Standards and Objective
As children’s phonics skills advance, they will begin to notice that there are many exceptions to the standard rules, such as words with silent letters. This activity will help introduce the concept of how silent letters impact the pronunciation and spelling of words.
- A whiteboard or flipchart
- Index cards
- The Ant and The Crumb
- Knock, Knock Song
- Knock Knock Knock (Song)
After having listened to a story, such as The Ant and The Crumb, write the word “crumb” on board where everyone can see it. Tell children that this is a word we just heard in the story and ask them to sound it out with you: krrumm-b. Try it again, faster: krum-b. Ask children if that is right. Did they hear that word in the story? The word heard in the story wasn’t crum-b; it was crumb. The letter b is silent in this word.
Try another word. The spider knew the ant could move the crumb. Write the word knew and ask children to sound it out. Which letter do they think is silent? Continue with other words, such as limb, wrap, calf, wrong, gnat.
Understanding that silent letter spellings keep the sound of one consonant (kn-, wr-, -mb) takes study and practice. Provide index cards or cut paper so that children can make a card for each of the words discussed with the group, noting silent letters by underlining or using a different color for the letter. Encourage students to use these cards (and plan to add to them) to practice fluency of silent-letter words.
In the story, the ant thought the crumb to be huge and much too large to move without help. Have children imagine what it would be like to be as small as an ant and ask them to think from the ant’s perspective. From an ant’s point of view, almost everything is huge because the ant is so small. From a human perspective, a crumb and an ant both seem very small. Have children brainstorm a list of items that seem very small to them, but would be large to an ant. Ask them to include these items in stories that they write told from an ant’s point of view.
Extensions and Variations
As children become more familiar and practiced with words containing silent letter spellings, create a word search puzzle that includes these words. Instead of including a list of words for them to find in the word search, say each word aloud several times and give children a chance to find words based on their listening skills and their study of silent letters.
Phonics is an instructional approach where emerging readers “sound out” words. The new readers learn to associate letters or letter groups with the sounds they represent, and pronounce the word these sounds create, essentially building a word using sounds. Listening has always been an integral part of learning to read, and Tales2go storytellers speak those letter sounds on all grade levels. The catalog includes titles for those reading and listening at a preschool level, up to a high school level of instruction, and even audio books for parents or teachers. Hearing those sounds that make up words pronounced appropriately and clearly simplifies the process of learning those letter sounds. The emerging reader is then using phonics to build a variety of new words, deepening their understanding of language, literature, and text.