Teacher Toolbox
Learning Strategies - Reading


Decoding refers to the child’s ability to link the sounds to the letter or letter patterns to decipher unknown words. As children become proficient with recognizing letters and associating their sounds to letters, then activities that focus on word building can be implemented.

  • To help notice similarities and differences among words, have children write as many words that contain a word family as they can.  After they generate words, have them read the words, circle the differences among the words and underline the patterns of words in their list. This will help children to recognize onsets and rhymes.
  • Incorporate writing activities to provide opportunities for students to link sound to print and words to meaning. 
  • Making Words: Multilevel, Hands-on Developmentally Appropriate Spelling and Phonics Activities by Patricia Cunningham has useful exercises to help children explore how words change when letters and sounds in words are altered. 
  • Play games like hangman to teach specific word strategies and generalizations. For example, when selecting letters, point out that every word must have a vowel. Games like hangman provide opportunities to work with spelling and the general guidelines of word structure.
  • Play Scrabble, Jr. or Scrabble This will encourage children to think and to generate words as well as provide spelling practice.
  • Teach students specific strategies to decode words. Have students use scripted analogies or key words to identify patterns that can be used in recognizing other words that contain the same pattern. The Word Detective Program developed by Irene Gaskins directs children to use analogies such as, "if I know cat, then I know sat" to recognize the relationships among words to support decoding. 
  • Direct students to locate smaller words within larger words.
  • Have students learn to recognize common endings such as –ing, -ed, and separate the endings from the root or base word.