A word wall is a systematically organized collection of words displayed in large letters on a wall or other large display place in the classroom. It is a tool designed to promote group learning. A word wall consists of words that young children frequently see when reading and use when writing. Each week words are added to help children appropriate spelling and sight word recognition skills. Some words help children learn rhyming word families (at, hat, fat, cat, that, etc.), while others do not follow phonetic spelling patterns.The purpose is to help children learn to spell high frequency and vocabulary words and begin to use the in their writing. It is appropriate for kindergarten, and can easily be adapted and used for cildren in higher grades as well.
There really are no set "rules" for how to set up word walls and you will find plenty of variations on the idea from classroom to classroom. Some teachers will put words under the alphabet. For those teachers who are short on space, a portable word wall on a shower curtain, a rolling cabinet, folding cardboard, or even individual word walls for each student on tri-fold cards can be used. No matter what method of posting the words, the important thing is that children are exposed to a print rich environment that provides them with the tools they need to read and write more effectively. A variety of activities can be used to help the children learn their words. You can use many of the ideas on the previous page. On this page you will find some more ideas that relate to how you can use the word wall in the classroom to teach new sight vocabulary, and how students can learn to use these words in context.
Introduction of New Words: Clap, Chant, Write
New Word Wall words are introduced by having the students:
see the word
say the word
chant the word
write the word
check the word
Each student numbers their paper from one to five. The teacher will give clues about one of the word wall words, and each time the children write their guess next to the number. For your first clue, always give the same clue: "It's one of the words on the word wall." The teacher gives successive clues. By the fifth clue, everyone should have "guessed" the mystery word! However, if they can "Read Your Mind" they might be able to guess the word before the final clue.Do the same for each of the five words.
Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check
The children take a paper with 4 columns (they can fold a page in half and then in half again). The teacher will give them 5 words from the word wall which the children will write in the first column The students willSAYeach word and notice the parts of the word as they hear it. Next they will LOOK at the word to notice what it looks like on the paper. After that they will COVER the word and think about how the word looks. After that they will WRITEthe word from memory. Next they will uncover the word and CHECK it with the word written in the first column. Finally they will COVER
the word and WRITE it again. This brain-friendly activity is great for getting these words into long-term memory.
The teacher chooses 5 words from the word wall. In our version 5 children (the cheerleaders) hold alphabet letters and face the class. The teacher calls out the first letter of a word. The child holding that card steps forward with his/her letter. Each successive letter in the word is called out until the entire word is spelled. First thwe cheerleader and then the entire class will spell and then say the word as a cheer. The class continues with the remaining word. Try to let each of the children have a turn being the cheerleader.
In this activity new Word Wall words are added to previously introduced words a "Word Jar" (in our class we use a basket). Students pick a word out of the jar. They need to read the word and chant the spelling. This activity is great as a filler when ypou have a couple of free minutes. We use it when dismissing the children. Each of them does a word before he or she can go stand in line.
Start off the game by turning off the lights and pointing the flashlight at a particular word on the Word Wall. The teacher calls on a student to read the word. When the child has read the word, it is their turn to shine the flashlight on a word and call on another student to read. The children really enjoy this because they get a chance to "be the tewcher."
Word Wall Chain
This activity focuses on changing beginning and ending sounds (a visual extension of an open court auditory activity. Each child is given 5 strips of colored construction paper. One child chooses ANY word from the Word Wall. The children write this word on one of the strips.Additional children take turns choosing other words which begin with the last letter of the previous word. this is continued until all the strips have words on them. These are then glued together to make a chain.
This activity is especially helpful for learning word families. The children are given strips of grid paper. They cut off 3 squares. In the middle and last squares they write the ending sound of a word family (such as __a t). The children will write one beginning sound in each successive square. These are cut up and the children can exchange the beginning sounds to make different words bat, cat, fat, hat...and so on. These are used in class and then placed in an envelope amnd sent home with the children
Rhyme with the Word Wall
The teacher says a sentence which contains a word that rhymes with one of the Word Wall words and is spelled with the same pattern. Children must decide which word rhymes and how to spell it. For example the teacher might say: "This is a word that begins with m and rhymes with fan" The children write the coorect word. Then as a class we chant the spelling of each of the words.
My students have generally loved this activity. I have usually generate the word search for them using eith the either the Microsouft office classroom tools or online using Discovery School's Puzzlemaker. Another way to make a word search with slightly older children is for each child to make one and then trading with another student. The children highlight each word or color it in with a crayon when they find it,,
Find the Word
Teacher chooses a word from the Word Wall. Say the word, then, using a pointer stick, tap and say several letters in that word but not the whole word: fit f-i-. Call on a student to finish speling the word out loud: "t" If the student correctly finishes spelling the word, that child gets to call out a word, tap and spell the word and call on another student to finish. Do several additional words.
Using Words in Context
Call out or write out several words that begin with the same letter, such as: went want was what where.
Tell students that they will have to decide which word makes sense in the sentence. Say a sentence leaving out one of the words.
Students decide which word makes sense. Depending on the age and grade of the children, there are several options: the teacher writes the sentences on the board; A child writes the sentence on the board; All the children write the sentence/