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Reading Buddy Tip – February 2019


Supporting “Sounding It Out” with Chunky Monkey

You may remember seeing a neon pink bookmark in your initial Reading Buddy training or in the SAYL trunk on campus. This pink bookmark has different kid-friendly strategies for students to use when figuring out unknown words they encounter in the text.

One of these strategies is “Chunky Monkey” and it is a simple way for you to assist your student if they struggle to sound out new or unfamiliar words. Part of decoding unfamiliar words is breaking them down into smaller, more manageable segments. If your student freezes when they encounter a word, you can model for them how to segment words by using your finger to cover parts of the word, so they can tackle it one segment at a time. For example, in the word “unfriendly” you might start by covering up everything but “un” and then cover “un” and “ly”, so the student can focus on the root “friend” and then add “ly.” You can also use the strategy to help them first tackle the onset (initial sound) in a word or syllable, and then work on the rime (the part containing the vowel). For example, if they are stuck on the word “brake” you can cover the rime “ake” and have them first sound out “br” and then cover “br” and have them sound out “ake.” Once a student has decoded all the parts separately encourage them to re-read the word and blend all the segments.

The goal of Chunky Monkey is to assist students in figuring out how to segment words on their own. Once you have modeled how to do it by covering parts of a word, if they get stuck on a word you can ask them to try breaking it into parts. On some words, students may be capable of segmenting the word but still not know how to read one or more of the parts. In those instances, you might have to tell them how to pronounce that spelling pattern, and then have them blend it. If you have extra time in a session, use the whiteboard to review words students struggled to segment while reading. Have the student practice saying the word, writing it, think of a sentence using the word. You can also have them draw a line(s) to show where the syllable divide is.


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Kirk Fallin