Chop your way to segmenting success!

Today’s Tuesday Teaching Tip is brought to us by the wonderful Deb Meng, First Grade Teacher at Elk Grove Unified School District and former CKA Board Member.

Say it * Chop it * Say it is a phonemic awareness activity that incorporates sensorial movement which helps young learners segment a word (break a word into phonemes). I developed this activity while teaching kindergarten and have used this activity with TK, K, and 1st grade students. The words choice is geared to the level/ability of the group of students or student I am working with ( I always aim for the students zone of proximal development which increases the challenge just a bit above their capability.) One advantage of this activity is that is doesn’t require extra materials and can really be done anywhere.

Here is an example of Say it, Chop it, Say it using the word camp:

1. Teacher: “The word is camp. Say it.” Learner: “camp”

2. Teacher: “**Chop it.” *Learner: /c/a/m/p/

3. Teacher: “Say it.” Learner: “camp”

**Chop Hand Movements: This is the sensorial: kinesthetic, touch, visual, and auditory, representation of segmenting, breaking, or “chopping” the word into individual phonemes (units of sound). Hold your hand, palm up in front of you. With the other hand, make a chopping movement, hitting the palm of the other hand, as you say each sound

*Depending on the difficulty of the word, the teacher may need to segment (chop) the word with the students until they develop stronger phonemic awareness skills and are able to “chop” the word

1. During dictation and spelling practice, I add a phonics component. Now the activity becomes Say it, Chop it, Say it, Write it. Writing the letters turns a purely phonemic awareness lesson (just phonemes/sounds) into a phonics and/or sound spelling lesson (sounds are now connected to letters). Depending on the lesson, the group of students or student, and the level of difficulty, I may have the students chop the word and write the whole word or chop the word and write the letter or sound spelling of the particular phoneme immediately after the phoneme is spoken. For example, if the word is cat, first grade students should be able to write c,a,t after chopping the word. On the other hand, kindergarten students will probably need the teacher to stop after each phoneme: /c/… write the letter for the sound /c/; /a/… What letter makes the sound /a/?…Write it. /t/… What letter makes the sound /t/ ? Write it.

2. When most of the students have become proficient at segmenting and the Say it, Chop it, Say it, Write it process, I set up one of my rotation stations as a Say it, Chop it, Say it, Write it activity using our spelling words for the week. A segmenting master (A learner who has shown mastery of segmenting and the Say it, Chop it, Say it, Write it activity) gets to be the teacher and he/she gets to choose a helper.