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This post has been co-written with Ben Wolfson, a full-time educator and assistant principal in the USA.
All kindergarten students love to play pretend, and being a secret spy is high on their list of games to play! These secret code words are a great way to tap into this excitement while helping students to learn common kindergarten words to do with fall and to get excited about the season.
Letter recognition and decoding words (or sounding them out) are both essential skills for a kindergartener to manage. Being able to recognize all 26 letters helps them to build both reading and writing skills, while learning how to build words from those individual letters will make them more confident spellers and decoders as they move through the year.
How To Prepare Fall Secret Code Words
Getting this exciting independent fall literacy center ready couldn’t be easier. You can either print one full set for the class and have students “write the room” and collect all 20 words, or print a smaller set for each student to work through at their own pace. If you’re planning on having students create their own messages, you should print one page and cut out and enlarge the decoding grid. This can be laminated and placed in an easily visible communal space. I go through more detail below on how you could use these cards.
Teaching Fall Vocabulary Words For Kindergarten
This fun fall literacy game introduces 20 common fall words and their correct spellings, from CVC favorites like “hay” to compound words like “sunflower”. The basic concept is that students look at the pictures in the bottom right of the image, and use the decoding table to work out which letter. However, there are a few other ways to use these secret code words in your classroom:
Start with the answers – for those students who are just learning how the sounds of each letter makes up words, you can give them the answers and have them match them to each page. This way, they will automatically correct any spelling errors as they know what answers are possible.
Create their own – to extend this task and provide additional spelling and decoding words work, have students create their own words using the pictures. These could be their sight words, first names of other students or labels for common classroom objects. For an extra challenge, try writing a few of the words in your morning message using the secret code! You can also have students create their own themed alphabet code to use in subsequent seasons and holidays; however, your students will always come back to these kindergarten words to do with fall as a firm favorite.
Put them into practice – learning fall vocabulary words for kindergarten is a fun activity, but the research shows that students won’t retain the spelling or the vocabulary if they don’t get to use them in their own experiences. Firstly, encourage them to use these new fall vocabulary words by putting them up in the creative play centers around your room and construct activities where they will use them. Then you can ask students to make sentences that use the words and their correct spelling as part of their fall writing journals.