Word Sorts To Accompany Shark Beneath the Reef

It is assumed that students who are reading Shark Beneath the Reef are working in the "Syllables and Affixes" stage of Word Study as described in Words Their Way, Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, and Johnston. The sequence of word study suggested here is based upon objectives in Table 8-3, Sequence Of Word: Syllables and Affixes in Words Their Way, page 226. The lessons start at the beginning of this stage.

A list of words for sorting is included for each chapter. The teacher may write these words, along with any others that fit the pattern on the reproducible form that is included. There are games and activities suggested for many sorts that may be adapted for use with a variety of sorting lists.

Chapter 1

Students need to understand when to add -s and when -es is the necessary plural ending. Many of the following words have been harvested from the first chapter in Shark Beneath the Reef. Write the words on the reproducible form included in this packet and include any other words that are meaningful in your classroom situation.

pelicans fusses
stars rushes
birds lashes
pools splashes
sharks touches
bells ashes
feathers heroes
fingers beaches
flowers dashes
picnics foxes
shores dresses
eagles catches

Lead the children to the understanding that when a word ends in double s, sh, ch, x, and often o, you must add es to make the word plural.

Word Catch

2 Players

Materials: Write the singular form of each of the words on separate cards. Make another deck of cards with s and es written on a like number of cards. Perhaps you will want to include a few extra cards in this deck. Each player has a piece of paper cut to resemble a net.
Procedure: One student has the deck of singular words and the other student is given the s or es ending cards. Each student puts down a card and the players take turns saying if they can "catch the word" in their Correct Net. If a singular card and ending go together to form a correct plural, the student takes the cards and puts them in his/her net. If the cards do not form a correct plural, they are put on the bottom of each player's deck. Continue until all correct matches have been made. Then each player writes the plural words s/he has formed in the net. The player with the most correct plural words is the winner.

Chapter 2

The second objective in the Syllables and Affixes Stage of Word Study deals with compound words. It is important for students to look at compound words carefully before they begin the process of examining multi-syllabic words. Looking at compound words helps students see how syllables come together to form longer words. Following is a list of compound words contained in chapter 2 of Shark Beneath the Reef. The separate words of each compound word should be copied onto word cards. Students should work with partners to put them together. It is helpful to give partners a list of questions to think about similar to the one below to help direct their thinking. Students may also enjoy coming up with silly pairs.

  1. How is the meaning of the compound word related to the smaller words it contains?
  2. What happens to word patterns such as vCe, vv, blends, and digraphs when the words come together? (It is important to discuss this as it will form a basis for syllable understanding later on.)
  3. How many different compound words can you make from the smaller words?

Compound Words From Chapter 2























Students should go on a word hunt and find as many compound words as possible. Make a long list of these and stretch it out in the hall. Measure your list and let Miss Maggie and Dude know how long it is. Take a digital picture and send it to us.


Chapter 3

Looking at what happens to a word when an inflectional ending is added is another beginning objective in this stage of Word Study. Following is a list of words found in the third chapter and related topic words that have endings added to them. The words should be written on word sort forms and students sort the words to discover the rule about when to double the ending. I like to explain that in a one syllable word that ends in a single consonant you usually have to double the final consonant to "protect" the rest of the word from the ending. Have students note that there are usually two consonants before the -ed or -ing.

grabbing walked Oddball Word -
propped kicked fixing
dropping jumping  
swimming rocked  
ripping touched  
tipping landed  
snapped called  
running asked  
grinned wanted  
planned turning  
flipped pushed  
bobbing standing  


Spinning and Turning!

2-4 Players

Materials: Make a game board (or have students do this) that looks like a coral reef. Construct 20 or so spaces along the way. Write the target base words on word cards. Make a spinner in the shape of a starfish. Each arm of the starfish says either "Double" or "Not." Provide a paper for a Word Board. This may be handed in when the game has been completed. Each student chooses a marker.
Procedure: The first player draws a card and spins the starfish. If the card and starfish would go together to form a correct word (run, the spinner points to double) then the player writes the word on the word board and moves her/his marker ahead by one. If it does not form a correct word (kick, double) then the player does not move or write and must wait for his/her next turn. The first player to completely "explore" the coral reef is the winner! 

Chapter 4

Students should next be taught when a final e is dropped before adding the ending of a word. Following is a list of words from the first four chapters that will allow students to discover the e drop rule. Write the words on the template, distribute them to students, have them cut apart, sort, and then articulate the rule.

wipe wiped
line lined
adore adoring
share sharing
squeeze squeezed
make making
idle idling
live living
dare dared
smile smiled
move moving
wave waving
use used
remove removing
shape shaped
notice noticed

Wanting, Sharing, and Using (Like Go Fish!)

3-5 Players

Materials: Write base words that illustrate the doubling, e drop, and "just add the ending" on cards.
Procedure: Place all the cards in the middle of the group. Each player draws seven cards and looks to see if s/he has any pairs (doubling, e drop, and "just add the ending"). If so, the pairs can be placed in front of the player. The first player asks any other player if s/he has an example of a needed card. (Wanting) If the player has one s/he must give it to the asking player (Sharing). The asking player puts the newly formed pair down in front of her/him (Using). If the player does not have the desired card, the asking player draws one from the "ocean" of cards. The first player to use all his/her cards as pairs is the winner.

Chapter 5

The final inflectional ending objective in this stage of Word Study involves changing y to i before adding the ending. Following is a list of words from the first five chapters and related words to help students discover this spelling rule.

bury buried
cry cried
dry dried
hurry hurried
guppy guppies
carry carried
scurry scurried
country countries
supply supplies
city cities


Crazy Eights With Four Rules

2-4 Players

Materials: Use the cards from "Wanting, Sharing, and Using" and add base word cards from this list. Include sixteen wild cards, marked with different ending rules.
Procedure: Deal seven cards to each player. Place the rest of the cards in the middle of the table. Turn one card over to start the discard pile. Each player discards a card (if they have one) that matches the card that is face up in the discard pile. For example if hurry is face up, a player can only discard a card that also has another base word where the y changes to i before adding the ending. A player may play a wild card at any time. The first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner.

Chapter 6

It is time now for students to explore cases where the final y does not change to i before an ending. The following word list leads students to conclude that a y is not changed if the word will result in a double i (e.g. fly - flying) or if a vowel comes before the final y (play, playing).

turkey turkeys try trying
donkey donkeys copy copying
play playing carry carrying
day days identify identifying
spy spying
worry worrying

It may be helpful, depending upon the level of your students' understanding to include words from the previous chapter where y is changed to i. The students' level will be the best determiner of how to present this concept.



(An ending review game for 2-4 players)

Materials: A deck of cards (start with 12 and increase) with the base word cards written on each card. Make a like number of "rule" cards. Write on the cards the various rules such as "Add es to make it plural" or "Don't change the y to i before adding ing."
Procedure: Lay out the base word cards and rule cards in rows. Players take turns turning over two cards to see if they have a match. The player with the most pairs is the winner.

Chapter 7

Students should now look in greater depth at the question of why consonants are doubled before an inflectional ending and what happens in a word of more than one syllable. Below are two word sorts that lead students to the conclusion that a short sound in a consonant must be "closed" with a consonant, much like the beginning CVC patterns they learned in first grade. This word list is designed to show likenesses between what the student already knows (double the consonant if the vowel is short before adding an ending) and the new concept of what must happen in the spelling of a word if a syllable contains a short vowel (it must end in a consonant, thus resulting in a double consonant in many cases). We begin by looking at words with like double consonants.

hummed flutter
dimmed lesson
jutted mammal
flatten sudden
sipped better
grinning common
bobbing bottom
stepping ripple
sluggish splatter
gotten rudder
plopped butter

After students have examined these words and concluded that to have a short vowel a syllable must follow the same early CVC pattern they learned in the primary grades, have students make up sentences to teach to younger students. Plan to have your students clap the syllables with younger children. For example: It is bet-ter to grin than to cry. Have your students look at familiar patterns of one syllable words in these sentences and compare these patterns to the multi-syllabic patterns to see that the concept is similar.


Chapter 8

Students next should explore the important concept of open versus closed syllables. The first word sort, done with words from the book, will lead students to the conclusion that closed syllables have a short vowel sound that is "enclosed" by consonants. Open syllables end with a vowel and have a long vowel sound. This is a prerequisite to many of the spelling understandings in this stage.

Closed - VC/CV Open - V/CV
wonder behind
bottom return
window request
infant famous
center demand
forgot decide
target human
mistake super
matter began
until local
better beside
slender future
supper silence

Word Tic-Tac-Toe

2 Players

Materials: Write the words on game cards. Laminate a large tic-tac-toe board. This way students can use "overhead" markers and wipe off a game to continue playing.
Procedure: One player is the "Open Syllable" player and the other is the "Closed Syllable" player. Decide which player draws a card first. If the card drawn has an open syllable and the player who draws it is the "Open Syllable" player s/he may write the word anywhere on the game board. If it is not an open syllable word, the word goes back into the pack. Play continues until one player has tic-tac-toe with the correct pattern of words.

Chapter 9

Because the understanding of open and closed syllables is so crucial to this stage of Word Study, it is helpful to review this concept again so that students feel comfortable with open and closed syllables. Following is a list of words from this chapter to review this essential idea.

V/CV (Open) VC/CV (Closed)
return under
over fifty
motor enter
later complain
relief tension
locate comment
repair mangrove
remain expert
before mention
pirate gesture
humor carcass
betray picnic
odor custom

The tic-tac-toe game may be repeated for these words and the following game can be applied to either list.


Who Wants To Be A Word Millionaire??

3-8 Players

Materials: Sheets with two columns marked V/CV and VC/CV.
Procedure: One student is "Regis." The other students are the contestants. "Regis" calls out various words that the contestants must place in the proper column and spell correctly. Students may drop out at any time. They have only one lifeline — an opportunity to ask someone else for help with an answer. Play for increasing points. The contestant with the most points is the winner. Be sure everyone has given their final answers!

Chapter 10

Comparing open and closed syllables with the VCV pattern is a next step in Word Study. Students should note that the syllable division determines the vowel sound and thus the spelling. Short vowels are found in closed syllable words (ending in a consonant) and long vowel sounds are found in open syllables (ending in a vowel).

VC/V (Closed) V/CV (Open)
rapid human
punish secret
shiver lazy
habit even
pivot laden (From Chapter 10 vocabulary list)
manage shaven
money propel
any sober
clever diver
limit silent

After students have discovered this rule, participated in timed sorts, and copied the words into their word study books, have them play the following game:

Word Call

2 Players

Materials: Two decks of cards with the above words written on each deck.
Procedure: Players take turns putting down one card from their decks (They must not look at their decks, but instead hold their cards face down in their hands). The first player to correctly call out "open" or "closed" to identify the word pattern gets to add the card to their deck. The player with the most cards when a preset time limit has ben reached, is the winner.

Chapter 11

Since the VC/V and V/CV can be difficult concepts for students, another word sort is presented with this chapter to help cement the concept. Play Word Call as described above and add these words.


VC/V (Closed) V/CV (Open)
river music
modern broken
vanish evil
cover climax
finish Roman
promise odor
never motor
visit silent
oven student
lemon finance

Chapter 12

Students should review the word patterns of the previous lessons. Elicit from them the varied patterns and their importance for spelling. Then have students make a chart of the word patterns and go on a word hunt. Students may work together in groups and see which group finds the most words. Put the lists together and e-mail Miss Maggie and Dude your list. We 'd like to see what you come up with and we could share lists among schools. Remember that one good place to look is the poetry site on Miss Maggie's Earth Adventures! 

Chapter 13

In the vocabulary for this chapter, the noun refuse is presented. Students may initially read this word as the verb refuse. This is a good opportunity to introduce students to the role accent plays in our language through the study of homographs. Write the following words on the word sort template. It is helpful to write them twice as they may encourage your students to look at the words in more than one way. Lead them to the conclusion that the verbs are accented on the second syllable while the nouns have a first syllable accent.

Nouns Verbs
refuse refuse
subject subject
contract contract
combat combat
conduct conduct
permit permit
refund refund
present present
insert insert
object object
project project

Give students a folded piece of paper and have them illustrate the two meanings of one of the homographs. See if your students can add to this list. Display the illustrations on a bulletin board.


Chapter 14

Students have been exposed to homophones in the primary grades and are probably already familiar with to, too, and two, etc. The vocabulary list from this chapter contains a two syllable homophone (plaintive - plaintiff). Since this is a concept that students in this stage of Word Study need to grasp, a list of homophones and ideas for activities are presented here.

plaintive plaintiff
muscle mussel
higher hire
weather whether
alter altar
symbol cymbal
capitol capital
chilly chili
patience patients
bury berry
pedal peddle
allowed aloud
assent ascent
hanger hangar
manor manner
bizarre bazaar
carol carrel
carat carrot
forth fourth
bolder boulder
coral choral
sealing ceiling
flower flour
seller cellar
bridal bridle


Homophone Concentration

2-4 players per group

Materials: In an effort to reduce the teacher's preparation time and to give students valuable writing experience using homophones, have your students write sentences leaving a blank for one of the homophone pairs. Each sentence should be written on a card such as an index card. Depending upon the number of students you have working on this, you may want to assign each student from 2 to 6 sentences to write. Collect the sentences and check them the day before the game is to be played. Divide cards so that there are homophone pairs in each group of cards.
Procedure: Put students into groups to play "Homophone Concentration." Students are to turn over sentences, read them, and decide which word goes in the blank. The student should turn over another card to see if the homophone match is the missing word on that card. If it is, the student must correctly spell each homophone to take the pair. If a dispute arises as to the spelling, the group should consult the dictionary. The player with the most pairs is the winner.

Chapter 15

Write the following le or el words on the reproducible word sort form. Many of these words are found throughout Shark Beneath the Reef. Lead students to the understanding that the / c l/ sound can be spelled el or le. These endings do not follow a particular rule, but must be memorized. However, usually if c precedes the ending, the ending is spelled le.

uncle travel
paddle angel
tingle model
humble gravel
miracle motel
bundle bushel
circle level
settle hotel
muscle camel
tackle label

After the students have written their words in their Word Study notebooks, have them play the following game.

Uncle Travels

2-4 Players

Materials: Make fish with the words written on them without the el or le ending. It is helpful to use a laminated file folder as the game board so that you can wipe away words students have learned and add new words. Use a picture of Miss Maggie's Uncle at the beginning of the game and a suitcase for travel at the end as exemplars.
Procedure: Place the fish face down and have students choose fish. They are to move the marker to the next space with the correct word ending on it. Students move around the board until the suitcase is reached. If a student disagrees with another's choice of ending, the word should be looked up in the dictionary.

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