Working on letter naming, letter sound, and nonsense word fluency with games are sometimes essential to boost student confidence and letter/sound recognition. Finding games that students enjoy can be difficult to come by.
Fluency as the Reading Success Indicator
Research shows that teaching letter names and increasing a child’s letter naming fluency actually increases sound knowledge. In addition, knowledge of the shapes of letters is equally as important! When I am teaching letter names, the formation of the letters goes hand-in-hand. We always discuss the long and short lines, big and small curves, tail letters, tall letters, and letters with holes. Once children begin to recognize these features, letter naming comes much more easily.
When a Student Scores Low on Letter Naming Fluency
Sometimes, children may know all of their letter names, but score low on letter naming fluency assessments. This, in fact, has been something I’ve seen more prominent this school year. Looking back through my plans, I found them rich in letter naming and letter sound activities. I even had activities on letter sound fluency, but somehow, letter naming wasn’t a dominant feature. It happens to the best of us, but I did not have enough activities and small groups focused on this important skill. I did a lot of letter naming, which they rocked, but fluency, not as much.I searched for some fun games and just couldn’t find exactly what I needed; fun, engaging, motivating, and could self-track growth. Insert Differentiated Letter Races!
Let the Games Begin
I really wanted something that could be used all year as children moved from letter naming, to letter sounds, and then nonsense words. I needed children to see their own growth. And I needed them to be engaged, moving, and having fun! Letter Races does just that! It is a fun game using magnetic letters or other letters spread out in random order on a surface, along with a timer. I love using one minute sand timers! You can also have everyone start and stop at the same time with a class timer. I find that the small group enjoys watching the sand disappear and watching in anticipation!
Next, have the children wait sitting to watch and monitor sand or other timer. Last, start the timer and child names as many letters, sounds, or nonsense words as they can in one minute. Taking down known letters and setting into a pile. Tally them up and color the graph for that round. Then, it is the next child’s turn. There are 3 rounds in total! I love using this in my small group and with helpers!
The graphs are leveled for each fluency target; letter naming, letter sounds, and nonsense words. I use my current data to decide who is in what group. I keep the names together on a planning for with sticky notes that are color coordinated with the group car colors so I can see if a child has moved up or down. I progress monitor monitor my strugglers, so it is easy to see if they are increasing with fluency!
When a child moves up, it is very exciting and time for celebrations! These kiddos work hard to make progress. With a little bit of help, motivation, and some good old fun, your students will be sipping through fluency activities in no time! Click download below for product!