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Cool Combinations

Use the formula below to help your child learn about compound words.

  • Target Age: 6-9
  • Learning Goals: Compound Words
  • Related Episode: Episode 125: “Franscent”
  • Related Game:Scrapyard Slice


  • Seven index cards
  • Pen
  • Scissors


  1. Tell your child, “Compound words are made up of two or more words put together. Compound words are often large, so to help read them, you can use the formula Break-Shuffle-Read.
  2. On an index card, write the word toothbrush. Show the card to your child and say, “Look at this! This is a really long word, but if we use our formula, maybe we can make it a little easier to read.”
  3.  Ask your child: “What is the first part of our formula? Break!” As you say the word “break” out loud, use the scissors to cut the card right between the words tooth and brush.
  4. Now ask your child, “What is the second part of the formula?” Shuffle! Move the cards so that brush is on the left, and tooth is on the right, making sure to leave some space in between.
  5. The last part of the formula is Read. Read aloud: “Brush …Tooth.” Ask your child if she can think of a sentence using brush and tooth to explain what this first item does, for example: “A toothbrush is something we use to brush each tooth.
  6. Tell your child that there are other words just like toothbrush that are made up of two smaller words. See if she can use the Break-Shuffle-Read formula to make sentences for these words:

            snowman   basketball   dishwasher   birthday    goldfish   drumstick

Take it Further

As you read together, try using the Break-Shuffle-Read formula any time you think there might be two words hiding inside of one word.

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