Teaching students to sound out words by stretching the sound of each letter is a very important early reading strategy. Some students struggle to remember to stretch out the sounds to help them decode words. The Stretchy Snake reading strategy is the perfect way to introduce this strategy to your students. The stretchy snake reading strategy helps students remember this strategy in a fun and engaging way they are sure to come back to over and over again. I am so excited to share with you my favorite ways to use the Stretchy Snake reading strategy with my students.
What is the Stretchy Snake Reading Strategy?
As a teacher or parent I’m sure you have heard the phrase “sound it out” when kids are learning to read. That is, in essence, the Stretchy Snake reading strategy. Students are encouraged to say the sounds long and stretched out like a snake would make. The reason for this is because it makes the next step of blending the sounds together a little easier. Stretchy Snake is a great strategy to teach beginning readers that are just learning about or struggling with blending.
Introducing the New Strategy
I begin introducing the Stretchy Snake strategy with a question. I ask my students this, “Did you know if you stretched out the longest snake in the world it would be over 20 feet long?” That question usually gets lots of gasps and wide eyed expressions.
Then I pull out a piece of string or rope I have pre-measured to be 20 feet long. I take my students outside if the weather is nice, or in the hallway if it’s not. One student will take one end of the string and walk away from me with it as the other students watch it uncoil. There are always lots of oo’s and ahh’s at this point. They naturally know 20 feet is a long-distance, but when they see it in real life it’s such a cool experience for them.
Next, I pull the “snake” back in and coil it up again. We talk about what happened to the string when the student started walking away from me and what happened when I pulled it back in. They will tell me it stretched out and then got shorter or coiled up.
Next, I ask my students what sound a snake makes. Without fail, they all begin a long “sssssssssssssss” sound. I let them know that just like the snake stretches out its body, it also stretches out its sound.
With this the students are convinced that the snake is the stretchiest animal around. Getting my students to make a connection between a real-world example and the strategy makes it even more effective.
If you have the time or resources, it’s also fun to make a super long snake with strips of butcher paper to hang in your room during this unit. The kids love seeing the friendly snake in the classroom every day, and it’s a great visual reminder of this reading strategy.
Stretchy Snake Anchor Chart
After this, it is time to dig into the Stretchy Snake reading strategy. We begin with an interactive anchor chart and I explain that I want them to become stretchy snakes when they are reading. We start with our Stretchy Snake front and center. Using this visual representation helps students remember all the ways the snake stretches.
Now it’s time to introduce our clever rhyme. This simple rhyme helps students to understand the strategy and remember it. The goal of the Stretch Snake reading strategy is to get students to sound out the sounds of the letters and then bring them back together by blending the sounds to make the word.
Modeling and Guided Practice
To practice we have some kinesthetic fun with the word cards. I point to each letter asking students to stretch out their hands out further and further with each sound. Then we quickly bring our hands back together with a big clap as we say the word. The students love this.
We continuing to practice stretching out the sounds of the words in this way with other word cards we place on the anchor chart.
This anchor chart resource includes 8 different words that can be used with this group practice. Consider making a list of your own words. Include some words to help your students practice stretching and blending.
The word cards include both 3 letter and 4 letter words. Examples of practice words could include:
All of these words are great for stretching and blending practice.
Practicing Stretching and Blending
Once we have done some practice as a group, it’s time for some individual practice. These practice pages are a great way for students to practice using the stretching strategy. It really helps them sound out each of the letter sounds in the words provided.
Students will trace the letters of the word while stretching out each of the letter’s sounds out loud. Once they have written the word and blended the sound, they can draw a picture of the word in the blank box. This a great, quick check for understanding to see if students are comprehending what they are blending.
These pages also get students writing and reading sight words.
Stretchy Snake Pointer Tool
The next activity is always something my students love to create. It’s time for them to create a pointer tool to help remind them to focus on each individual letter sound.
I print out the Stretchy Snake pointer tool templates on green cardstock, cut them out, and then laminate them. My students love these pointers and laminating them allows me to store and keep them to use year after year.
To use the Stretchy Snake pointer tool, just grab some leveled readers and picture books. Let students start sounding out some of the words by using this engaging pointer tool.
Stretchy Snake Center
Once the students have had some fun using their Stretchy Snake pointer tool pair it with the Stretchy Snake cards. This activity is perfect for centers and a great way for students to practice this strategy.
Students will use the laminated Stretchy Snake pointer tool and point to the separated words on the cards. Once they blend the words together they can clip the picture that matches the sentence. This clip card reading center is so much fun and a great way to practice.
This activity is easy to prep and store. I put this activity together using a small pencil box or zip-loc bag. Inside the box, I put the cards, a few clothespins, and a Stretchy Snake pointer tool. It’s easy to add to center stations or for students to grab and take to their desks.
We finish up our week with a Stretchy Snake craft activity. The students love this activity and making their own stretchy snake. As they work I love hearing them talk about the amazing stretchiness of the snake.
Next, students will grab a book, a Stretchy Snake pointer tool, and start searching for unknown words. When they find one, they use the individual letter sounds with the Stretchy Snake pointer tool to figure out the word. Then they add the word and a drawing to their craft activity. The students are so proud to show all the words they can read.
I hang these up in my classroom or send them home with students to share with their families. Year after year parents are amazed at the words their young child is able to read.
Grab Your Stretchy Snake Activities
You can grab the Stretchy Snake Reading Strategies activities in the Emily Education store. With these engaging activities your students will be using their Stretchy Snake reading strategies in no time!
Save these Stretchy Snake Anchor Chart And Activities Ideas
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