Changing “Hen to Fox,” “Hike to Chase” & Struggle to Success!

In the last post, we looked at some activities to build words that tutors can use with learners who need some help with letters, sounds, sound patterns and how they go together to make words. In this post, we’ll look at another activity that teaches these building blocks of words: “Changing Hen to Fox”. This activity comes from Patricia Cunningham’s 2005 book, Phonics They Use: Words for Reading and Writing, 4th Edition.

In this activity, the tutor introduces a small number of words and talks with the learner about the vowel and consonant sounds they make. Then, they choose one word and begin making changes to a single letter (vowel or consonant) at a time. As they go, the tutor and learning talk about the changing sounds, the letters that make those sounds and where they go in the new word.

In this video, below, we look at two examples shared by Cunningham (2005) and two other examples created by ReadWriteServe.

In this ShowMe video, we look at examples of the "Changing Hen to Fox" activity that tutors can use with learners to teach letter sounds and words.

In this ShowMe video, we look at examples of the “Changing Hen to Fox” activity that tutors can use with learners to teach letter sounds and words.

As you can see, Changing Hen to Fox is a good activity for teaching consonant and vowel sounds but also consonant and vowel combinations. Here is a list of additional words that Cunningham shares in Phonics They Use (2005):

hen-to-foxTutors can make their own word combinations by taking a word that has letters and sounds a learner is struggling with when reading. For example, if a tutor sees a learner struggle wit the word chase while reading a book, the tutor might create an activity that helps the learner work through letter and sound changes like this:


Be careful not to make the sound and letter changes too complex or to spend too much tutoring time with activities to teach letters and sounds. You always want to put skills like this into practice by reading good books together with your learner.

Keep on tutoring and more learners will be changing struggle to strength!



About bluegrassjb

I am an academic with a love for language, literacy and learning. The focus of my work is on student success at the K-12 and college levels. Outside of my professional interests I enjoy travel, photography and antiquing with my partner and wife. We like to hit the road in our travel trailer with the dogs and when at home party with the cats.
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