Playing “Word Detective”


One simple fun activity is playing Word Detective. This game is nothing more than asking your students to find particular kinds of words in particular (non-Stevenson) sources. Select the kinds of words according to what you feel your students need to practice most. For example, you might say, “Find me as many words as you can with the twin e’s in them,” or you might suggest all the peanut butter and jelly words they have had so far. Selecting source material depends on the kinds of students you have. You could use newspapers and magazines for some students, but for most young students that print would be too small and the vocabulary could be too complicated. You can select any of the (non-Stevenson) reading books you have in your room or select a textbook of some kind.

When playing the Word Detective game, do not ask pupils to try to read all of the material they encounter (which would be overwhelming). They should just search for the kinds of words you specified, and they should read those words out loud to you. Be flexible. If they find a word like head and assume it is a peanut butter and jelly word (it is not, the short sound of ea is covered much later in the program), accept it. Explain that English is tricky, that some of the words that look like peanut butter and jelly words are not, and students will learn about these later. Perhaps a student looking for words with the twin ee’s might find the word street. The student has found a peanut butter and jelly word, but you cannot expect him or her to decode the triple blend str at this point. In such a case, you can congratulate the student, but you, not the pupil, will have to read the word aloud. You can reward students for finding words anyway you choose. Some pupils will be more successful than others simply because they had source material that contained the right words. Do not let any child feel bad about their efforts. Word Detective is an excellent way for students to get used to different kinds of reading material, different typefaces, font sizes and layouts. It also gives them the sense that eventually they can read all the material they are using.