How to Use Onset, Rime & Chunk Cards July 11 2008

The Jumbo Word Builder and Onset Rhyme Cards are designed to help teachers model the concepts of onsets, rimes and chunks within words for small groups of students.

What are Onset and Rime?

An onset is the beginning consonant element in a syllable, before the vowel. A rime is the vowel and any following consonants within a syllable. Breaking words apart this way helps students see the rime as a unit. For example, you can show your students the word cat, and explain that c  is the “first part of the word” and at is the “last part of the word.”

What is a Chunk?

A chunk is a unit of letters commonly grouped in words. Chunks are found at the beginning, middle or end of words. For example, the an chunk is in the words another, and, sand, man, handy, and chants. Teaching students how to recognize common chunks can help them figure out new words when reading and writing.

Which Do I Teach First?

One of the first reading strategies is to help focus students’ attention on the first letter of the word. Students at this stage of reading should also begin writing some known sounds in journals.

Most likely, it will be initial consonants. Therefore, it makes sense to include word work activities dealing with onset and rime to support students while they are mastering these skills in reading and writing. As students master the concept of changing the first letter to make a new word, they will naturally begin to recognize units within words.

Lesson sample - Onset and Rime

  • When possible, use texts that have a particular rime pattern you wish to introduce to your students. Choose an “anchor” word familiar to them. For example, read them a book or poem that repeats the word cat.
  • Have the c, b, f, h, m and five at cards ready to use. Make the word cat  in the pocket chart using the c and at cards.
  • Explain that you want to make some new words that look like the word cat.
  • Put the rime card at right below the word cat. Say, “If I put the letter b in front of the last part of the word, what will I get?” (bat) Put the rime at right below the word bat. Say, “What if I put the letter m in front of the last part of the word?” (mat) Continue until all the at rime cards are used.
  • Ask your students; “What is the same about all of these words? What is different?”

Extension Activities

  • Repeat this activity using different rimes. Have students work with you to create four words below each rime card in the chart. Then have them write the rime and words in a special word study notebook.
  • Encourage students to write three more words that have this rime.
  • Keep a chart in the front of the room showing the rime patterns you and your students have worked on

Lesson Sample - Chunks

  • Have three an cards and the d, s, y and c cards ready. Show the word an at the top of the Desktop Pocket Chart. Have students read the word and find it in a book or poem they are reading.
  • Put another an directly below the original one. Add the letter card d to the end to make and. Ask students to read the new word aloud. Use your hands to make a frame around the an  in the word and to show that the an chunk is still there.
  • Add the letter s to the beginning of the word. Ask students to read the new word sand. Frame the chunk an with your hands. Add the letter y to the end of the word. Ask if they can read the new word sandy. Frame with your hands to show the chunk an one more time.
  • Put another an right below the preceding one. Put the letter c in front of it. Ask the students to read the word aloud (can).  Frame the chunk an with your hands.

Extension Activities

  • Repeat the activity using different chunks. Have students work with you to create four or more words containing each chunk. Then have students write the chunk and the words in a special word study notebook. Encourage students to write three more words that have the same chunk. Challenge them to continue adding to the lists as they read independently.
  • Keep a chart in the front of the room showing the chunks you and your students have worked on. Encourage students to add to it whenever they find words that have the same chunk in any reading materials.

The Jumbo Word Builder and Onset Rhyme Cards will make an invaluable addition to your classroom literacy center!