Word chunks are also referred to as word families in the field of education. This term describes the set of letters that words commonly share. An example would be "and" and words such as "sand, band, land and hand." These words belong to the "and" word family. In the phonics philosophy of teaching reading, children learn to read and spell by finding similarities between words and sounding out the chunks. Making the connection between words and using word chunks to decipher them takes practice.
Go Fish Game
Purchase or make a word chunk deck of cards. There are too many words to use in one deck, so divide the decks into which word chunks you are focusing on at the time. Each deck should have enough cards with word chunks to make all the words you have studied and the beginning or ending sounds you are practicing. If students had an "end" card they would need to combine it with an "S," "L" or "M" to make a word. Students get five cards each and need to make a word with two cards to take a turn. If they can't make a word, they ask for a card from another player or "go fish" and draw from the deck. The player with the most words wins.
Readwritethink.org offers an online word chunk game for free. The website is sponsored by the International Reading Association and provides teachers with free online lessons and resources for teaching reading. The game Word Family Sort, designed for children in kindergarten through fifth grade, teaches students how to find word chunks and sort words into categories. The game also introduces students to the concept of rhyming words to help sound out word families. The finished game can be printed so that students can take it home and practice reading the word chunks with their families.
Word Wall Notebook
Introduce new word chunks each week with a word wall. The word wall is a common method of teaching new words in elementary classrooms. Each week, teachers add words to the word families listed on the wall. A new word family can be introduced each Monday and then practiced each day of the week in a word wall notebook. Students are shown the words on Monday and help place them with the correct word family on the word wall. Each day after, they practice writing and saying the words in their notebook. This repetition helps students memorize the spelling and remember the words made with that word family.
Word Chunks at Home
Havefunteaching.com offers a large variety of worksheets available for printing at no cost. These word chunk worksheets also can be sent home for practice. The worksheets have picture cues to help students figure out the word family. The worksheets are available in developmentally appropriate versions for children of different ages. Kindergartners will benefit from worksheets that have a larger picture for each word while older children can do the drill and practice sheets.