Standard Lesson

Whole-to-Parts Phonics Instruction: Teaching Letter-Sound Correspondences

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Two 30-minute sessions
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This lesson uses whole-to-parts phonics instruction as an approach to beginning reading. Letter-sound correspondences are taught within a meaningful context in an explicit, systematic, and extensive manner. This lesson uses onset-rime analogy to present word families and spelling patterns. An onset is the consonant letter before the vowel in a given word or syllable, and a rime is the vowel and consonants that follow the vowel in a given word or syllable. Thus, in the word bill, the onset is the letter b and the rime is the letters ill. Furthermore, this lesson supports cooperative and integrative learning where students and teacher learn together and carry out tasks collaboratively.

From Theory to Practice

This article presents whole-to-parts phonics instruction as an instructional strategy for teaching letter–sound correspondences. Moustafa and Maldonado-Colon state that whole-to-parts phonics instruction differs from traditional parts-to-whole phonics instruction in several ways:

  • It grounds instruction in letter-sound correspondences in a meaningful context.

  • It builds on the spoken language children already understand rather than on letter-sound correspondences they don't yet understand.

  • It teaches the parts of the words after a story has been read to, with, and by children, rather than before the story is read.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 10. Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competency in the English language arts and to develop understanding of content across the curriculum.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

Chart paper




1. Make sure that students are familiar with the concept of initial and final word sounds, and that students can identify and name letters necessary for building words in the /-ill/ family.

2. Prepare the following materials in advance:

  • Bookmark the website with the Jack and Jill text and tune.

  • Print and cut out the Flashcards to use for word recognition.

  • Write a list of words, phrases, and sentences on chart paper to use during the group and individual drill (see step 8).

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Distinguish the onset and rime in spoken and written words

  • Identify words that belong to the /-ill/ family using onset-rime analogy

  • Substitute consonant sounds in context to form new words in a given word family

Instruction and Activities

1. Let the class listen to and become familiar with the tune and rhyme of Jack and Jill.

2. Present a Big Book copy of the rhyme or use a computer-assisted presentation to display the words from the rhyme. Highlight the words Jill and hill.

3. Ask students to read-a-long and then sing-a-long as you point to each word in the rhyme. Initially, this can be done by the whole class and then within small groups.

4. Point out the two highlighted words and ask someone in the class to say or read the words aloud.

5. Ask students to repeat the words Jill and hill, and focus students' attention on the final sound and spelling of the two words.

6. Encourage students to identify words that have the final /-ill/ sound. You may show several Flashcards to assist students in giving and spelling words that belong in the /-ill/ family and present other text-related materials to assist students in recognizing words in context.

7. Guide students in compiling a list of new /-ill/ words and assist them in reading each word correctly. Make sure that students' identify the words will, fill, pill, dill, bill, mill, sill, till, hill, Jill, Bill, drill, grill, and ill.

8. Conduct a group and individual drill by asking students to read the following sentences. Have the whole class read the sentences together first, and then invite individual students to read some of the sentences on their own.

  • Jill is ill.

  • Jill will need a pill.

  • Jill will pay the bill.

  • Bill will go up on the hill.

  • Jill and Bill will sit on the sill.

  • The mill is on a hill.

  • Bill will till the soil.
Have students substitute the /-ill/ words in the sentences to fully practice word and sound recognition in context. Magnetic letters or an overhead projector with letter tiles can be used for this task.

9. Ask students to complete the Copy-Change Worksheet using the original Jack and Jill rhyme. The associated picture guide may assist students in creating their adapted versions.


  • Challenge students to create their own Copy-Change Worksheet by changing the original pattern of the Jack and Jill rhyme. Present more /-ill/ words for this activity such as skill, still, chill, grill, and thrill.

  • Present students with computer-assisted programs, such as the interactive Construct-a-Word, which focus on onset-rime analogies.

  • Have students access the interactive Picture Match for practice with beginning-letter sounds or the Word Family Sort for additional practice with onset and rime. The lesson "Word Sorts for Beginning and Struggling Readers" can also be used for follow-up lesson planning.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Have students present their Copy-Change Worksheet to the class and observe students' ability to use words from the /–ill/ family in context.

  • Challenge students to use their writing journal to write sentences or compose a story using words from the /–ill. family.

  • Provide a teacher-made test to evaluate mastery of content and whether the skill has been learned.

  • Ask students to write in their reflective journal what they have learned or have not learned during this lesson. Also, ask them to express what they wish they had learned or what they would like to do to master this lesson.

  • Record or note those students who need more assistance in recognizing words from whole-to-parts. Engage them in activities that offer further practice.

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