Tips and Tools

  1. Be surprised and saddened when the students “fall” for the Trick.
    “Oh no!! You fell for the Trick!”
  2. Be Dramatic when whispering to them the bad news:
    "There used to be a Word Queen in this town who put Tricks in all the words because she wanted to be the only one in the kingdom to know how to read."
  3. Two of my best instructional nuances include:
    • Whispering as if she might be nearby listening ... "so she won’t hear us learning her Tricks."
    • Going to the door and/or window and peering out to make sure she is not around when you tell them a Trick or read them one of the stories.
  4. Dramatize what really happened to the word that the child can’t “sound out.”
    "The Word Queen put a TRICK in it."
  5. It is incredibly more meaningful to the child if each story is associated with a note from the Word Queen, or after encountering the Trick in a word. Read the Word Queen’s notes with indignation and/or try to put it in the trash can instead of reading it!
  6. Each year you may want to edit The Word Queen’s note to personalize them to your classroom community, and events at your school.
  7. Copy the Word Queen’s note giving each child a copy, then read it aloud as they try to follow. Afterwards, the child will search for words that they know, and use a yellow crayon to color those words; or find words that contain that Trick and color them, also.
  8. SING, SING, SING!!! Sing the ABC song every day pointing to each letter. The traditional ABC song makes LMNOP into one letter as I know you know! Singing the Word Queen ABC song (to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” separates these letters. After singing the ABC song, then sing the ABC sounds song to the tune of “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” This teaches the letter names and identifies the sounds as well. The Word Queen ABC card download has pictures that correspond with this song (ABC cards available for purchase). The kids will also enjoy singing the Sight Word Songs which orchestrates opportunities for the students to encounter the "Tricks” in the words while they’re singing them. The Sight Word Songs Posters are available for purchase and should work with your poster making machine at your school.
  9. With the English language so unpredictable it is very SOON that they see very common words that cannot be sounded out simply from knowing the sounds of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet.
    Repeat the Trick the child “fell for” or give another example:
    “The Word Queen put a silent e at the end of a word so you would sound it out like this: /r/ /i/ /d/ /e/ (sounding short i and short e)” or “She wants you to sound the word ‘the’ like this: /t/ /h/ /e/ (sounding the t and h separately). Do you think /t/ /h/ /e/ is a word?” (other examples: saw, was, out, you, like)
  10. When the Word Queen leaves a note for the class, make her come the night before instead of during school hours, otherwise the kids will want you to start locking the door when they go out!
    Sometimes she leaves a note on the outside of the door. She can also go inside the classroom at night because she has a “golden key.” That’s really all! Once they asked me how she gets in, and I told them she has a golden key! They didn’t ask any more questions.
  11. Sing the jingle or song associated with the “Trick” at the time they “fall for it.” Songs included in each lesson.
  12. I try to begin the stories in September or October. The earlier, the better.
  13. Orchestrate the Word Queen coming to your classroom as often or as seldom as you want. I personally like for her to come early and often (maybe once a week) in the beginning so that all the “Tricks” will be exposed and the kids can begin to encounter them and recognize them in words becoming familiar with the construct of words in our English language.
    After she comes and has introduced all the Tricks, she then begins her trip around the world (or USA). Then she may stay away for an extended period. You may have her sending letters to the class from somewhere around the world and do enrichment activities (endangered species, introduce a different culture, explore a new land, etc.) or have her send a note once a month until the end of the year. I usually orchestrate someone dressing up as the Word Queen and visiting the children at the end of the year as a grand finale anc the children are so very excited about that.
  14. The content of the notes may vary from week to week and year to year depending on:
    • The note the Word Queen left last;
    • Where the kids take it;
    • Your classroom community;
    • Activities that are going on at your school.