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  • Writer's pictureTeacher Brett

Working with Word Chains

A word chain is a sequence of words in which each word is related to the previous word by a specific criterion, such as the number of letters, the first and last letters, the presence or absence of a certain phoneme, or a common root word. For example, a word chain that follows the criterion of having a common root word might start with the word "dog" and be followed by "dogs," "doggy," "dogma," and "dogmatic." Word chains can be used as a language learning activity to help students practice vocabulary, spelling, and phonemic awareness.

Here is a scripted lesson plan on using simple word chains for beginning readers:

Lesson Title: Reading with Word Chains


  • Students will learn to read and spell words using a simple word chain.


  • Word cards with the words "cat," "bat," "rat," "sat," and "pat"

  • Pictures of a cat, bat, rat, sat, and pat (optional)


  • Review the alphabet and the sounds of the letters c, b, r, s, and p.

Teacher: "Today, we are going to practice reading and spelling words using a simple word chain. Can anyone tell me what a word chain is?"

(Allow for student responses.)

Teacher: "A word chain is a sequence of words that are related in some way. We are going to use a word chain with the words 'cat,' 'bat,' 'rat,' 'sat,' and 'pat.' Let's start by saying these words out loud together."

(Hold up the word cards as you say the words.)

Teacher: "Cat, bat, rat, sat, pat. Great job! Now, let's take a closer look at these words."

Direct Instruction:

  • Write the word "cat" on the board and have the students repeat the word.

Teacher: "The first word in our word chain is 'cat.' Say it with me: cat. Now, let's break down this word and look at each letter. C-A-T. Can anyone tell me what sound the letter C makes?"

(Allow for student responses.)

Teacher: "That's right, the letter C makes the /k/ sound. What is the second sound you hear in cat?"

(Allow for student responses.)

Teacher: "What is the last sound you hear in the word cat?"

(Allow for student responses.)

Teacher: "Great observations! Now, let's move on to the next word in our word chain. The next word is 'bat.' Say it with me: bat. (Show the picture of the bat.) What sound did we change to get from cat to bat?"

(Continue this process for the remaining words in the word chain.)

Guided Practice:

  • Have the students work in pairs and give each pair a set of word cards.

Teacher: "Now, I want you to work with your partner to put the word cards in the correct order to create a word chain. Listen carefully as I tell you which sound to change. When you have them in the right order, take turns reading the words out loud to each other."

(Allow time for the students to complete the activity.)

Independent Practice:

  • Have the students choose one word from the word chain and write it on a piece of paper.

Teacher: "Now, I want you to choose one word from our word chain and write it on your paper. Then, draw a picture of the word you chose."

(Allow time for the students to complete the activity.)


  • Review the word chain with the class and have the students say the words out loud together.

Teacher: "Great job everyone! Let's review our word chain one more time. Say the words with me: cat, bat, rat, sat, pat. Excellent! Now, can anyone think of other words that could be added to our word chain?"

(Allow for student responses and add any new words to the word chain on the board.)


  • Observe the students during the guided and independent practice activities to assess their understanding of the word chain.

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