Never Trust a Marmaduke

play by Belinda Lees , illustrated by Kerry Millard

Learning intention

I am learning to understand how to use knowledge about blending and letter-sound relationships to read unfamiliar words so that I may develop my decoding skills.

Success criteria

  • I can use chunking and blending to read pseudo words.
  • I can use my knowledge of word roots and context to predict the meanings of unfamiliar words.
  • I can create pseudo words.
  • I can read the pseudo words created by my peers and listen as they read mine.

Display the following pseudo words (made-up words):

  • plinken
  • henom
  • bridday
  • tagmex
  • geglish
  • catfinet
  • lapsidet

Tell students that these are all pseudo words so they will be unfamiliar to students. Discuss how the words might be read. Explicitly model how to segment the first three words, then blend the sounds to pronounce the words. Segment as follows:

  • plin/ken
  • hen/om
  • brid/day

Place the students in pairs and instruct them to read the remaining words, chunking and blending the sounds. Discuss responses. Ensure students note that the final two words on this list contain three syllables. The words should be segmented as follows:

  • tag/mex
  • geg/lish
  • cat/fin/et
  • lap/si/det

As a class, begin reading Never Trust a Marmaduke up to the end of page 29. Identify unfamiliar words as they arise, many of which will be pseudo words. Discuss strategies for reading them using chunking and blending, segmenting them as follows:

  • rud/i/bak/er
  • cat/as/troph/ic
  • cold/ren
  • fedd/eth
  • up/ress
  • stup/id/en
  • gard/y/ren
  • warm/eth
  • sleep/y/ress

Discuss what these words might mean, focusing on using the root of the word and its context to identify the intended meaning. Ensure students note that most feature a familiar root such as, cold, fed, up, stupid, gard, warm, sleep which allows readers to make predictions. Work through examples, such as, the word feddeth features the root fed, so feddeth might have something to do with being fed. Refer to the context, noting the next word that follows feddeth in the sentence is upress. Discuss how the two words sound when put together (feddeth upress) ensuring students note the meaning appears to be the state of being fed-up.

Instruct students to work with the same partner as before. Tell them to read the remainder of the play, taking turns to read a page each. Instruct students to use chunking and blending to read the unfamiliar words. Tell students that when it isn’t their turn to read aloud, they will act as a listener, reading along in their heads and listening to their partner’s decoding of the unfamiliar words. Instruct the listeners to provide feedback on how their partner reads the unfamiliar words and tell students that they should work together to read any words that are challenging.

Inform students that they will be experimenting with creating their own pseudo words for their peers to read. Remind students of the difference between vowels and consonants. Refer to the pseudo words in the play and note the maximum number of consonants between the vowels (between three to five) and that these are usually interspersed in some variation of a consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) pattern. Collaboratively compose a few example pseudo words, ensuring they do not have more than five consonants between the vowels. For example:

  • ticktil
  • versan
  • wital

Allow time for students to create their own pseudo words before matching pairs together to form small groups. Tell students that they will be taking part in a reading challenge, timing each other to read all the pseudo words their peers have created. Students can use a stopwatch for this activity, or you could set a timer on the board. Inform students that they will be taking turns to read each other’s words while the other group listen-in, ensuring the students read the words accurately.


Peer assessment

Instruct students to keep score of the number of pseudo-words they created that their buddy group reads correctly. Tell students to support each other with decoding words they find challenging.