted Cunningham’s versions just a tad to include explicit practice in phonemic awareness. This strategy is a great cumulative review of the systematic sequence of learning letter sounds and patterns. It really helps struggling students, especially those who may be at risk for dyslexia, to see the impact of the vowel placement within a syllable or a word. The tactile nature and higher order thinking that is required helps the decoding and spelling knowledge to stick.