Word study is the learning of and practice with word patterns that lead the children to discover how to spell words! Words they are studying and words with similar patterns that they encounter in text and in the world around them. Or, to put it into “edu-speak,” through an explicit, multi-sensory approach, they are learning to decode or spell hundreds or thousands of words based on word structure expectancies within predictable patterns and syllable types, rather than memorizing a finite number of spelling words each week.
For example, they will recognize that a vowel has to have a reason to say its name (or long sound). One way this is done, is through words pairs that illustrate changes in the word when the vowel goes from its short sound to its name (and the associated memory phrases, rhymes, or gestures that go with these expectancies). Below are some basic word pairs that illustrate this:
Generally, first graders are learning to read these words, second graders are learning to spell and apply them and other expectancies to multi-syllable words (i.e., inflate), and third graders are mixing patterns, expectancies, and syllable types for decoding unfamiliar words and for spelling practice. Children will be working at a more supported, typical, or accelerated pace depending on their individual needs.
First grade families, be watching your Friday folders for word games to play with your child!