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Onset Rime Word Families

by Jane Farrall


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Why Onset Rime?

Onset Rime has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of improving phonological awareness (Adams, 1990). Phonological awareness is an important skill – it is what we use to hear sounds, syllables and words in speech. Without phonological awareness we cannot break words down and decode them to read unfamiliar words. We also find it extremely hard to recode words to spell them. Therefore, phonological awareness is a very important skill in learning to read and write.

In addition, word families are very useful to target in literacy work, because once a student grasps that one word can be used to generate other words this often helps both their reading and writing skills.

Onset Rime Word -at activity screenshotOnset Letters -at activity screenshot

Rime word families in order of three levels of ease of learning

Easiest: it, ay, in, ap, ill, an, ack, ip, ing, at, ore, ug, ell

More difficult: aw, ide, ake, ock, unk, ick, oke, ank, ice, ash, ump, ink

Most difficult: ine, ain, ate, ail, est, ale, ight, ot, uck, eat, ap, ame

(Koppenhaver and Ericksson, 2000; based on information collected for Cunningham et al, 1999)

This study did not cover all onset rime word families. Below is a list of common rimes

ack, ap, est, ing, ot, ail, ash, ice, ink, uck, ain, at, ick, ip, ug, ake, ate, ide, it, ump,

ale, aw, ight, ock, unk, ame, ay, ill, oke, ank, an, eat, in op, ell, ine, ore.

(Wylie & Durrell, 1970)

For examples of activities using onset rimes you can go to:

Spectronics Activity Exchange www.spectronicsinoz.com/activities

Boardmaker Achieve Community www.boardmakerachieve.com

Learning Grids World www.learninggrids.com

And search in Google for lots more!

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Adams, M.J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press

Cunningham, J.W., Erickson, K.A., Spadorcia, S.A., Koppenhaver, D.A., Cunningham, P.M., Yoder, D.E., McKenna, M.C. (1999). Assessing decoding from an onset-rime perspective. Journal of Literacy Research, 31, 391 – 414

Koppenhaver, D.A. Ericksson, K.A. (2000). Handout provided at the Literacy in AAC Intensive at Gustavus Adolphus College, MN.

Wylie, R.E., & Durrell, D.D. (1970). Teaching vowels through phonograms. Elementary English, 47, 787-791.

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