Are you stressed about teaching the FLOSS rule? Do you even know what the FLOSS rule is? Spoiler alert: I didn’t! I opened up my curriculum and my eyes popped – what is this rule?! I had to find out more.
After lots of research, reading, trial and error I have discovered the 15 easiest activities to support your students letter sound knowledge and mastery of all bonus letters!
So, what is the FLOSS Rule? The FLOSS Rule is when a short vowel is paired with the letters: f, l, s or z and the letter is doubled. These are often called “bonus letter” words because they need an extra letter at the end.
Before learning the FLOSS rule students should be able to identify all consonant sounds and be able to hear the difference between a long and short vowel. They don’t necessarily need to know how to write a long vowel sound, but they should be able to hear the difference in the words “pass” and “pace” because the vowel determines the spelling of those words.
Whichever method you used to teach bonus letters, there is only one way to ensure success: explicit and consistent practice. After teaching the FLOSS Rule be sure to repeat it’s conditions (short vowel and f, l, s, or z) often and provide ample opportunity to practice both reading and writing these words.
FLOSS Rule Words
When teaching bonus letters, or any phonics skill, it is helpful to have a word list to easily think of words for students to read or write. Be sure to pin the image below to easily have access to a FLOSS Rule word list at any time!
Here are some examples of words using this phonics rule: boss, toss, moss, mall, pill, pull, buzz, dull…. Any time you have a short vowel followed by a consonant f, l, s, or z the word needs a bonus letter!
USING AN Anchor Chart
Many teachers love to use anchor charts to teach phonics rules! Remember: anchor charts are more effective when made together and reviewed often. It is helpful to use familiar language when making anchor charts to make the charts as independent as possible.
Here is the FLOSS Rule Anchor Chart I make year after year! After introducing the bonus letter rule, you can have your students support the anchor chart creation at the start of every phonics time. This helps them recall what words get a bonus letter and apply it to their reading and writing.
BONUS LETTER ACTIVITIES
Now that you’ve introduced bonus letters to your students, here are 15 amazingly easy ways to practice reading and writing those FLOSS Words!
Sorting Vowel Sounds
FLOSS Rule words use a short vowel. For students to be able to use the bonus letter rule successfully, they need to be able to identify a short vowel sound.
To prepare your students to learn to read and write bonus letter words begin with a vowel sort. This should be done with pictures or verbally, as students are not yet reading consonantly.
Identifying Ending Consonants
To accurately learn and use bonus letters in words, students should be able to identify ending sounds in words. By identifying the ending sound in words, students are able to determine if they hear the letters F, L, S, or Z and therefore needing a bonus letter.
A great game to target identifying ending sounds is Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. You can use the word list above, or create your own! Read a word. Have your students give a thumbs up, or thumbs down, if they here the sound /f/, /l/, /s/ or /z/.
Looking for Short Vowel + F, L, S, Z Consonants
Once your students understand short vowels and can identify ending sounds, it’s time to start putting the FLOSS Rule puzzle together! Write a list of Bonus Letter words on the board, or give each student a list. Ask: what do they notice? Guide your students conversations to discovering that each word has a short vowel and ends with one of the following letters: F, L, S, or Z
FLOSS Rule Phonics Reader
Now your students have some exposure to Bonus Letter words, you can explicitly teach the FLOSS Rule! Using an anchor chart, or a phonics reader, is a great way to demonstrate how and why different words get a bonus letter. Have your students review these often as they become more comfortable and confident reading and writing words with bonus letters.
Identifying Bonus Letter Consonants
To read and write FLOSS words accurately, students need to be bonus letter detectives! A great activity to support learning FLOSS Rule words is to identify those consonants that require a bonus letter. A letter search is a great way for students to think critically about individual letters, and their uses!
Identifying Bonus Letter Words
Yes/No is a great game to identify Bonus Letter words! The teacher says a word and students can say yes or no (or draw a check or x) if the word will need a Bonus Letter. Be sure to vary long vowel and short vowel words, along with differing ending sounds so students really have to focus in on if the word requires a Bonus Letter.
Teacher Tip: This is not the time to introduce “rule breakers”. Focus on the rule of majority then discuss rule breakers as they occur naturally in reading and writing.
Sounds vs. Letters in Bonus Letter Words
Bonus letters are a time where there are more letters than sounds in words. Students must be able to identify how many sounds they hear, then represent the letters accordingly. For all phonics instruction, students should understand the difference between the grapheme (written letter) and the phoneme (spoken sound). Elokin boxes are perfect for this activity!
Orally give your students a word. Have them represent the sounds with a manipulative then underneath the sounds, write the letters (graphemes) that represent the accurate spelling. Be sure to discuss how with Bonus Letter words there are always more letters than sounds!
Sorting Bonus Letter Endings
To master any phonics rule you must practice, practice, practice! The more opportunities you can give your students with identifying and using the FLOSS Rule the better. Have students sort the ending sounds that utilize a bonus letter.
Reading Real and Nonsense Words
After students have an understanding of the FLOSS Rule, it’s time to put it to use and think critically using the skill. Have students sort real and nonsense words utilizing bonus letters!
Drawing FLOSS Rule Words
Check for students comprehension of bonus letter words by having them draw pictures of words they read! This is a great, engaging small group activity. Give each student a note card with a FLOSS Rule word. Have them draw the picture then each student can guess the others’ pictures – knowing it uses a word that features a bonus letter!
Matching Bonus Letter Words
Matching is a great activity to focus on specific phonics skills, like bonus letters! Have students read the word then match it to the corresponding picture.
Building Bonus Letter Words
Now that your students are identifying and reading bonus letter words consistently, they can start building bonus letter words! Use letter tiles, notecards, sticks – anything you can think of – to build words that use a bonus letter!
FLOSS Rule Reading Passages
The more natural settings your students can encounter FLOSS words, the more fluently they will be able to read and write bonus letters. Using targeted reading passages is a great way for students to increase their fluency when reading bonus letter words. Have students read the passage, then go through and re-read to identify all the words that feature the FLOSS Rule.
Using the FLOSS Rule in Sentences
Another higher level thinking activity using bonus letters is adding words to complete a sentence. This requires students to read each word and think critically about its application in a sentence.
Reading FLOSS Rule Words Naturally
The last super simple activity to teaching FLOSS Rule is to notice and talk about them in the real world! Read your school memos – are there any bonus letter words? What about in your read aloud? Lunch menu? These words are hiding everywhere if you only take the time to look for them!
With direct, explicit instruction your students are sure to master words with bonus letters! Be sure to try these activities and share your favorite below.
Want to save time on prep and follow a week long lesson plan? Check these out!