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Practice Rapid-Accurate Naming

How should we rehearse Rapid-Accurate Naming?

First remember that the ‘Accurate’ part comes before the ‘Rapid’ part.

If a child’s practice tends to be sloppy
       --mistakes, lots of hesitations and self-corrections
--then that practice is
not leading to Rapid-Accurate Naming!

Slow and steady wins this race.


Here are two options for Rapid-Accurate Naming practice:
     1. Drill Games with flashcards
     2. Re-reading familiar text.


Drill games with flashcards

Make a flashcard for each letter-sound or whole word the student is practicing.

  • Print neatly, in bold marker.
  • I cut index cards in half for Phonics letter-sounds, and use whole index cards for whole words.
  • I cut off the top left corner of the card to indicate which end is ‘up.’

You can add new flashcards for Phonics sounds or whole words, as your student encounters them.
  • Find sounds to practice in her phonics program.
  • Find sounds and words to practice in her reading texts.

But remember to keep each set small enough, and growing slowly enough, so that the student is successful in rehearsing the cards accurately.


Use strategies to stay at your student’s level of success.

Use the strategies to adjust the Rapid-Accurate Naming rehearsal, to keep your student about 85% successful, or better.

When students practice being ‘correct,’
even when you have simplified the task,
they are developing skill in knowing the ‘right answer.’

Easier tasks prepare students for tasks that are a bit more advanced. Finally Accurate Naming is possible.

Matching --> prepares learners for Pointing
--> prepares learners for Naming

When students practice struggling in any way, though,
struggle is what they are learning!

So keep with success and build a fluent, successful reader.

Matching is the easiest task.

In Matching, you show the child a sample letter or word, and let her pick out another one just like it from a small group of flashcards.

You use the opportunity to ‘feed-in- the sound of the letter or word she is looking for:

“Here’s a ‘s-s-s’ . . . Let’s see . . . Where’s that other ‘s-s-s’?”

In other words, let her hear the letter-sound or word over and over again, as she sees what it looks like.

If your learner makes a mistake, just say “Look again.”


Variation on Matching: Make a duplicate for each of your learner’s cards, and mix them up.

  • How quickly can he find the matching pairs?

  • As your learner looks for matches, you can both name the sound he is looking for. “Shhh, shhh. . . hmmm, where is shhh?”

  • Then, when the cards are paired up, you can use the opportunity to say the name of each pair once again.

“Let’s see . . . you found . . .
[slight pause is an opportunity for your learner
to name any cards he knows well.
If not you continue naming] . . .
shhh. . . and r-r-r. . .”
Pointing is the next-easiest task.

In Pointing, you show a small group of letters or whole words, and say the name of one of them (without showing a matching sample).

“Show me ‘s-s-s.’” The learner points to the one you say.

By Pointing, he is demonstrating that he knows which card goes with the sound or word,
even if he could not name it quickly on his own.

This is like being able to point to a slightly familiar person named at a party, even if you could not think of their name quickly on your own.

Pointing is a great warm-up for the next task . . .

Naming is the hardest task, and the reason for practicing the others.

  • In Naming, the learner sees a letter, or combination of letters, and says its sound.

  • In Naming, the learner sees a common word, and says the whole word.

  • Naming can be out loud, or in the ‘Mind’s Ear’ as the learner is reading silently.


Here are some ways to set up your ‘Naming’ drill-game

Lay the flashcards out in rows,
and name them left-to-right, top-to-bottom, just the way we read.

You can take turns with your learner.

When it is your turn, you might make an obvious mistake
--try to get your learner to ‘catch’ you.

Mix up the cards, lay them out, and go again.


More Naming Drill Games--Travel the Road: Arrange the flashcards into a ‘road’ and take turns ‘traveling’ down it
(naming each card on the way).

Play a ‘Board Game’: Arrange the flashcards into a circle or other shape, and use them as the spaces for a ‘board game.’ Use a spinner or dice, and markers, from a board game you already have. Land on a card, and read it. Take turns. First one to finish, wins.

Play the Memory Match Game: Make duplicate cards for Memory Match. Arrange the cards face down, and take turns turning over a pair of cards to find a match. Each time any player turns over a card, she names that card. Each time a player finds a match, they take both cards; otherwise they turn them back over.

Play Go Fish: With duplicate cards, you can play Go Fish. Players name one of their cards as they ask another player, “Do you have ___?’ If so, they take the card from the other player and lay down their pair.

More Variations for Naming Rehearsal: With duplicate cards, you can add numbers to them and play WAR. You can add colored dots or colored borders, and wild cards, to play a version of UNO. Each time a player lays down a card, he names the card.


Variation on Naming: Turn a task inside-out for best learning.

For maximum power, it is always a good idea to learn something from all angles.

          The child sees a tree and says the name, “Tree.”

Turned inside out:

          The child hears the name ‘Tree’ and thinks of a tree.


          The child sees a letter M and says the sound, “M-m.”

Turned inside out:

          The child hears the sound ‘M-m-m’
          and thinks of letter M.

Writing is reading turned inside-out.

So students should practice writing the sounds and words they are reading.


Inside-out variation: ‘You Be the Teacher.’
After a round of practice, say ‘You be the teacher.’
The student does your job, and you do hers.

For example, after a round of ‘pointing’ practice, say
‘You be the teacher.’

The student names a sound, and you point to it.

(If you make a mistake, she has to ‘catch’ you.)


Adjust the Rapid-Accurate Naming Drill-Game
The goal is to keep your student successful every day.

  • Practice with a small-enough set of letter sounds so that your learner stays successful.

  • Add new sounds gradually as your learner is ready for them.

  • If the learner keeps stumbling or hesitating on certain sounds, pull them out for an extra warm-up before rehearsing the whole set. Matching and Pointing make good warm-up games.

  • Practice a task that is easy enough so that your learner stays successful.

  • Move up to harder tasks gradually as your student is ready for them.

  • Matching . . . prepares the learner for Pointing . . . prepares the learner for Naming.

  • Always focus on tasks in which your student is accurate and successful.

  • Trust the process of accurate rehearsal to teach accurate performance.

  • Trust the process of easy rehearsal to prepare your student for the next hardest level.


Read and re-read familiar text.

  • Learners need to re-read selections after they know how to read them well.

  • Seven independent repetitions is not too many.

  • Rapid-Accurate Naming--in other words, fluent reading--of stories your student already knows well, is wonderful rehearsal.


Six ‘Authentic Reasons’ to Re-Read
(Six ways to get kids to ‘read it again!’)

1. Have your student read the text to Dad, to little brother, to the dog.

Or call Grandma and read it to her over the phone.

2. Have your student read it into a tape recorder or voice memo app.

Record it in a low voice; a high voice.

3. Have your student read it into a voice-changing device or app.

I have a toy 'microphone' that adds a tinny, echo-y quality.

Let your student 'warm up' first; then time the selection two or more times.

(Add one second to the time for each stumble or boo-boo,
to encourage accurate practice.)

Write down the day’s 'personal best' time at the bottom of the selection.
(You can use a sticky note.)

Next day: Let your student re-read one or more times--
can he beat yesterday's 'personal best’ time?

And two more ‘authentic reasons’ to re-read:

5. Have your student read the text to you so that you can type it into the computer. Then . . .

6. Print it out in a new color, or a new font. Have your student read the new 'version.'


Search & Say Exercises, in the Word Walls section at The Reading Treehouse, are another way to practice naming the Jiffy Words.


Rapid-Accurate Naming develops with practice.

Rapid-Accurate Naming is a big key to success in de-coding and comprehension.

Short Cut Through the Treehouse ~ The Whole Treehouse

Next topic: Comprehension: If Reading Were Simple