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Boost Phonics Skills at Home With the Making Words Strategy
—Dr. Jan Richardson and Michèle Dufresne

About the Authors

Jan Richardson, Ph.D., a reading specialist, Reading Recovery teacher leader, staff developer, and teacher of every grade from kindergarten through high school, has transformed guided reading for tens of thousands of teachers and students.

Michèle Dufresne, a former Reading Recovery teacher leader and literacy specialist, turned her commitment to teaching children to read into the focus of her writing, speaking, and staff development.

Expert Idea

The Making Words Strategy

The sounds that students hear in a word must match the letters they see. Making Words teaches students how to monitor for a visual and auditory match. This process is called synchrony. Students who lack synchrony tend to make errors such as saying had for the word have or saying came for come without noticing their mistake. Making Words also teaches left-to-right visual scanning across a word.

Each student will work with a set of letters to make a series of words that you dictate. Each word in the series should differ by a letter or letter cluster. Asking students to create a new word by making minimal changes draws their attention to the letter/sound sequences in words.

Teach It

Tip Sheet Image

Download the Tip Sheet for ideas on how to adapt the Making Words strategy.

BHH flipbook image

Download the word list for emergent readers.

BHH flipbook image

Download the word list for digraphs and blends.


Watch and Learn

Jan explains how and why the Making Words strategy helps students become better readers.

Making Words with students at three reading stages:

Learn More

  • Read a Sample Chapter
    Click here to download a chapter excerpt from The Next Step Forward in Word Study and Phonics, the book in which Jan and Michèle describe Making Words and many other strategies.
  • Order the Book
    Click here to order The Next Step Forward in Word Study and Phonics.