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Nonsense Words Activity

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Here is a fun, hands-on way to build CVC words and categorize it according to real or nonsense words.
Nonsense Words Activity that will help kindergarten, first grade, and 2nd grade kids practice turning nonsense words into real words with a fun hands on spelling activity.

Nonsense Words Activity

Why is it necessary to learn about nonsense words?

1) If a reader can decode a nonsense word it means he/she can try to decode any word, no matter how difficult(given he/she knows the isolated sounds). It is an indication as to how good a child’s decoding skills are, and a way to develop those decoding skills.

2) When a child reads and comes across a word he does not know, he can decode this word even if it does not make sense to him. Perhaps it will then make sense to him after reading it in context. It is strategy a struggling reader can use.
3) If a child reads and decodes a word, but realize the word is a nonsense word, he can try to say it in a different way to make it a real word. For example: “seat” read as two short vowels will not make sense, but read it again as a long “ee” sound and it is a real word.
4) Nonsense words gives opportunity to learn spelling rules. For example, “giv” will be a nonsense word because we don’t end a word with a “v”. You will need a silent “e” at the back to make it a real word(give).


Hands on Nonsense Word Activity

nonsense words cvc words activities

You will need:

  • a tray with 3 compartments (or simply use 3 containers on a tray like the heart cups)
  • alphabet letters(we used craft foam ones here)

Add consonants to the first and last containers and vowels to the middle one. You can mark it as shown below:


nonsense word fluency

Let your child choose a letter from the first container, then the middle one, then the last one. Place it in that order on the tray. Try and read the word. Is it a real word or a nonsense word? Place the real words at one side and the nonsense words at the other side. Do this until your letters run out. Count how many real words you have and how many nonsense words. Which side wins?

fixing nonsense words

Extend the activity by “fixing” the nonsense words so that it is real words. You can also add more containers and make longer words.

A great little activity to work on word building, decoding and problem solving too!

kindergarten spelling, first grade spelling

More FUN Spelling Activities

Come take a peak at some of the spelling games we use to make practicing spelling words FUN!

About the author


Nadia is South African mom to two littlies, a former preschool teacher and currently working as a reading therapist at a remedial school. She blogs over at teach-me-mommy.com about easy and playful activities inspiring you to be your child's first teacher.

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