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 (1 MINUTE)
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.
WHAT’S MISSING? (1 MINUTE)
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.
MIX IT, FIX IT (1 MINUTE)
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.