Do you struggle with vocabulary instruction or let it slide entirely? If you want to boost students’ reading comprehension, you need to revive vocabulary instruction. It can be challenging to make vocabulary instructions engaging. One of my tools for doing that is interactive word walls.
Interactive word walls are just what they sound like — a wall where you post words. Words should be in large letters and in a simple font and visible to all students. Word walls often include high-frequency words, commonly mixed up words, and vocabulary words.
Subject-focused interactive word walls
While you may think of vocabulary as part of literacy, students, of course, need to build vocabulary for other subjects, such as social studies, math, and science. When you add words to your word wall, don’t pick them willy-nilly.
Pick words related to your reading and learning. For example, if you are teaching a science lesson or unit on natural disasters, you might add words like earthquake, tsunami, and drought to your interactive word wall. These are words that you will define and use throughout your lesson or unit.
In fact, we have a new resource about natural disaster words for word walls in your classroom. Check out Natural Disaster Words | Word Wall Cards with Definitions.
Word wall cards in this set include the word, an image, a definition, and the word used in context. There are also blank cards, so you can add your own words or have students create them as part of their practice. Use the cards for review or for any of the word wall activities and games described below.
Natural Disaster Words | Word Wall Cards with Definitions pairs beautifully with Natural Disasters Research Project PRINT & DIGITAL. Get a full lesson plan to teach research projects about natural disasters and enhance that learning with the natural disasters word wall cards. Continue to expand vocabulary practice in this area with Natural Disasters Vocabulary | Find the Definition Gallery Walk.
Interactive word wall activities and games
Once you have the words for your classroom word wall, you need to use it. An interactive word wall should be, well, interactive. The more you engage with the word wall in the classroom, the more students interact with and learn the words.
On the simplest level, students can refer to the word wall when they are writing to find the spelling of a word they have learned or to remember new words you’ve introduced. To reinforce the context of vocabulary words, have students select words from the word wall in the classroom and use them in complete sentences.
Want to make it more fun? Try:
Word Wall Scavenger Hunt—Create a list of clues or definitions related to some of the word wall words. Direct students to find the corresponding word on the word wall. You could have students write the word on their clue list or have students stick the definition next to the word on the word wall.
Word Wall Relay Race—Divide the class into teams. Place word wall words at one end of the room and definitions at the other. Students take turns racing to match words with their definitions and bring them back to their teams.
Guess the Word Wall Word—One student selects a vocabulary word from the word wall and either acts out the word, as in charades or gives clues. Other students try to guess the word.
Word Wall Tic-Tac-Toe—Create a tic-tac-toe grid with word wall words. In order to place their X or O on the grid, students must use the word in a sentence or provide a definition.
Word Wall Stories—Have students write a story using as many Word Wall words as they can, or give them a certain number to incorporate. You could also make this a group activity where each student adds a sentence to the story that they say aloud. The story can be silly, but the word must be used correctly.
If you have a word wall in your classroom, how else do you use it?