Interactive Word Walls

There are many purposes and designs of word walls depending on the grade level, teacher’s purpose, or student’s interest. The word wall within a classroom is built over time and changes throughout the year according to student’s needs. As the year progresses, words that have been mastered by the students can be removed from the wall and new words added.

Word Wall

Below you will find research-based tips and activities that I have gathered from various sources to help you provide the best instruction to your students to help them learn words meaningfully.

Mind Reader…

Students number their paper 1-5.  The teacher then give clues such as:
1.  I’m thinking of a word on the Word Wall list.

2.  It has 3 letters in it.
3.  It rhymes with hat.
4.  It is an animal.

The students try to read your mind after each clue is given.  They can not erase their answer, but they can write a different answer on each line.  The object of the game is to “read the teachers mind”  before the final clue is given.  For example the student may choose the word “look” after clue #1, but after hearing clue #2 they may decide to change it to “hat”.

Bang!

This is a real favorite in our class! All the sight words we have learned are put in a bag. The children sit in a circle and each take a word from the box. If they can read the word, they get to keep it. If they cannot, the word is returned to the box. If they pull a card with the word Bang! from the box, all the cards they have collected so far must be returned to the box. The child with the greatest number of cards when the game ends is the winner.

Word Wall Bingo #1

Each child has a bingo card with six blank spaces. The children write one word wall word of their choice in each space. Then the words are removed from the wall, placed into a container, and pulled out one by one. If the word that is pulled out is on a child’s Bingo card, that word may be covered with a marker. When the entire card is covered, a child can yell “BINGO!”

Word Wall Bingo #2

This game is done in a small group of 5-7 children. Sight words are written on either 9 word or 15 word cards (cards are laminated so they can be re-used). The teacher picks a word from a box, reads it and uses it in a sentence. If the word is on their card, the children put a marker on that word. The winner is the first child to completely fill his/her card.

Bean Bag Toss

Materials: One shower curtain liner divided into 20 squares, Bean Bag , Words on large cards with small numbers on the corner of each card.
Attach the words to the shower curtain with tape or rubber cement before the game is to be played. Divide the class into 2 teams. Each team will take turns throwing the bean bag to a square. If the student can read the word the bean bag lands on, the team gets the number of points on the card. If the student misses the word, the other team gets the chance to say it. The team with the most points wins the game. 

Around the World

All the students sit in a circle (or in their desks) One student stands behind another student who is sitting. The teacher flashes them a sight word. Whichever child says the word first will move on to the next student. The student who makes it back to his or her own desk or starting point is the winner.

Tic-Tac-Toe

Divide the class into two teams of X’s and O’s. Write sight words in the tic-tac-toe spaces. Team members take turns coming up and selecting a space to read. If the child reads the word correctly, he or she may put up an X or O for his or her team. If the answer is incorrect, the other team gets to send a player to the board to try to read the same word.

An easy alternative to save time and keep the game moving is to have several tic-tac-toe boards made up with words ahead of time on overhead transparencies.

Another alternative is to give each child a blank copy of the tic tac toe board, and put the list of words on the board. The children can place the words wherever they want to on their board. As the teacher calls the words out, she will have to tell the children if the word is an X word or an O word. The first child to get tic-tac-toe is the winner.

Wordo

Materials: Blank “Wordo ” cards with 9, 16, or 25 blocks. Copy of words being studied
Have students fill in their cards with the words that they are working on. Tell them that each card must be different and to try to mix up the words they are using. Playing the game is similar to BINGO. The teacher calls out the words and has the students spell it out loud and then mark their spaces. Spelling the words out loud will give those who are unsure of the word some extra help. The first child to cover an entire row calls out the word “WORDO”! The winner can call out the words the next time.

Baseball

Materials: Sight words at 4 different levels (from simple to more difficult). Make them on different colored cards and have the type of hit that each color represents posted somewhere thateveryone can see it clearly.
Designate different places in the room as 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and homeplate. Divide the students into 2 teams. Designate one team as the home team, and the other as the visitors. Mix up the cards. The children take turns going to the homeplate. Draw out a card and let the child attempt to read the word. If the student can read the card correctly, he or she may move according to the type of hit. (A single: move 1 base, a double: move 2 bases, a triple: move 3 bases, and a homerun: go all the way to homeplate.) Make sure that you have included some strike out cards and walk cards among the word cards. If the student is unable to read the word, it is considered an out. After 3 outs, the next team gets to “Bat”. Keep the score so that everyone can see.

Erasing Relay

Write two columns of words on the board that are approximately equal in difficulty. Include as many words on the board as there are children in the relay. Children are divided into 2 teams, and will stand in two lines at right angles to the chalkboard. At the signal, the first child in each line points at the first word in his respective column of words and reads that word. If he or she reads the word correctly, he or she is allowed to erase that word. The game is won by the side that erases all the words first.

Team Sight Word Race

The children are divided into 2 teams. Each team takes a turn attempting to correctly read a word turned up from a pile of sight words. If one team misses, the opposite team then receives a chance to read that word in addition to their regular turn. Score is kept on the number of words each team reads correctly. Have each team member go to the back of the line after each try whether successful or not. This enables all members to gain equal practice and does not eliminate those people who need practice most.

The Head Chair

Mark one chair in the circle as the “Head Chair”. The teacher shows cards with the sight word on them to the child in the head chair and that child attempts to read the word. A child can stay in this chair only until he misses a word. When he misses a word, he goes to the end chair and all the children will move up one chair. The object of the game is to try to end up in the “Head Chair”.

Sight Word Money

This is a fun way to integrate language arts with money recognition. Divide the children into two teams. Have play money available in the following values: pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars. (I usually start with just 3 amounts) Each money denomination represents a sight word activity with an increasing degree of difficulty. For example: for a penny the child reads the word, for a nickel the child reads the word and acts it out, for a dime the child reads the word and tells its meaning and so on. The first child tells how much money he is playing for. If he answers the question correctly, his team gets the money. If the answer is incorrect, you go back from team to team until it is answered correctly, and that team will get the money. The team with the most money at the end wins.

Vowel Hopscotch

Use chalk to make a hopscotch board outdoors. Write the vowel sounds in the squares. Students toss a bean bag onto the gameboard. They have to hop to the bean bag, say the vowel and the sound, short and/or long. If they say it correctly, they may pick up the bean bag and continue. If the answer is mpt correct, they leave it there for the next child.

Word Wall Tips (online newsletter)

Additional Resources

Guided Reading:  Good First Teaching for All Children, Fountas & Pinnell, 1996 (pgs. 36, 171, 173)

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