1. Overview

Identify whether the “special sound” (digraph) in a word comes at the beginning (head) or end (tail) of the word. The child must not only recognize the digraph but also identify the digraph’s position in the word.

This activity is the same as the previous one, but with no picture cards to help the child remember the word she is analyzing.

heads or tails
I5: Heads or Tails, Part 2

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2. Materials

Print the game board, and sound cards onto sturdy card-stock paper, and cut the sound cards apart. Trim and tape the two game board pages together. The word list is for the adult’s reference only.

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3. Activity

Video: How to play Heads or Tails, Part 2

Before starting the game, do a quick review of the digraph sounds and sound cards. Have the child touch each sound card and tell you the sound each one makes.

Place the dog game board in front of the child, with the five sound cards in a row above the game board.

Now introduce and demonstrate the game for your child. She will hear you say a word, repeat the word, identify the “special sound” and its sound card, and decide whether the special sound is at the head (beginning) or tail (end) of the word. Once she decides, she can put a game piece (such as a checker or penny) on the head or tail of the dog.

Adult: Sometimes you hear a special sound at the beginning, or head, of a word,
            and sometimes you hear a special sound at the end, or tail, of a word.
            Listen, and repeat the word I say, then find the
            sound card that matches the special sound you hear in the word.
            Then tell me if the special sound comes at the head or tail of the word.
            Let me show you. Listen: whale.
            /wh/
[Point to /wh/ card and puff out cheeks in “whh” gesture.]
            /wh/ is at the head of whale.
            So I can put a penny at the head of the dog!
            Now you try. Listen: chip.

Child: Chip.
Adult: That’s right. What special sound do you hear? Listen: chip.
Child: /ch/ [points to /ch/ card]
Adult: Yes. What motion do we do for that sound?
Child: [Makes chopping gesture] /ch/
Adult: Is that sound at the head or tail of the word?
Child: Um…
Adult: Listen: chip. Is the special sound at the head, or at the tail?
Child: The head!
Adult: Yes, the /ch/ sound is at the head of chip.
            So put a penny on the dog’s head.

Go through at least 20 words in a session, in random order so the child gets a mix of special sounds at the “head” and “tail” of a variety of words. Make note of any words or digraphs the child struggles with, and revisit those words at the end.

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4. Variation

Before you start the game, let the child flip a coin. If she gets “heads,” she gets a point for each word with a special sound at the “head” of the word, and you get a point for each one with a special sound at the “tail” of the word. Keep “score” as you play the game. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins!

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5. Small Groups (2-5 children)

Lesson Objective: Using only digraph letter cards as aids, children will hear and isolate the digraph phoneme in a word, decide whether the digraph occurs at the beginning or end of the word, and match the digraph phoneme to its corresponding letter card.

GELDS (Georgia Early Learning & Development Standards): CLL6.4f

Georgia Standards of Excellence: ELAGSEKRF3.a

Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.A

Additional Materials:

  • enough markers for everyone in the group (preferably each child gets a particular color)

Adaptation: Read the main activity, watch the video, and follow the instructions above, with the following changes:

Start by reviewing the digraph sounds. Give each child a digraph sound card and ask her to say the sound it makes. Have all children in the group repeat the sound after the child. Make sure all the children get a chance to say all five “special sounds”: /ch/, /sh/, /th/, /wh/, and /ng/.

Play the game in a circle on the rug, placing the game board in the center of the circle. Remind children that for a special sound at the beginning of a word, they put a marker on the head of the dog, and if the sound comes at the end of the word, they mark the tail of the dog. Give each child a spoken word from the word list. The child should repeat the word, identify the correct digraph sound card, and then place the marker on the dog’s head or its tail.

Reinforcement: Play the game again, throwing in some “mistake” words that don’t have any digraph sounds. “Where do pictures go that do not match any of our special sounds? In the dog house!” (This can be the white space around the picture of the dog.)

Use this Reinforcement at Home form to tell parents and guardians how they can reinforce lessons outside the classroom.

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