Word chains (sometimes called word ladders because you start at the bottom and move up the rungs) are a fantastic way to build students’ decoding, phonological awareness, and blending skills because you change just one sound at a time. 

For instance, if you’re practicing –AT words, you just swap out the beginning sound and have your students read piles of different –AT words: BAT, CAT, SAT, RAT, PAT

Or if you need to review short vowels, just change out the middle vowel sound, so your beginning readers will focus in on that instead: HAT, HIT, HOT, HUT

There are many different ways to use word chains when you’re teaching students to read, but here are four of my FAVORITES:

  1. Change the beginning sound (Write CAT, then write SAT.)
  2. Change the ending sound (Sound out BIN, then sound out BIT.)
  3. Change the middle sound (Spell CUT, then spell CAT.)
  4. Mix it up and swap out the beginning, middle, AND ending sounds as you climb the chain (Write DOG, then FOG, FIG…)

As students climb the ladder rungs, they’ll be homing in on the individual sounds that make each word unique.

And THAT means their brains will be busy building the neural pathways they need to have rock solid decoding, phonological awareness, and blending skills.

But here’s the problem…

When you’re teaching a classroom filled with young students, it can be hard to think of productive word chains because (let’s face it!), your brain is busy with a million other teacher things.

So I pulled together a solution that will help: 112 word chain lists that make it easy to practice swapping beginning sounds, ending sounds, middle sounds, or a combination of all three!

Instead of stressing to come up with lists on your own, just grab your set over on TPT and then hit print!

You’re about to have more confidence, inspiration, and excitement as you lead ALL your students to BIGGER and FASTER reading success. 

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