My first year teaching I was clueless about word work activities and how to manage them. There was a spot for it on my daily schedule, but I didn’t exactly know what it was or what to do with that time. As I went through my first year, I learned what that time should look like in my classroom. I still fumbled through it at times, but I was learning and trying.
Throughout my teaching career, I’ve learned more about phonics, phonemic awareness, and the importance of those components in your classroom. Let’s chat a little about word work in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms today!
What is Word Work?
Word work is a dedicated time or part of your day where your students get to work with words. During this time, students might be looking for a specific pattern in a group of words, sorting words, manipulating word families, practicing phonics skills, or doing some other type of phonics activity or work.
You might also be doing some phonemic awareness activities with them. This time is so important because students get to see and play with words. Working with words and patterns helps students become stronger readers, writers, and spellers.
When Do I Do Word Work Activities?
Some schools have a specific time during their instructional day allocated for word work. Others integrate word work instruction into the instructional day, usually during the literacy block. I’ve taught in districts that used both methods.
When my district integrated word work instruction, I taught those skills during guided reading and literacy stations. If you are looking for some activities with word work for your literacy stations, I have some HERE. I had to be purposeful in my planning and make sure my students were getting the time to work with words that they needed in order to master phonics skills.
Another district I worked in, had a set time daily for phonics instruction. I loved having this time set aside where I could explicitly teach and model the phonics skill and then give students time to work with it as well. I still tried to include word work activities during guided reading when we had time, but I loved knowing that we would have time to work with words later in the day if we didn’t have time during guided reading.
FREEBIES and Top-Rated Resources To Try
There are so many helpful resources and supplies to make your word work time beneficial for your students and efficient for you! I’ve created several sets of boom cards that address phonics and phonological awareness skills. They are super easy to use, and they’re self-checking. You can find them HERE! There’s even a free deck you can try out.
It’s also helpful to have magnetic letters for each student in a Ziploc ready to go. I had my students keep their magnetic letters with their other supplies, so they were easy to grab. Each student also had a dry erase board and marker as part of their supplies. I used these a ton when we did work with word families.
An Elkonin box template is also very helpful when teaching or reviewing high-frequency words. This helps students orthographically map them which helps them retain them better! You can grab my free Elkonin box templates HERE. I love to print them on colorful paper for a little more fun!
I also have monthly stations for kindergarten that have word work components in them that are already made for you! Grab them HERE!
Phonics cut-and-paste activities are another great choice for word work. You can use them as morning work, independent practice, or in a literacy station. You can find the cut-and-paste bundle HERE. It covers beginning sounds, ending sounds, CVC words, CVCe long vowels, ending blends, beginning blends, and digraphs.
Finally, if you want word work totally planned out for you, check out the Kindergarten Word Work Bundle (Levels A-D) and First Grade Word Work Bundle (Levels E-J). Each of the levels has 10 or more hands-on activities to support word work skills like phonics, high-frequency words, manipulating sounds, and more. You can use these activities in literacy stations, guided reading, intervention time, or 1-1 time. Grab a set or bundle today to be prepared and organized for word work.
Word work is an important part of your day. It’s so important to make sure this time is engaging, meaningful, and explicit for your students.
I’d love to know what you do in your classroom to teach word work and to make it successful for your students. Share your ideas below in the comments!