Hickory, Dickory, Tot

Last week, we began discussing word families and rhyming words. In the past, I have focused on different word families for a few days and then moved right on to the next few – Usually progressing through the short vowel word families.
The first day, we started discussing what it means when words rhyme and if anyone could think of rhyming words. I read I Can Read with my Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss and we showed a thumbs up if we heard any rhyming words. Following the read aloud, the –at word family was introduced. –At words tend to be easiest for students to pick up on and they immediately felt successful as we listed all the words on an anchor chart. They practiced with –at words the next two days at writing and word work centers, with books, flip charts, and word wheels.
During shared reading time, we were reading nursery rhymes. Of course, these timeless rhymes lend themselves to word families very well. Last Friday, we read through some classic rhymes on the Smart Board, such as Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill. Then, students took turns circling the rhyming words they heard.
Once the rhyming words were circled on each rhyme, the fun really began. Students were able to choose any word they wanted to replace the first rhyming word. I modeled scribbling out the original word and writing the new word on top. Each new rhyme was student generated and I did the writing. We sounded each word out together. When a rhyme was particularly difficult, we talked about nonsense words. To make a new rhyme, using a nonsense word, a student would choose a beginning letter and we would add the rime. Since we were focused on practicing with rhymes, we decided the words we came up with did not have to be real words. We made sure each word rhymed with the appropriate partner.

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After the modeling on Friday, my students asked this morning if we could do silly nursery rhymes again today. Of course, I said yes. I pulled up the slides from Friday and erased the rhymes we created. This time, the students were in charge of coming up with a rhyme and writing it on the smart board. This activity proved to be enjoyable once again. A student even reminded a friend that nonsense words were ok – we are focused on rhyming!


Humpty Dumpty sat on a brig(j)
Humpty Dumpty had a great thig(j)
All the King’s horses
And all the King’s babes
Couldn’t put Humpty together zabes


Little Boy Blue
Come blow your shoo
The sheep’s in the meadow;
The cow’s in the boo
Where is the boy who looks after the donut
He’s under a haystack, fast blonut”

*The student who contributed donut was thrilled as he often shouts out donut as an inappropriate answer and this time it was ok.


Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of dogs
Jack fell candy cane
and broke his ane
And Jill came tumbling ogs

We will continue working on word families and writing well past our holiday break. Being able to apply this new skill to familiar text helps the students make connections. The use of nonsense words helps them feel successful. We have more activities to come… Writing our own rhymes and creating word family displays with our iPads. Stay tuned!

For more fun with familiar rhymes and songs check out Alen Katz’s and Bruce Lansky’s popular books:

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Filed under Literacy, Mentor Text, Reading Workshop, Uncategorized, Writing Workshop

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