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Word Walls

Help Students Develop Their Word Skills


Photo Janelle Cox
What You Will Learn

→ What a Word Wall is
→ Why Teacher's Use a Word Wall
→ How to Use a Word Wall
→ Activities for Working with Words
→ Sample Weekly Schedule with Words

What is a Word Wall?

A Word Wall is a categorical listing of words that have been taught in the classroom and displayed on the wall. Students can then refer to these words during direct instruction or throughout the day.

Example of Words
  • High frequency words (words used in speaking, reading, writing)
  • Word families (rhyming, patterns)
  • Other criteria (compound, contractions, prefix)
  • Site words
  • New vocabulary words

Why Use a Word Wall?

Word walls provide students with easy access to words they need to know during activities. The most effective word walls are used as a learning reference throughout the year.

Other factors:

  • To teach essential words to ensure basic skills.
  • To create a reliable method to achieve basic literacy.
  • To build phonic and spelling skills.
  • To provide support during literacy activities.
  • For students to develop a relationship with words.

How to Use a Word Wall

  • Write words in large black letters and use colorful backgrounds to easily distinguish words.

  • Use a variety of activities to practice words such as: clapping, snapping, cheering, tracing, playing guessing games, etc.

  • Make sure the words are spelled correctly and spaced out evenly.

  • Add new words to the wall every week.

  • Use Velcro to attach the words to the wall to make it interactive.

  • Post frequently misspelled words.

  • Post frequently used and misused words.

  • Post variations of words such as sleep, sleeps, sleeping.

Activities for Working with Words

Rhyming Words - Have the students utilize the word wall for this activity. Tell the students, "Using the words on the wall, write down the word that rhymes with _____."

Guess What I am Thinking - Have students guess the word you are thinking about from the words on the wall. Give students clues about the word such as, "I am thinking of a word that starts with a "____" sound and rhymes with "_____."

Snap and Clap - Dictate a set number of words and have students "snap and clap" the words as you say them together as a class.

Spell and Shape - Have students write a word you choose from the wall repeatedly around a specific shape such as a square, circle, or triangle.

Shout it out - Have students physically act out the shape of the letters from the words on the wall. For example, for tall letter have students raise their arms over their heads, short letters, touch the ground, and so on.

Flash Light Words - The children love this one! Turn off the lights and have each student take turns coming to the word wall and flashing a light on a word you choose.

Categorize Words - Have students place words in alphabetical order, sequential order or by any other criteria you choose.

Word Wall Bingo - Give each student a blank bingo card and have them choose words from the word wall to write on the card. Then take down all of the words and place them in a bag. Take turns having students come up and choose a word from the bag. The first one to get four corners or three in a row calls Bingo!

Around the World - All students sit at their desk and one student stands next to one of the students desks. The teacher flashes a word to the student, and the first one that gets the word correct moves on to the next desk. The student that makes it all the way around the classroom and back to his/her desk is the winner.

Sample Weekly Schedule

  • Introduce the new words for the week.
  • Clap, snap or cheer the new words and then compare them to other words (Look for patterns, etc).
  • Have students write the new words in their notebooks.
  • Have one student come up and use a "flashlight" or "pointer" as the class reads each new word together.
Tuesday - Thursday
  • If new words are added then do the same as Monday.
  • Review all words.
  • Do one of the above activities for working with words each day.
  • Play "Word Wall Bingo" or "Around the World" with the words.

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