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Lesson Plan

Word Recognition Strategies Using Nursery Rhymes

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Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 20-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jennifer Prior, Ph.D.

Jennifer Prior, Ph.D.

Flagstaff, Arizona


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1

Sessions 2 and 3

Session 4


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Recite nursery rhymes or familiar children's songs

  • Identify words with identical endings

  • Brainstorm words that rhyme

  • Categorize words according to word families

  • Access the Internet to read nursery rhymes and identify word families

  • Use KidPix software to create an illustration to accompany a favorite nursery rhyme

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Session 1

1. In a small group, display the chart paper featuring the words of Humpty Dumpty.

2. Recite the words as a group and allow for discussion.

3. Draw students' attention to the first two lines of the nursery rhyme and read them aloud.

4. Ask students if they can identify two words (other than Humpty and Dumpty) that have similar ending sounds. Lead them to identify the words wall and fall and underline those words on the chart paper.

5. Ask students to repeat the words as you point to them. Demonstrate how to sound out the words by blending the letter sounds together. Invite them to brainstorm how the two words are similar.

6. Point out that the two words end with the same three letters -all.

7. Ask students if they can think of other words that end with the letters -all. Write each of the words on a separate index cards. Words might include ball, call, fall, hall, mall, tall, and wall.

8. Display the word cards, and invite students to read the cards as a group. Be sure to draw attention to the fact that each word sounds the same except for the beginning letter.

9. Place the index cards in a pocket chart and encourage students to read and interact with the words on the cards in future lessons or during free time.

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Sessions 2 and 3

1. Repeat this lesson using Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater. For this rhyme, feature the words shell and well. In the same manner as the first activity, invite students to brainstorm words ending in the letters -ell.

2. Using Jack and Jill, feature the words Jill and hill and words ending in -ill.

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Session 4

1. Allow students access to the website Word Families in Nursery Rhymes.

2. Students may scroll down the page to see lists of word families. Scrolling further down the page they will find a list of nursery rhymes that include these word families.

3. Instruct students to click on the title of a nursery rhyme, which will reveal a new page showing the complete text for the nursery rhyme.

4. Encourage students to identify the word families in a few of the nursery rhymes.

5. Finally, allow students to select their favorite nursery rhyme. Using KidPix software (or another graphics program), help them create an illustration for the nursery rhyme they selected. Have students type the nursery rhyme, underline the rhyming words, and include the illustration.

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  • Display the word cards created for the three nursery rhymes featured in the lesson, and encourage students to read the words on the cards and sort them into word family groups. Have students place the cards in groups using a pocket chart.

  • Invite students to use words featured on the pocket chart in their story writing and journal writing activities.

  • Access the following website to find more activities relating to word families: Activities to Practice Word Families.

  • Have students access the online interactive Construct-a-Word to gain more practice with word families. Similar to a magnetic board, students manipulate letters on the screen to make rhyming words.

  • Have students access the interactive Picture Match or the Word Family Sort for additional practice with short-vowel words and word families. The lesson "Word Sorts for Beginning and Struggling Readers" can also be used for follow-up lesson planning.

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  • Teacher observation: Take note of each student's level of participation during the activities. Reflect on the student's ability to identify, read, and categorize words in particular word families.

  • Student evaluation: Distribute copies of the word families activity sheet. After completion of the handout, evaluate each student's ability to create new words.

  • Student interviews: Ask students to read and interact with the word cards, and then ask individual students to share his or her understanding of words with similar endings.

  • Journal writing: Take note of the students' use of featured words in their personal writing.

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