Word work is just what it sounds like—students actively engage in working with words. It sounds simple, but word work activities encompass a lot:
- Working with phonics sounds or patterns
- Learning high-frequency words
- Practicing reading, writing, and spelling words
- Exploring word families
- Identifying and using prefixes and suffixes
Word work activities help students become better readers and writers. There are lots of ways to engage students in word work in your classroom. Let’s look at some of the best activities for word work centers as well as word work ideas that students can do at home.
Activities for word work centers & home
Games, hands-on activities, word work activity sheets … let’s dive into some fabulous word work ideas.
Word work games
- Phonics bingo
Create bingo boards with words for whatever you are practicing—CVC words, VCC or other common pattern words, high-frequency words, alternate spellings, digraphs, or long vowel sounds. Play by giving students clues that they have to use to mark off words on their bingo cards. Or segment the words and have students blend the sounds to find the word.
- Roll Read Write
You’ll need a grid of words, each column topped with a number (or picture of a side of a die.) Students roll the die, and choose a word from the appropriate column to read and write.
- 4-in-a Row
You’ll need a spinner and a blank grid. Students spin the word spinner, read the word, and write it anywhere they want in the grid. The first person to get 4-in-a-row wins. Find more about 4-in-a-Row and other CVC word games.
And here are more word work games (and they’re free!) you can use in word work centers: Spelling Challenge Game.
Hands-on word work activities
Do you have students who need to use their hands and move things around? Are you looking for non-pencil and paper activities?
Try playdough word mats. Adding playdough word mats to your word work centers gives kids lots of practice segmenting and blending words and writing them too. Students read the word on each sheet, make it with playdough, and then use a dry erase marker to trace the word and then write it independently.
Phonics puzzles are another word work center option. Students piece together word puzzles that include letters and images. Students practice segmenting and blending as they read the word and then write the puzzle words for additional practice.
Cootie catchers are always popular. Students can use them alone or in pairs or small groups. They get practice segmenting, reading, and writing words.
What about word sorts? Word sorts can be a pen and paper activity, but if you use word cards and card categories, students can manipulate the words. Have students sort by vowel sound or spelling of a sound with alternate spellings. Alternately give students a set of words and ask them to sort and explain the categories they created. Ask students if they can think of other words for each category.
Word work activity sheets
Sometimes a simple worksheet is just what you need for independent work or to send home with students. Even within that category, you can add variety to your word work activities. For starters, you can have students draw and match the words, fill in missing sounds, read and write the words, finish sentences, or use a fluency board. These are useful whether students are doing CVC word work, long vowel word work, or digraph word work.
If you’re after more word work games, puzzles, and worksheets, you’ll find them along with math games and activities, science lessons, classroom management tools, teacher self-care, and more in the Top Notch Teaching Members Club. When you join, you have quality, done for you tools at your fingertips, with new ones added regularly. Download what you need, print and go! Get all the details and join here.