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Three Legged Compound Word Race

Second Grade Phonics Activities: Three Legged Compound Word Race

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World of Words

In second grade, kids work hard to "sound out" new words as they build up their reading vocabulary. Sometimes, it’s easy; other times, more challenging…and if you’re new reader, having a few patterns up your sleeve can really help things along. One very useful tool is understanding “compound words”—long words that are really made from two shorter, familiar ones, combined.

Here’s a goofy party or park game for a bunch of second grade kids who are learning to read long words. Play it once, play it many times—it should still be good for learning and laughs.

What You Need:

  • 16 yellow 5" x 8" index cards
  • 16 blue 5" x 8" index cards
  • Hole puncher
  • String or yarn
  • Stretchy rag or tie for tying kids’ legs for the race
  • Flat, open space for a relay race
  • Bunch of wiggly second graders (and any extra early reader friends hanging around)

What You Do:

  1. Start by making word cards. Parents, you may be tempted to write these yourself. To help your child get the best learning benefits possible, however, sit him down with a thick black marker and have him do the writing here. Use one card per word (but do note that some words are repeated--that's okay!): Blue cards are the opening segments of your compound words: jump, up, child, finger, any (make three), every (make three), hair, birth, some, pop, show, be. On the yellow cards, write: rope, side, hood, tip, body (make three), one (make two), cut, day, thing (make three), corn, case, and cause.
  2. Punch a hole into each upper corner, and tie string through the holes to make a “sign necklace” that a kid can hang from his neck…and pull off quickly!
  3. Divide kids into “three legged race” pairs.   Tell them that they will be doing a relay race in which they must “carry” compound words to a basket across the field. When they run across the field, each partner will wear half of a compound word, so that together they make one compound word.
  4. Place a bunch of other words in the basket at the end of the field. When the pair gets there, they must quickly take off the compound word they’re wearing, and then cooperate to pick out a new one, put it on, and then get back to the starting line so the next pair can go.
  5. Back at the starting line, read off the words that the players are carrying back. What do you see? Are they all real words? Teammates should be prepared to help out here, or else pairs may be sent back to the basket!
  6. The race ends when every three legged pair has gone across the field and back. If you have a fairly small group of kids, you can play this relay against the clock, and see if you can beat your time. Or, if there are lots of kids, this game works well with two teams. No matter what, plan to play a few rounds. It’s great exercise, great teamwork…and above all, great practice enacting and reading those crucial “compound” words.
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.

Updated on Jul 3, 2013
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