Nonsense Word Fluency Activities

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Nonsense words are used to determine if children have a firm understanding of how to decode and blend letter sounds. Use this article to find activities you can use to help students improve their fluency with nonsense words. You can find directions and additional helpful classroom resources.

Real vs. Nonsense

Use this activity to get students interested in distinguishing real words from nonsense words.

You'll Need:

  • Post-it notes
  • Markers
  • Whiteboard

What to Do:

Prepare for this game by writing a bunch of real and nonsense words on post-it notes and sticking them all around your classroom. Divide your whiteboard into a section for Real words and a section for Nonsense words. Instruct your students to find the notes and bring them to you. Once your students have found all the words, work together to determine which words are real and which are nonsense. Place them on the correct sides of the whiteboard!

Quick Tips:

Check out this series of video lessons on teaching methods for word identification and comprehension to get some tips you can use to help your students increase their understanding of words. This chapter includes short, informative lessons that are easy to absorb with topics such as high frequency words, cueing systems, and teaching vocabulary.


Give students the chance to mix some letters together and determine if they're creating real or nonsense words.


  • Foam or felt letters


Make sure each student has plenty of letters and instruct them to create some words. You can pick a suggested length for the words, or let them decide on their own. After they've made some words, have them tell you which are real and which are nonsense.

Quick Tips:

Learn how your students acquire language and find some activities that you can use to help your students with language development in this chapter on language acquisition in the classroom. These brief video lessons are supported by educational experts who can help you with any questions you have.

Pick the Real Word

Students get practice differentiating between real and nonsense words with this activity.

You'll Need:

  • Cards
  • Markers
  • Clothespins


Set up your cards before class by drawing a line down the center of each card. Write a real word on one side of the line and a nonsense word on the other. Have students use the clothes pins to 'grab' the real word on each of the cards! Before you know it, your students will be identifying real words with ease!

Quick Tips

You can continue adding to your literacy instruction skills with this chapter on approaches to literacy instruction. In this series of video lessons, you'll learn about a variety of instructional methods you can use to help your students improve their literacy skills, including implicit and explicit phonics approaches, basal reading programs, and the language experience approach.

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