Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Go To Strategy for Teaching Popcorn Words and a FREEBIE

A big welcome and thank you goes out Amy for sharing this fabulous article.  This activity would also be a great RTI intervention.
Popcorn words are always "popping" up. They are the most frequently occurring words our students encounter as readers. Being able to read these words without hesitation not only increases reading fluency but also comprehension. I'm sure we can all agree that some students learn these words easily while others have difficulty despite our best efforts. A strategy that I use to help my little friends that struggle with popcorn words is one that I learned during my Montessori training -- the 3 period lesson. And no you don't have to teach in a Montessori classroom to use this. I don't! I only focus on 3 words at time. I've found that my students are most successful when there are no more than 3 words. As it's name suggests, the 3 period lesson is comprised of 3 different parts to the lesson. During the first period, you introduce the words by showing them a card with each word written on it. Let's say the 3 words you are focusing on are: like, my, no. Show them the word card for "like". Say this is "like". Have them look at the word and repeat it after you. Introduce the next 2 words in the same way. By now your cards should be laid out like this. 
The next period focuses on them being able to recognize the word. Ask them to point to the word "no". Since this was the last word you introduced, it is more likely they remember it and will be successful at pointing it out to you. Continue having them to find the words as you say them. You can have them point to the word card, hand it to you, stand in front of it, put it on their head. You get the point -- keep them engaged. My students love when I tell them to close their eyes and I mix up the words.
This is when you will see if they truly can recognize the word by calling out the words randomly and having them find them. Continue doing this until they easily recognize all of the 3 words. The last part of the 3 period lesson is when you ask them to identify (read) the words. If you find they have difficulty, just make a note to go back and do the 1st and 2nd part of the lesson over the next day. If they can identify the words, then it's time to introduce some new ones:) Once I've introduced the words, I put them on the child's word ring. This way I can easily pull off the words we are focusing on but also make sure they haven't forgotten any others we've previously worked on. I do this by quickly turning through each word card and having them read it. At the top of the word cards are 5 popcorn pieces. If they read the word that day, I "butter" the popcorn piece with a yellow marker.
Once they have gotten the 5 pieces buttered on a word card, they almost always have mastered the word. Click here to get a free copy of the popcorn word cards. A variation of this is Sight Word Parking Lot.
I got this idea from Montessori Moments but had to cuten it up a bit. What can I say? I'm addicted to clipart! With this game, you still do each step of the 3 period lesson -- it's just a wee bit more fun than the cards by themselves. During the second period of the lesson, you say, "Park your car on 'no'" and to have them identify during the last period, ask them to park on a word and read the word they parked on.
  A huge thanks to Mrs. Miner for allowing me the opportunity to guest blog today. I was estatic to have this opportunity and equally as nervous. I hope you all will stop by and visit me at The Kindergarten Center. I love meeting new friends!


  1. I definitely agree that 3 at a time is key...too many is overwhelming and hinders mastery! That parking lot is super cute and adds that little bit of "play" into the lesson.
    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this activity!


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