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February, 2011

Dear Literacy Place for the Early Years Teacher,

This month's tip is a response to an email from a grade 2 teacher who wants to know: Do you have any ideas about introducing high-frequency words to my students?

Since students encounter high-frequency words daily during any activity involving reading and writing, it is important for them to develop automatic recall of these words. To provide students opportunities for solid learning, it is recommended you give special attention to approximately five high-frequency words each week. Challenge words may be added for students who need more advanced words. Use the High-Frequency Words List at the back of the Working with Words Guide to locate a list of grade appropriate words. From this list, select words that are of immediate use to your students. These words should relate to materials you are reading in Shared and Guided Reading or increase students' fluency in writing.

In the Working with Words Guide, you will find easy-to-follow lessons to introduce and practice weekly words. Use the high-frequency word cards (available on the password protected site) to visually cue students. These can be placed in a pocket chart during the week and then added to your classroom word wall for further reference. Promote learning by incorporating auditory and tactile experiences with the words. Physical movement is important and helps maintain students' focus. The following chants and cheers are fun and active ways to engage students in practising high-frequency words.

Fun Chants for High-Frequency Words

How to Do It:
Mouse Talk - say the letters with your squeaky voice
Witchy Voice - say the letters with a cackling, witchy voice
Loud and Soft - say the letters and word with a loud voice
- next say the letters and word with a whisper voice (whisper seems to settle the group after being silly with a loud voice)
Nose It - hold your nose and spell the word
Beat It - beat out each letter on your desk
Cheer It - say the letters like a cheerleader (e.g., give me an "a", etc.)
- start with a whisper and then get progressively louder with each letter
- explode when you say the word at the end
Snap and Clap - snap the vowels
- clap the consonants
Marshmallow Clap - say the letter and do an 'almost' clap (stop the clap just before your hands touch)
Slow Motion - hold the sound of each letter for a second or two
Movie Star Kisses - put your hands to your mouth
- as you say each letter, blow a kiss (like Marilyn Monroe at the Oscars)
Chicken - fold arms up to make wings and move head back and forth as you say each letter
Action Letters - squat for short letters that sit on the line (a, c, e)
- stretch on tippy toes for tall letters (b, t, l)
- squat to the floor with leg out for letters that go below the line (y, g, j)
Text It - use thumbs on both hands to motion typing each letter as you say it
Raise the Roof - push up towards the ceiling, one push for each letter
Throw the Stars - throw one hand at a time up toward the ceiling for each letter
Robot Voice - use a robotic voice and move arms back and forth as you say each letter
Pump It Up - pretend to be lifting weights, one rep for each letter—strain to get each letter up
- pretend to place the barbell on the stand and sound exhausted as you say the word at the end
Dribble and Shoot - dribble the letters and shoot the word
Motorcycle Menace - hang onto pretend handle bars and do wheelies for each letter
Stomping - stomp out each letter with your foot
Tigger Bounce - squat and bounce up and down for each letter (just like Tigger)
Alligator Clap - hold arms straight out with your fingers curled to make the alligator's teeth
- open and close your arms, clapping hands together for each letter
Blast Off - start crouched on the floor and as you say each letter, get a little higher
- jump into the air at the end as you say the word
Frog Jumps - begin by standing up and as you say each letter, crouch down a little further
- jump forward as you say the word
Back Tracer - trace each letter on the back of the person in front of you (best done in a circle formation so that everyone has a back to trace on)
* good strategy for teaching dyslexic students—they can feel the letters
Pat It - pat your head for tall letters
- pat your stomach for short letters
- pat your knees for the letters that extend below the line
Hula - place your hands on your hips and swivel for each letter
- wave your hands in the air when you say the word
Jumping Jacks - jump out and back for each letter in the word
Toe Touches - lean forward and touch your toes for each letter in the word
Frisbee - pretend to throw out each letter Frisbee style
Swim It - swim each letter as it is said aloud
- hold your nose and sink down at the end when you say the word
*adapted from Four Block Literacy Framework by Cunningham and Hall

Happy teaching,
Sue Jackson signature
Sue Jackson
National Literacy Consultant
Scholastic Education Canada