Week 1, Day 1

Counting words in a sentence

Activity Type: Introduce

Activity Form: Game

Grade: K

Group Size: Small Group, Whole Class

Length: 5 minutes

Materials: Ten counters in a cup for each student, overhead projector (optional)

Goal: Given a spoken sentence, the student can segment it into separate words ( "sentence" -> "word" "word" "word" ).

Items: "My name is [your name]," "Peter was off school sick," "Melissa is wearing a red sweater," etc.

What to do


1. Give each student ten counters in a cup. We're going to play a counting game. Each time I point to something, put one of your counters in front of you like this. Demonstrate putting counters one by one in a row in front of you. It may help to demonstrate by placing counters on an overhead projector so that everyone can see.

2. So let's count windows. Each time I point at a window, put a counter down in front of you. Point at windows (or, the second or third times you play this game, some other object in the room) one by one and help students place counters into a row in front of them. If students are able to count out loud as well, that's fine, but it's not essential for this activity.

3. Continue until students are able to count reliably. Count other objects in the room if necessary. If they are already bored of counting, stop here and resume the next day.

4. Did you know you can also count the words in a sentence? Put your counters back in the cup and I'll show you how. I'm going to say a sentence normally and then slowly. Here's the sentence: My name is [your name]. My...name...is...[your name]. Place a counter for each word. Now you try. Put down a counter each time I say a word. My...name...is...[your name]. Help students who are not following. You may need to model for them with their counters, then let them try as you say the sentence.

5. Good! Now put your counters back and let's try another sentence. Let's see… Choose sentences that involve the students in the group, to help keep them interested. For instance: "Peter stayed home sick." "Melissa is wearing a red shirt."

6. Gradually make the sentences more difficult by (i) increasing the number of multi-syllable words in the sentence, (ii) increasing the length of the sentence, and (iii) decreasing the pauses between words.

7. A common problem is for a student to have difficulty distinguishing a word from a syllable. When this happens, for example, with the word "wearing," ask the student if "wearing" is one word or two. It is best not to introduce the idea of syllables at this point in case you confuse students.

8. When students can count the words in a sentence you say at about normal speed, they have mastered this skill.

Related activities


Introduce onset-rime blending (Mico version): fish, fire, foot, lamb, lips, lock, meat, mix, moon, nail, nut, fox

Activity Type: Introduce

Activity Form: Standard

Grade: K

Group Size: Small Group, Whole Class

Length: 5 minutes

Materials: A hand puppet--ours is called Mico.

Goal: Given a spoken onset and rime, the student can blend them into a word ( /m/ + "at" -> "mat" ).

Items: 12 picture cards of single-syllable words (make sure only the picture is visible on each card, not the word)

What to do

1. Select 12 picture cards for this activity. Any pictures of single-syllable words will do but note that (i) students may find words beginning with continuous sounds easier than stop sounds at first; (ii) students find words with initial blends—such as frog and star—harder than words without; (ii) some teachers like to begin with sounds for which students have already learned the letter-sound correspondence (so that students are comfortable physically producing the sound); and (iv) it may help not to use too many different sounds at first.

2. First make sure students know the names of the pictures by going through the deck, asking students to name the pictures. If they come up with a name other than the one you are looking for, correct them and put the card in a separate pile. Then go through this pile and repeat until students can name all the pictures correctly.

3. Now bring out the puppet. Here’s Mico. He is having trouble speaking today and needs your help. Instead of saying a word like fish it comes out like this: fff-ish. Hold the onset for about a second and don't pause between the onset and rime.

4. Select 3 picture cards; in this example we’ll assume one of them is fox, but it can be anything you choose. My turn first. I’m going to try to figure out which of these pictures Mico wants. Fff-ox. What’s that? Fff-ox. Now I point to the picture and say the word: fox, fff-ox, fox.

5. Select three new cards, or just replace fox. Your turn: can you figure out which of these pictures Mico wants? Mmm-oon. What’s that? Mmm-oon. Which picture does Mico want? Say the word. That’s right: moon, mmm-oon, moon. Can you say it like Mico? Students: mmm-oon.

6. Continue with other sets of 3 picture cards. Watch for students who are not responding and give them an individual turn. Make sure they say the blended and segmented word (fox, fff-ox) as well as pointing at the picture.

7. If the activity is too difficult for a student, reduce the number of picture cards to 2 until the student can select the correct picture on 3 consecutive tries. Then increase the set back to 3 cards.

8. Once students have mastered the 3-card activity, increase the number of picture cards to 4, then 6, then all 12 pictures, so they are selecting 1 card from 12 on Mico’s direction.

9. Make a note in an Activity Log for students who continue to have difficulties.

Related activities

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