Monday, August 19, 2013

Interactive Word Wall - Creating and Daily Use of a Classroom Word Wall

In our schoolroom we have two 4' by 3' magnetic dry erase boards I got for a bargain at a local office supply store. I use one as our circle time center. The other I decided to turn into a word wall. Our homeschool focus this year (pre-K and kindergarten) is on math and literacy and a word wall fits in beautifully with that focus. I'm going to discuss the creation of the word wall, how I plan to introduce new words each week, and short activities I plan to do with the word wall on a daily basis.

Creation of the Word Wall

I took the same letters I used when making my phonics/handwriting alphabet border and used them to create the alphabet headings for the word wall. It puts a handwriting reference in yet another place in the classroom and brings that reference physically down to their level. Then I laminated them, cut them out, and slapped some magnets on the backs. I've found the most economical way to magnetize things for use on a magnetic dry erase board is to buy inexpensive magnetic vent covers (like these, except you can get them for around $5 at a local hardware store) and just cut squares to size out of the vent covers and attach them to your words (or calendars, or decorations) with double sided tape. I also wanted to separate out the digraphs so I made separate headers for those. Our reading program (All About Reading) treats them as separate phonograms, and we do a lot of speech therapy in this house, so it makes sense for us to separate those out.

I also made a starter set of words. I printed colored rectangles in 6 different colors because I've read that it is helpful for visual discrimination and sight word recognition to have each word under a heading placed on a different color background. (Hmm, in retrospect I could have saved a lot of color ink by just cutting the rectangle backgrounds out of six different colors of cardstock.) I printed the words on white paper. I then cut the words out taking the time to cut around the shapes of the words. I stuck them on the background with a tiny bit of double sided tape just to hold them in place as I ran them through the laminator. I made sure that all words that would end up under the same header (all the G words, for example) were attached to differently colored backgrounds.) Once they were laminated, I cut them out and attached magnets. I did not attach all of them to the word wall yet though.

Introduction of Word Wall Words

I am going to introduce no more than 4-6 new word wall words each week. We will learn and interact with the new words of the week during circle time. Each of the words for the week has a differently colored background. I also try to choose words that we can make into a sentence. During circle time we will look at each word and Clap and Snap the word. To clap and snap a word, say the word followed by a clap, spell the letters each followed by a snap, and then say the word again followed by a snap. So "and" would be: "and" (clap) a (snap) n (snap) d (snap) "and" (clap). Then we will build a sentence using a lap-size magnetic dry erase board. The entire process should take no more than 5 minutes each morning during circle time. At the end of the week the words will be moved over to the word wall and we'll begin a new set the following week.

Daily Word Wall Games and Activities

During each day we will play a short word wall game as a fun transition from one activity to another (probably in between writing journals and math). We will choose from the following list (these were chosen because they will work well in a small-group, homeschool environment but most would work in a classroom as well):

  1. Find and Erase - Write 5-10 word wall words on lap-size dry erase boards with dry erase markers (you can use plastic plates or a piece of blank laminated paper for this purpose too). Say a word at random and have the children find that word on their board and erase it. Continue until all the words are gone. If your children are writing, they can write the words themselves. Otherwise, write the words for them.
  2. Tall Towers - When you make your word wall cards, write a number between 1 and 3 in a corner on the back of each card. When you begin this activity choose 6-12 word wall cards at random from the board and use them as a mini card deck. Also grab blocks, snap cubes, legos, duplos, or anything other manipulative children can build towers with. Shuffle the cards. Have the children take turns pulling a card and reading the word on the front. If successful they turn the card over and add that many bricks (blocks, cubes, etc.) to their tower. If not, they return the card to the deck. Continue in this manner until all the cards are gone. Sit back and admire the "tall towers". Then have the children return the words to their proper places on the word wall.
  3. Word Wall, Beach Ball - Stand or sit in a circle. Teacher holds a beach ball (or any ball, or bean bag...). The teacher tosses the ball to a child and asks the child to tell the color of the word "_____" (name a word off the wall at random). The child must find the word on the wall and name the color. Then the child throws the ball to another child and asks that child to tell the color of a new word. And so on...
  4. Word Wall Hot Potato - Play hot potato with a bean bag or small ball. When the music stops, ask the child to tell you a _____ word (choose a color from the word wall). The child reads a word with that color background and then play continues.
  5. Word Wall Bingo - Give each child a blank Bingo card with 6 spaces (laminated so they can reuse it) and a dry erase marker and have them write a word wall word in each space. When they are done, have them gather those words from the word wall. Shuffle the cards. As you read each word the child looks to see if they have that word on their card and if they do they can mark it out with their marker. The first child to mark out all their words wins. Then the children can return the cards to their proper spaces on the word wall.
  6. Word Wall Tic Tac Toe - Make and laminate blank tic-tac-toe grids large enough for your kids to write word wall words in the spaces. At the beginning of the game have them write word wall words of their choice in each space. When they are done, have them gather those words from the word wall. Shuffle the cards. As you read each word tell them if it is an 0 or an X word. If they have the word they put an O or X over the word with their dry erase marker. The first person to get a tic-tac-toe wins. Then the children can return the cards to their proper spaces on the word wall.
  7. Word Wall Order Up - Each child chooses 4-7 words from the word wall and returns to their desk. They put the words in alphabetical order. Once checked by the teacher, they return the words to their proper places on the wall.
  8. Word Wall Mystery Word - Each child chooses 1-4 words from the word wall (depending on the total number of children you have and how many words you want in the guessing pool). Have them bring those words to you. These words will make up the guessing pool. Choose a word from the pool and give the students hints (The mystery word is one syllable, the mystery word has four letters, the mystery word rhymes with pan, the mystery words ends with an "e", the mystery word has two letters that are the same...). Take your time and let the children physically remove letters that do not meet the clue's criteria from the pool if necessary until only one remains. Then they've found the mystery word. At the end of the activity have the children return the cards to the wall.
  9. Word Wall Rhymes - You say a word that rhymes with one or more words on the wall and the children find the words that rhyme.
  10. Word Wall Fill in the Blank - Have the children choose 1-3 words from the word wall to form a guessing pool. Bring the words back to the table. You make up a sentence with one of the words from the guessing pool and say it out loud omitting the target word. The children must figure out which of the word wall words makes sense in your sentence. At the end of the activity have the children return the cards to the wall.
  11. Word Wall Build a Sentence - Pre-choose several word wall words that can be combined in several ways to make grammatical sentences anywhere from 2-6 words in length. You say a sentence and the children work to build your sentence using the word wall cards. At the end of the activity have the children return the cards to the wall.
  12. Word Wall Sorts - Have each child choose 5-10 words from the wall. You give them a criteria and have them sort their words by that criteria (words that rhyme, words that begin with the same letter, words that end with the same letter, words that have the same number of syllables, words that share a vowel, etc.). When finished, they return their words to the wall.
  13. Guess which word is hiding? - Build a sentence out of word wall cards and then hide a key word with a sticky note. Invite the children to guess the missing word and write their guesses down. Then remove the sticky note and see if anyone guessed correctly. Repeat with a new sentence.
  14. Build, Mix, Fix - For this activity you will need a set of letter tiles (or just letters printed on cardstock and cut out) for each child. The child sits at their desk with the letter tiles and you call out a word wall word. They build the letters with the tiles and you check for accuracy. Then they mix up the letters. Next they fix the mixed up letters. Repeat for a new word.
  15. Word Wall Word Search - Create and print a simple blank word search form with a grid at the top and a blank box at the bottom. Have the children write 5 word wall words of their choice in the box at the bottom and then transfer them into the grid at the top. Next they fill in the remaining spaces with random letters. Then trade papers and do the word search.

I printed out this list to hang on the wall near my word wall so that it would be easy to remember a wide variety of activities and to choose a new one each day. This is three weeks worth of daily word wall activities without repeats. You're welcome to use the list as well. Simply click on the image to open to full size and then right click to save. Open the saved image on your computer and print.

Read More About Word Walls

I got most of my ideas from these two sources. They have even more word wall games and activities than the ones I chose to highlight above.

  1. Kindergarten Lifestyle - Great explanation of interactive word walls, adorable free word wall printable, a few great game ideas.
  2. Word Wall Activities - huge list of word wall games and activities. Dozens at least.


  1. What a fun way to practice new words! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for you ideas. :-)
    Lilly Belew
    Fort Worth, Texas


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