Professional Development

February 18, 2019

Encouraging Writers to Use Wow Words

Encouraging students to expand their vocabulary in writing can be challenging, but with WOW Words it is not!  Read more in this writing blog post to grab an idea for a mini-lesson with your writers workshop.

As you dig into writer’s workshop, I hope you’re seeing your writers blossom and make great strides in their writing! One impactful mini-lesson you’ll want to do with writers in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade is writing wow words. “Wow words” are words outside of their regular vocabulary that make the reader or listener say, “WOW!” For example, using elated for happy. We want to encourage writing “wow words” so students can grow their vocabulary and make their writing more interesting.

“Wow Words” Chart

During writer’s workshop, I would watch for students to use a “wow word” in their writing and choose one student. That writer would take their notebook up to our anchor chart and fill it in. It had three columns: Name, My Spelling, Conventional Spelling. During the sharing part of writer’s workshop, we would chat about that student’s wow word, discuss how they spelled it, and help them stretch it out to spell it conventionally. It was amazing to see how motivated they would be to use wow words so they could have it up on the chart with their name. All you’ll need are chart paper and markers, and you’ll be set to implement it!

Create a WOW words anchor chart with your students to get them to expand their vocabulary and try new fancy words in their writing!

Try It First Dictionary

In my Encouraging Young Writers post, I shared the Try It First Dictionary that one of my fabulous teammates shared with me. This is a similar way to encourage writers to use wow words but on a more individual level. Before I helped a student with a word they wanted to spell but didn’t they could, I would have them try it out in their dictionary first. Then we would chat about it and try to stretch it out together. Friends, this was a game changer! It really helped build my students’ confidence about trying to write harder wow words! You can grab these dictionaries for FREE in the post HERE.

Using a Try It First dictionary has totally changed the attitudes and self esteem of my little writers!

Create a Fancy Word Wall

One fun way to inspire our young authors is to enlist the help of Fancy Nancy. There are many different Fancy Nancy books, but HERE is the original. While reading the book, have students listen for the fancy words.

Write them down on cards and post them on a word wall. I would also let my students decorate the word cards to make them fancy. Then, encourage students to use the fancy, wow words in their own writing. You can even add a few fancy accessories to wear while you read the Fancy Nancy books!

Mini Synonym Anchor Charts

If you start seeing the same words used again and again with your writers, try making a mini anchor chart for each word. Write the common word in the middle – for example, good. Then have students brainstorm synonyms and record them around the common word (great, fantastic, amazing, excellent, super). You can have students add more wow words as the year goes on!

Create a mini-anchor chart with students during writer's workshop to show them all the various words that can be used in place of a simple word. This helps them fancy up their writing!

Encouraging our young authors to write more wow words can be such fun! Remember to keep your mini-lessons brief and to the point. Model thinking through wow words in your own writing, too. You will probably revisit this mini-lesson several times throughout the year to keep encouraging your students to use those wow words!

Encouraging students to expand their vocabulary in writing can be challenging, but with WOW Words it is not! Read more in this writing blog post to grab an idea for a mini-lesson with your writers workshop.

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Happy Teaching,


Writer's Workshop Posters

Grab these FREE writer's workshop guideline posters and be set for beginning writer's workshop!
Use this set of FREE posters for writer’s workshop to help your writers remember important guidelines for writing. You can display them in your classroom for easy reference. Pick them up today!

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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