Articles & Videos

Extension Word activities for your spelling stars

Paper airplane

Subscribe to our newsletters

Receive teaching resources and tips, exclusive special offers, useful product information and more!


Back to articles & videos

Extension Word activities for your spelling stars

Sound Waves Literacy 31/10/19


Do you have students in your class who excel at spelling? You’ve no doubt discovered the Extension Words available for every Sound Waves unit, but how many different ways do you use them? Here are a few ideas to help your top students take their spelling skills to the next level.

Segment Extension Words

To effectively segment Extension Words, students need to make complex grapheme choices. This challenging task will develop their spelling ability as they segment new and advanced words.

Segmenting can be completed online or offline. For the online version, instruct students to log in to their account and use the Segmenting Tool in the relevant Sound Unit. Make sure they choose the Extension Words button before they begin. Students can check they’ve correctly segmented each word as they go. They’ll also see a results summary once the activity is complete.

For offline segmenting, print a template such as the blank segmenting sheets from the Sound Waves Teaching Resources. Hand out to students and have them segment each Extension Word by writing the number of phonemes, and then writing the corresponding graphemes into the relevant segmenting boxes.

Create ‘Find a Word’ clues

Tell students to create their own Find a Word clues for Extension Words, which they can then test on each other in pairs or small groups. For example, clues for the Year 4 chicken unit could include:

  • a tiny dog breed (chihuahua)
  • you usually eat this with fries (cheeseburger)
  • something you donate to (charity)
  • another word for winner (champion).

To successfully write and test their own clues, students will have to spell the words correctly and also understand the meaning of each word. This means the Find a Word activity effectively addresses both spelling and vocabulary skills.

Group words by graphemes

Ask students to group Extension Words with the same grapheme for the focus phoneme. It is best to use phonemes that have a variety of grapheme choices available. For example, the Extension Words in Year 5 contain eight different graphemes for /air/, as opposed to the unit, which only has two graphemes for /b/.

Write silly sentences

Have students create silly sentences or stories containing as many of the Extension Words as possible. For example, a silly sentence for the Year 4 unit could be: Tiny Max’s miniature cape’s marvellous, inflammable material gave him maximum enjoyment for a moment until Mary commented that, in her estimation, he had misjudged its magnificence.

If you find students write long, nonsensical sentences, set a limit on the number of words. Start off with 3–4 Extension Words per sentence before allowing students to use more. If students misuse a word, prompt them to check its meaning and then edit the sentence accordingly.

Go on a phoneme hunt

Ask students to peruse all 35 units of Extension Words and identify words containing the week’s focus phoneme. It’s a good idea to set parameters for this activity, due to the word scope. For example, you could specify a certain number of words they need to find, or put a time limit on the task.

More Sound Waves Literacy articles & videos