Making Words Lesson Plan: Say What? Game

Grade Levels: K-3

In these lesson ideas which are adaptable for grades 1-3, students use an online interactive game to review letter sounds and create words through various combinations of letters, onsets, and rimes.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Listen to a word that is read and add the correct rime to the given letter or onset.
  2. Make words using a variety of initial letter sounds, onsets, and rimes.
  3. Create, read, sort, and distinguish between real words and nonsense words.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP


These lesson ideas feature a PBS Kids game called Say What?. The game is based on “Silhouette Blends” by The Electric Company.

Players listen to the full word that needs to be created. One part of the word will be shown on screen. You must choose which letter or letter combination is needed to complete the word from the choices provided on the bottom of the screen. If you’re correct, you’ll be given a new word to create! If the choice is incorrect, you will be prompted to try again.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Here are some different ways you can integrate this game into your reading instruction:

    • Project the game on your interactive whiteboard. Listen to each word as it is read and examine the picture cues. Then read the initial sound or onset along with each of the word segment choices, noting that some of them make real words and some make nonsense words. Have volunteers come up to the board and select the rime that completes the word that was read to them by the game host. Draw students' attention to the explanation the game gives as to why the word is incorrect, or the proper pronunciation of the word if it is correct.

    • When reading the given initial sound or onset with each of the rime choices, challenge students to identify which combinations produce real words and which produce nonsense words. You may want to have students make T chart and list each of the word combinations. After they have finished playing the game, challenge students to read each of the real words and nonsense words they have listed. Which list has more words? Why do students think that is?

    • How can you tell if a word is a real word? Challenge students to suggest ways they can check the meaning and spelling of words they write. Ideas include classroom word walls, dictionaries, online dictionaries, spell check, and search engines.

    • Have one student suggest an onset. Instruct the class to work with a partner or small group to list as many words as they can possibly create using that onset. Encourage students to separate the onsets and rimes as they record the words with a slash (i.e. br/own). You may want to allow students to use the dictionary or online tools to check to see if a word is real. When time is up, have the groups share their lists. How many different words can be made with each onset?

    • Allow students to play the Say What? game with a partner. Encourage students to discuss their thinking with one another. Talk about various strategies with students as they play. Students may want to record some of the words they make in a personal word wall or word bank.

    • Provide additional support for below grade level readers by playing the game during small group instruction. Students can copy each of the word segments onto paper or index cards and practice making words by physically moving them around. Afterward, challenge students to mix up the onsets and rimes they've written from various rounds of game play and see what new words they can create.

    • After game play, challenge students to create stories that use some of the words they created through one or more of the activities above. You may wish to provide copies of the Mini Book Graphic Organizer and have students make books about a selected letter sounds, onset, or rime, featuring a different word and its illustration on each page.