Phonics and Decoding Lesson Ideas: The Next Electric Company Star

Grade Levels: K-3

In these lesson ideas, which are adaptable for grades 1-4, students use an online interactive game to practice decoding words and applying reading skills.

Students will:

  1. Use phonics and reading skills to identify the correct pronunciation of words.

Materials:

  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP

Preparation:

These lesson ideas feature a PBS Kids game called The Next Electric Company Star. Players use their ‘follow through’ reading skills as they play along with a variety of Electric Company characters in this American Idol style game show.

During game play, a series of animated characters from The Electric Company attempt to read either words on a cue card. Each round presents a different word or sentence on a cue card, and there are three rounds in each ‘play’ of the game. Along with the 3 judges, your job is to watch the reading performance of the contestants and decide which one is reading the card correctly.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Here are some different ways you can use this game to enhance students' phonics and decoding skills:

    • Project the game for the class to see and watch the intro together. Students may make connections between the game and the American Idol show. Play several rounds of the game as a whole class, asking volunteers to select the contestant who read each word correctly.

    • Divide your class into two teams, and have each team take turns identifying the contestant who correctly read the word. Each time a team is correct, they can earn a point. Continue playing the game until both teams have earned ten points.

    • Facilitate discussion about why the other contestants' responses are incorrect. Challenge students to correctly spell the words the incorrect contestants believe they read.

    • Allow students to play the game with a partner. Children can take turns selecting the correct contestant. Encourage students to discuss their thinking with one another and explain how they know which contestant is correct.

    • Provide additional support for below grade level readers by playing the game during small group instruction. As each contestant reads the word, talk about the strategies s/he is using, and why they are correct or incorrect. Challenge students to write each word the contestants say. Compare the words and invite students to explain the errors that incorrect contestants made.