Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Are Nonsense Words more Than Just Nonsense?

I'm going to be honest here, I'm not 100% sure I have a definitive answer to that question.  This is one of those items that I truly see both sides to the argument.

On one hand, being able to decode words according to phonics rules and to recognize chunks inside of words are both important skills.  Sometimes it's hard to tell if a student is decoding correctly when they have a high vocabulary and have a lot of sight words.

On the other hand, reading is all about making meaning out of the text and there just isn't any meaning in the words dop, lum and vab.

I've discovered that nonsense words is something that people tend to feel very passionate about.

For me, the argument is moot because assessing students on nonsense words is a state mandated assessment for me.  I may not like it, but I have to do it.

Since I have to do it, I need to prepare my students for it.  That means lots of phonics instruction and teaching how to decode words and chunk parts of words.

I choose to do this through word families.  When I teach and practice word families, I use real words and nonsense words. This gives students practice decoding, practice chunking AND practice with nonsense words.

When I taught Kindergarten, I started working on word families around November or December, based on where my students were.  I created this CVC Fluency packet to use in small groups.  Every week, students would work on one word family.  We would practice blending the words and sorting them into Real Word or Nonsense Word categories.  Then we would play the board game to practice chunking the words.


As a Second Grade teacher, my needs have changed, but not completely.  I still have students who struggle with decoding CVC words.  Since they have learned, but not mastered, the concept of a closed syllable, I still use this activity.  Depending on the needs, sometimes I use multiple word families with the same middle vowel or sometimes I mix them up.  




The great news is that my Second Graders have as much fun as my Kindergarteners did!

You can find this activity at my TPT store by clicking here or on any of the pictures!

Do you have to work with nonsense words? Where do you fall on the argument? I would love to hear your thoughts!  Drop me a line and let me know!

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