The 100th Day of School is an especially big math time in kindergarten, first, and second grade, when kids are starting their addition and subtraction adventures. But that doesn’t mean that words can’t be part of the celebration, too!
Here's a great word challenge for early elementary kids. Using common word endings such as -en, -ing, and -at, you and your child can create ten groups of words—a hundred in all—that boost reading and spelling skills, and even build confidence. Once the 100th Day is over, try using this entertaining activity as a way to pass the time on road trips.
What You Do:
- To make the first “word slider,” have your child pull out one piece of card stock and place it horizontally on a table. Cut it in half, lengthwise.
- Put one of your cut pieces aside, and start working with the other. Use your ruler to mark a square one inch wide by one inch tall. Next to it, have her use a black marker to write one word ending (for example, we recommend an old classic: -at). Make each letter about 3/4 inches high.
- Cut out the 1-inch square you have penciled in to make a window next to it, like this:
- Now, pull out your second piece of cut card stock of the same color, and help your child use the ruler and pencil to mark a line 1-1/4 inch from the long edge. Have him cut along this line to make a 1-1/4” x 11” strip. (Note: Don’t throw away the remaining piece—you’ll need it soon!)
- Using the ruler and sharpie, make nine lines, each 1 inch apart, so that your strip ends up with eleven 1-inch boxes marked, like this:
- Remember that remaining piece of cardstock, the one that now measures 3” x 11”? Take it out and cut it into a rectangle, 1-1/2” x 4”, center it behind your cut-out window, and tape it down, like this:
- Now it’s time for some reading fun! Feed your long, marked strip through the tunnel you have just made. In each of 10 boxes, have your child write one or two letters that can be used to start a word with that ending. “At” words are usually a great place to start—remember Dr. Seuss? If you start running out of ideas, here’s our crib sheet: cat, bat, hat, mat, vat, sat, rat, fat, pat, that.
- Slide the letter strip back and forth, and you’ve created TEN words to practice and enjoy.
- Have your child repeat this process to make nine other sliders, picking from nine of the following word endings, and you’ll have ONE HUNDRED words. (psst: parents, to make things easier, we’ve also included the words we think a second grader, or an advanced first grader, will know!)
- Et: let, get, bet, met, net, jet, pet, set, vet, wet, yet
- An: can, fan, man, pan, tan, van, than, ran, clan, ban
- In: thin, fin, bin, tin, shin, kin, pin, grin, chin, din, win
- Ip: clip, drip, hip, grip, sip, tip, nip, quip, whip, chip
- Ink: think, link, pink, sink, wink, drink, rink, clink, slink, blink
- Ank: Drank, clank, sank, tank, blank, thank, rank, prank, stank, bank
- Ing: ding, ping, sing, thing, wing, cling, fling, king, ring, sling
- Ack: back, quack, track, whack, knack, hack, lack, sack, stack, clack
- Ick: sick, thick, stick, wick tick, slick, quick, trick, brick, click, chick
Special note: parents, you may notice that another common ending, -it, is not on our primary list. “It” does work—you can make bit, fit, hit, pit, wit, flit, grit, slit, quit, and sit. Unfortunately, you can also make at least three off-color words. So we left this off—but parents, the final decision is up to you!
As we noted above, these word sliders can be clipped together as a set and pulled out again many times. In addition to being a boost to a kids’ reading self-esteem, they are great practice for young spellers. We recommend clipping the cards together and sticking them in the car. Add a stopwatch to the mix when you’re on a long trip, and you can have hours of fun as your child learns to move from sounding out each word to recognizing it on sight. In the process, we suspect your teacher will be pretty grateful for your teaching support, too.
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.