Short o and Sight Word Play

ALuv is finishing up his study of short o words.  Yes, it has taken us quite some time to get through them.  We have taken short breaks here and there; which has been refreshing.  I also didn’t get pictures of some of the stuff I wanted to post about, but oh well!

After posting all the pictures, it seems it’s about time to take all the fake tatoos off his arms!  🙂


He re-matches the words and pictures multiple times from the Words Their Way sort.  Once we do this together a couple of times, I expect him to do it independently. 

Playing with his Tag Short o reader

spelled short o words with bottle caps, like we did here

checking his answer on the back

sorting/building -op & -og frogs

revisiting his Word Study notebook (for explanation, click here) after gluing down his short o words and pictures from his word sort


Currently, I am introducing an average of only 1 word wall word a week (it is summer), but we review all of them quite often.  I will probably only still do 2-3 a week, beginning in August; then bump it up to maybe 4-5 a week in January.  I would rather he learn them slowly and thoroughly than quickly and only half way.  He already knows about 1/3 of the sight words I taught in Kindergarten.

Here are some ways we’ve played with our sight words:

unscrambling sight words (letters are made from sentence strips)  This one was his favorite!

spelling with magnetic letters

Built words using this idea.  I made two sets out of foam and added a couple pieces of my own to make lower case building easier.  I’ll share those once I draw them out.

Reading, reading, and more reading- I love this picture!


…and measuring (in train cars) our weekly Bible Verse.  I adapted this idea from here.

Here is the list of verses he will learn this summer.  He gets to do something “special” with mommy or daddy each time he memorizes 5 verses.

For more Word Play ideas, remember you can visit and link up to this awesome list from 1+1+1=1.


O What Fun!

Here are some more things we did with short o:

1. We re-matched the words and pictures.  The 2nd time he re-matched pictures and words, I helped.  But after that, I expected him to do it with minimal help from me.

3. We played Concentration or Memory Match

The words are on the left side and the pictures on the right side.  The pictures also have the word written in small print to make this game self-checking.

A match!

Just a side note: I used this green short o memory match set when I taught public school.  I also have another set exactly like this one that is printed on orange construction paper.  That way, I could place both sets in the same Ziploc bag at a center.  If I had 6 students playing short o memory match at the same time, 3 students could easily pull and play with the green set, while the other 3 students could play with the orange set.  I used this color system a lot with small group games to make it easy to identify and divide up sets.

4. We built words with Legos.

I organized the words in the sort (adding hog) so that he only had to change one letter at a time to make each new word.  We first built dog together.  I asked, “Can you change one letter in dog to make dot?”  This is a great phonemic awareness skill (a part of phonological awareness) because he had to listen for the individual sounds in each word to figure out how to spell the new word.

5. We went on a short o Word Hunt.

He read I Can Hop from (I don’t currently have a membership, but the books are downloaded on my computer) and found and colored all the OT and OP words.

Here are the words I pulled out before reading the text.

I remembered as a child sometimes coloring in all the o‘s on the church bulletin during the sermon, so instead of highlighting the words, I thought he’d like to color in the o‘s (OT words in yellow and OP words in pink).  This was also a great way to continue working on his fine motor skills; which he has yet to master.

Ride Over the Word

I had planned on posting today about all the things we did this week to work on short o words, but I needed space to write about our absolute favorite way to play with short o…ALuv called it RIDE OVER THE WORD.

ALuv has recently learned how to ride his bike without training wheels, and to say he’s addicted would be an understatement!

As you can see, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!

So, I wrote some short o words on our driveway and cul-de-sac.

I called out a word and he had to find the word &  ride his bike over it.

I was surprised at how long he stuck with this game.  After I had called out all the words, he begged to do it again…and again!  It’s a good thing we did it early in the morning before the temps were too high!

At first, NJoy ran around finding and jumping on letters; mostly his beloved o.

Then he wanted me to call out words for him, too.  I was shocked when he walked up to the word stop and said, “S-T-O-P.  Mommy, that spells stop.”

He then proceeded to decorate the words with his own sidewalk chalk creations.  What fun!

MBug sat in the stroller and as I pushed her around, she cheered for ALuv as he found the words I called.

There are several reasons why this reading mama really like this game:

  • Sidewalk chalk washes off by itself when it rains!  And that’s a good thing because if you don’t have room in your neighborhood, you could do this at a park or low-traffic parking lot.
  • It integrated some great exercise (all except for little MBug).
  • There’s so much flexibility in this game.  You could write the basic ABC’s, numbers, shapes, etc. on the pavement.  Instead of riding a bike, your child could run and jump (like NJoy did) or bounce a ball on top of the object.

I’ve got it in my mind to write some sight words outside soon and let ALuv ride over the word!


After spending a few months in short a word family land :), ALuv and I moved onto short o word families.  This introduction came a day or so after we did this sort with short a and short o pictures.

This sort comes from Word Sorts for Letter Name-Alphabetic Spellers.  It contains 3 short o word families (OP, OT & OG).  I didn’t know if ALuv would be ready to do three, but I thought we’d at least give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The thing I like about these resources from Words Their Way is that they have notes for the teacher (or mama) in the front on how to introduce and practice each of the sorts.

The first thing we did was a rhyming sort with all the pictures.

Next, I laid out all the words and he matched words with the pictures.

We went back through each column and talked about how the rhyming words all had “the same last name” (as my mom says) or pattern.

I mixed all the words up again and ALuv re-matched them.

The last thing we did was read Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson, finding all the OG words.

As we were finishing up the lesson, he asked me, “Are you going to put this lesson on your blog?”  But before I could answer, he said, “Hey, that’s an OG word-blog!”  Yep, he got it!

-at hat slider

I said I’d post my -at hat slider what seems like forever ago to go with this lesson.  Thank you for to my WONDERFUL husband for solving the scanning issue with our printer!

You can make this activity more difficult by whiting out the onsets I’ve chosen and putting in blends (such as fl-) or digraphs (such as th-).  Your child could also create her own onsets to go with -at. Carl’s Corner has an -at slider on pp. 37-38 of this PDF file with more difficult onsets.

Short a Review

After studying 5 different short a word families (-at, -an, -ad, -ap, and –ag) with ALuv, we took a break from doing more short a word families and reviewed the short a word pattern (CVC).  I felt that he was ready to do this because he was able to sound out and read short a words we had not studied, yet (such as jam).

Here are some of the things we did to review short a words:

Found in context: While reading texts together during the day or before bed, I would sometimes point to short a words and let him read them.

Spinner Wheel activity (click here & here for the full lesson and templates)

Games: We played a short a file folder game (“Alligator Alley”); matching short a words with short a pictures

This game comes from a Carson Dellosa file folder game book I’ve had for about 12 years.  I’m not sure if they still make it, but I know they have new file folder game books.  I looked online for a free short a file folder game, but could not find one. 😦  There is this website that has many other free folder games you can download.

Internet:– We read Zac the Rat together, then played the AN game and the AT game.  (I actually have all of starfall’s phonics readers laminated and made into books from when I taught, so I pulled out Zac the Rat and let Avery read it again another day.  Then it went into his ALuv Can Read box.)  Starfall has another link on their site that I noticed as well, but you have to pay a membership fee to play most of the games.  Still, ALuv enjoyed playing Word Machines for short a, which was free.

Bottle Cap Spelling: Click here for how I found out about using the bottle caps and where I got my pictures.  I have a Word template for the bottle caps, which is nothing fancy; but feel free to adapt it for your use: bottle cap circles. I only picked picture cards for this activity that had 3 phonemes (or sounds) and 3 letters  in the word.  For example, bat has 3 phonemes (/b/ /a/ /t/); whereas flag has 4 phonemes (/f/ /l/ /a/ /g/).

Tag Reader: To recap our study, I pulled out a Tag short a book (Casey Cat Has a Hat) that I’d been saving just for this occassion.  I have to tell you, he wasn’t initially as excited to see this one, as he was thinking I’d have another I Spy or Cars one for him, but he did eventually open it up!  We went on a short a word hunt together and then he explored the book on his own.

Free AP Word Family Books

I meant to post these yesterday…sorry!

Here are a couple of AP Word Family booklets from Hubbard’s Cupboard:

Hap Can See (easy level)

I Like to Dance! (includes more blends with the AP words)

More Word Family Fun with AP and AG

After ALuv and I had studied –at, -an, and –ad, we went on to –ap and –ag with the picture sorts from Words Their Way: Word Sorts for Letter Name-Alphabetic Spellers.

Here are some of the activities we did with the words and pictures:

  • I introduced the words and pictures like I did with this lesson
  • We highlighted the different chunks: AP in yellow and AG in pink ( See the Word Study Notebook picture at the end of this post).
  • On several other days, he re-matched the words & pictures together-mostly with me at first and then independently as he became more comfortable with the words

As with each word sort we do, he picks 5 words from the sort and writes them after rematching them (Magna Doodle writing above).  Eventually this will all be done in his Word Study notebook.  But for now, I’m “keeping the peace” by making writing a little more interesting for him!  He is, after all, only 5 years old!

  • Played Memory Match (or Concentration) with the word pairs.  Each time a card is turned over, the player has to read the word out loud.  The awesome thing about making cards for Concentration is that you can use the same cards for Go Fish.  Here’s a handout I made for the parents of my tutees: How to Play Card Games.  It explains how you can use the word study words to play these games.

Spelled AP and AG words with magnetic letters on a metal cookie sheet

  • He glued down his word/picture matches in his Word Study notebook to keep as a make-shift dictionary.  This way, he can go back and review the patterns we’ve studied when he needs them for writing or reading.

ALuv and I mainly do these word sorts in the afternoon when MBug and NJoy are napping.  Sometimes I can squeeze them in if MBug will take a morning nap, but those are few and far between these days.  The great thing about these Word Study activities is that they don’t last very long.  Word sorts and phonics instruction should only be a small part of reading instruction, not the entire focus.  Combined with our sight word work, our Word Block only lasts about 15 minutes (and we don’t do it every day, yet).  We do, however, read every day.

-an & -ad Word Activities

After our -at and -an word activities (see former posts), ALuv and I moved onto comparing -an and -ad word families.  I decided to keep the -an family so I wasn’t moving on into all new territory with him.  We used the word and picture sort #7 from Words Their Way: Word Sorts for Letter Name -Alphabetic Spellers.  This was done in December and took us about 2 weeks.
Here are some things that we did:

1. I introduced it much like I did Day 1 of  this lesson.

2. He wrote words from his sort on our mirror and GloDoodle.  (I wished I had taken pictures of this.  Both boys LOVE the Crayola markers that write on glass as well as the GloDoodle.)

3. Since it was around Christmas time, we read several versions of  The Gingerbread Man and compared them to one another.  (The Stinky Cheese Man is also a funny one for kids to read.)  I then adapted a decodable Reading book entitled Dan the Tan Man into one that ALuv could read a bit easier–click here: Dan the Tan Man revised.

We highlighted all the -an and -ad words.  Then ALuv and I shared the reading.  I read all the words that weren’t highlighted and he read all the ones that were.

By the way, although Reading a-z is a site where you have to be a member to download the books, you can click here and get some sample books.

4.  We read the pages from Hop on Pop, a Dr. Seuss book full of word family fun.

5. We glued and wrote our words in our Word Study Notebook–a place where we keep track of all the word patterns we’ve studied; similar to dictionary or a “word wall”, but in a notebook.

Printable Predictable Books

Hubbard’s Cupboard has some great printable predictable books as you work on word families with your child!  Check these out for -at and -an!



Word Family Rime List: I’ve also had a few questions regarding how a mama is supposed to know which rimes (chunks) to use for word family work.  There are several different online sources, but Hubbard’s Cupboard has a good list.  The word families are in ABC order; not the order in which you should introduce them.  It’s good to start with the simple short a families (CVC) such as at, an, ap, ag, and ad.  Chunks such as ack & and, etc. are more complicated and should be saved for later.  Anyway, check out this link.

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