Guest blogger: Jenny from Luckeyfrog’s Lilypad

I am hopefully returning from my cruise, safely. My hunny doesn’t know how to swim, so it’s possible that I dumped him off the side of the ship in a moment of frustration  – “But I WANT to go to the captain’s party!” and am returning home alone.

But then, who would help me drive all the way back from Galveston? It is about 13 hours. Nah, I’d better bundle him up in floaties so he won’t sink if I DO dump him off the ship.

Hey there! I’m Jenny from Luckeyfrog’s Lilypad, a teacher checking out 3rd grade for the first time this year. It’s only my 2nd year in my own classroom, after 2 years as an interventionist.

While I was an interventionist, I sometimes had to assess kids using DIBELS NWF (Nonsense Word Fluency). I always found it a little frustrating, because you teaching kids to think about what word makes sense as they decode… and then you give them a test of completely made-up words. If I had a dollar for everytime I heard a kid sound it out correctly, and then read it to me as a real word with similar sounds… well, I’d be eating at Olive Garden tonight.

Mmmm, breadsticks.

*ahem* Anyway.

Most teachers don’t use nonsense words beyond 1st grade, and that makes sense. A kid doesn’t need to sound out “kog”! But when kids know that the words aren’t real, nonsense words can actually be a really fun teaching tool- even in the older grades.

In 2nd grade, I used nonsense words pretty often. I still used them to work on decoding, but it looked a little different in 2nd grade (which you can read about here).

The best way to use nonsense words, though?


So many times when I teach context clues, a few of my kids already know the word and don’t really get the practice. Well, when you make up words, no one can know what it means already! (And, choosing words that are funny to say makes the kids a lot more engaged.)

You can combine it with some decoding practice, too.

I also like to use it to prepare kids for the times when they happen across a new proper noun. Teaching them to do their best to decode, and use context recognize what kind of proper noun it is (name of a character, name of a place, etc…) helps them persevere while reading. If I had a dollar for every time a kid just shut down when they got to a tough proper noun during a test, I’d probably be taking some pasta e fagioli home with me.

And breadsticks.

…Yes, I’m hungry. And, quite possibly, addicted to breadsticks.

A fun game to play with nonsense words is called “Scubba.” My husband is an improv comedian, and this is actually a game his troupe performs onstage. I’m not near as clever as he is at coming up with things on the fly (although teachers do develop a *little* knack for that!), so I usually write them ahead.

You can use Scubba Stories to practice context clues, work with multiple meaning words, parts of speech, vocabulary words, and so much more. Best of all, they are silly and fun, and you can even challenge kids to be creative and write their own!

Here’s what a Scubba Story might be like:

I went to Fazoli’s last night, and I had the most delicious pizza for dinner! It was so scubba that it kept making these long strings from the pizza to my mouth. I got a little embarrassed, though- while we were in the restaurant, my dad started singing a love song to my mom! I guess it was sweet, but I thought it was a little scubba to sing the song from Lady and the Tramp while they were eating scubba baked spaghetti.

Okay… can you guess?

What word goes in place of “scubba”?

I’ve posted more about using nonsense words in the upper grades over at Luckeyfrog’s Lilypad. Hop on over for a nonsense words freebie- and to see if you figured out the “scubba!”

Thanks, Chrissy, for letting me guest blog here today and reveal my love of Italian food! Hope you are having a BLAST on your cruise!

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