Decoding Words

5 Ways Beginning Readers Can Decode a Word

Storytime Standouts explains 5 ways that beginning readers can read a new word

For all beginning readers, word recognition is accomplished through

  1. Learning/memorizing sight words – also referred to as ‘Instant’, ‘Whole’, ‘Look & Say’, ‘Dolch’, &/or ‘High Frequency’
  2. Using context clues to decide on an appropriate word
  3. Applying phonics rules to decode the word
  4. Structural analysis of the word
  5. Dictionary use
Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.  Kate DiCamillo

The goal of reading instruction is to give beginning readers the skills they need to decode unfamiliar words and to turn most words into sight words.

A reader with a large sight word vocabulary is able to read more rapidly and more fluently than one whose sight word vocabulary is small. It only makes sense that a beginning reader who is able to ‘instantly’ recognize and understand the words he reads, will be faster and more fluent than a reader who must often pause in order to decode unfamiliar words.

So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well

Our early childhood learning printables, including our printables for beginning readers and writers are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to use it to access the printables.

We have organized our free, printable sight words into groups of ten (per page). Each link leads to sixty sight words

These sight word downloads can be printed and used in various ways with children who are beginning to read. Beginning readers should attempt to learn only a few new sight words at a time – certainly no more than ten. Fewer would be even better.

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind - James Russell Lowell

There are many ways to make learning sight words fun for beginning readers. Playing a memory game or bingo, for example.

I often refer to Sight Words as ‘instant Words’ – we want children to be able to read these words in a ‘flash!’ A confident reader will know them immediately. These are not words to ‘sound out’ – they occur much too often and are not necessarily phonetic (i.e. ‘the’ does not sound anything like /t/+/h/+/e/).

In addition to our free printable Sight Word lists, you will also find Sight Word practice sentences. Some of the practice sentences have blanks where you or your child fills in words or pictures. Early on, I would ask your child how she might like the sentence to end. Then, I would draw a picture or print the word. Usually, your child will be able to remember the word they chose – so, even a very difficult-to-read, multi-syllable word is fine. Your child may ask if she can ‘fill in the blank’ – a great idea!

With all this discussion about Sight Words, we do not want to overlook phonemic awareness and phonics and the role phonics plays in helping beginning readers to decode unfamiliar words and also helping children learn to spell.

Word Families for Kindergarten and Grade One –

In addition to learning sight words, beginning readers should have many opportunities to discover word families. One of the ways to introduce word families is through word family flipbooks,

How to Make Word Family Flip Books

Here is a link to ten short vowel ‘word family flip books’.

You will find two word families for each vowel: ___an, ___at, ___,ed, ___ell, ___ick, ___ing, ___op, ___ot, ___ug, and ___uck

Once your child discovers that letters can be put together to make words, it can be magical for him to realize that changing just one letter will produce a word with an altogether different meaning. Also, once you know the sound that /an/ makes, you can read seven or eight words by switching the beginning sound. This is a terrific way to bolster your child’s confidence – she didn’t just read one new word, she read eight!

Take note, in these free printable word family flipbooks, the consonants are in black, vowels are in red. This differentiation is frequently done and lays the groundwork for learning about long and short vowels.

For more than twenty free word family printables, please visit our Word Family page

Some of our Favourite Posts About Supporting Beginning Readers

Hover over the picture to read the post title. Click on the picture to read the entire post

Learning games for beginning readers
Beginning Readers should use these strategies to read difficult words
Using Environmental Print with Beginning Readers
15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime Standouts
Storytime Standouts Explains How to Help a Child Read Unfamiliar Words
9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed from
6 Ways to help a child read an unfamiliar word from Storytime Standouts
Learning about word families can help young readers as they learn to decode words

Free printable farm word match game for beginning readers

image of PDF icon  Short Vowel Word Match Game

Pictures to match with words.

Free Printable Farm Word Matching Game

Printable Short Vowel Word Matching Activity for Beginning Readers

Free printable short vowel matching game for beginning readers

image of PDF icon  Farm Animal Word Match

Simple farm-theme matching activity for beginning readers.

Our Sight Word Pinterest Boards Feature Many Ways to Make Learning Fun

Follow Storytime Standouts’ Sight Words for Children Learning to Read on Pinterest.

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