Nonsense Words

Brian Mastre Email

I volunteer at my son's school and work with different first graders on projects. Sometimes it's counting coins or flashcards. Other days we play games or work on spelling.

The assignment from the teacher the other day centered on Nonsense Words.

I don't remember this from elementary school but the point is to work on vowel sounds. On a worksheet, there are dozens of combinations using a variety of consonants that never spell an actual word.

Hence the title: Nonsense Words.

The goal is to stress the vowel -- whether it is long or short.

I had a boy and girl working on this. The girl read first.

As she finished one of the lines, the Nonsense Word of pic came up.

She was breezing through the list -- correctly matching the letters with their sounds.

When she got to pic, she pronounced it matter-of-factly and with confidence as piss.

The eyes on the boy who was waiting his turn grew wider by the moment. He knew what he heard.

The girl just keep going along. I didn't draw any unnecessary attention other than to point out the letter 'c' makes a different sound than the 's'.

Inside however, I was definitely enjoying the moment.