Teach important early literacy skills with word work. These fun and engaging word work activities are perfect for your literacy centers!
5 Important Word Work Activities to Implement in K-2
As a primary teacher, I’m sure that one of your goals is to create a strong literacy program. You research and plan, and work hard to provide a strong foundation for reading and other language skills in your classroom.
We all know how vital literacy skills are in grades K-2. That is why I have gathered together some fun and engaging word work activities to share with you! The activities will help you build a strong program.
Word work is – or should be – an important part of your daily curriculum. Lessons and activities can center on sight words, word families, spelling words, phonics activities, etc. Word work is simply: working with words! It unusually involved hands-on activities where children “work” with forming words.
There are many patterns in words that show up in the study of word families and phonics. Also, some words we teach “by sight.” To help you decide what to include in your word work lessons, you can check out this helpful article: Teaching a Word Study Program.
Below are 5 important word work activities that I hope you will find useful in your classroom! There are a few ideas for the different types of word work you may enjoy adding to your daily routine.
Have a weekly spelling list for students to work on, which is assessed at the end of the week. The reasoning behind this is that repetition of specific spellings of similar word patterns is a key to learning them.
The list doesn’t have to be lengthy, either! 5 words will suffice, although many teachers choose to use ten or fifteen. For this to work, it’s helpful to include words with a similar spelling pattern together.
Here are a few specific ways to practice spelling words.
- Rainbow Writing – Have students lay out their markers in rainbow order. Then, given the list of spelling words for the week, the students write all of the words (down the left side of the paper) with red. Next, they will write them all in orange beside those. Then yellow, and so on. By the end, they will have a rainbow of spelling words!
- Finger Painting – Have students copy down their spelling words on a big piece of paper. Then let them finger paint over their words- tracing each one with their finger!
- Sand Words – Have kids “write” their spelling words with their fingers in a shallow tray of sand.
- Clap It Out – Spell words aloud, while clapping each letter you say.
- Alphabetical Order – Have students put their spelling words in alphabetical order. This gives them practice their words and also helps them work on an important skill.
Sight words are generally those common words that students will often encounter in their reading. It is important to learn sight words because they help build fluency. Follow a list of words that your school has adopted, or try Dolch or Fry’s lists.
Use these ideas to make learning sight words fun.
- Sight Word Letterboxes – Use these worksheets to help kids identify the shape of the sight words. They must choose the word that fits in the correct box.
- Sight Word Swat – Write sight words on the board and then kids take turns swatting the sight word that is called out with a (clean) fly swatter!
- BINGO – Always a fun game, BINGO can be played with sight words! First one to fill up their card wins!
- Scavenger Hunt – Have students search for sight words around the classroom, school, or home.
- Floor is Lava – Place circles around the floor of the room with sight words on them. The teacher calls out a word and students must look around and jump to that word without touching the floor. Bonus: this is a great gross motor activity!
A great tool for teaching a large number of words is the use of word families. These are words that have a common spelling or sound pattern. The following activities get kids working with word families and learning these important spelling patterns and phonetic sounds.
Try these word families activities this week!
- Children’s Books – Find books that offer lots of practice on word families (Think: Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks). The rhymes are fun to read together!
- Word Family Flower – Students cut out a circle for the center of a flower. They will write the word family ending that you are currently working on, in the middle. Then, they will cut out petals and write one word from the word family per petal. Glue the petals around the center to create your word family flower!
- Letter Tiles – Using letter tiles, especially magnetic ones that you can use on a pan, is a great way for kids to interact with word families. Give them a challenge of making as many short i words as they can think of, for example.
- Stamps & Playdough – Students can use letter stamps to “stamp” words in playdough that are part of the word families that you are studying. Alternatively, encourage kids to roll and form letters using pieces of playdough.
- Dry-Erase Boards – Kids always enjoy writing on dry erase boards. Give them the task of writing as many short o words as they can think of in 30 seconds, for example.
Word Work Activities for Literacy Centers
Literacy centers are wonderful for practicing words and spelling patterns! By being deliberate with our literacy center planning and providing lots of good opportunities for word work, we will engage students as they actively learn the material.
Try putting some of these word work activities into your literacy centers.
- Paint Bag – Kids will love this fun activity! Pour paint into a ziplock bag. Seal it securely, taping the top down. When flattened, the bag will provide a squishy surface. Call out a spelling word and let kids “write” the word on their bag with their finger.
- Playdough Mats – On each mat, students will find a sight word, a place to write the word, and then, a place to form the word with playdough. A great hands-on activity!
- Color By Word – These coloring sheets are sure to be a hit! They use the sight word key to know what color to use for the picture.
- Lego Letters – Write a letter on each lego. Kids then connect legos together to form words from their spelling list.
- Magic Writing – Students write their words with a white crayon. Then, rub a marker over the word to make it magically appear!
Word work activities are essential!
By interacting with words daily, students build a strong knowledge base that will strengthen their reading skills. The key is to use fun and engaging activities that challenge the students to think and provide plenty of practice.
Which activity will you try? There are many great resources and ideas out there to make word work a daily part of your instruction. The reinforcement from regular practice is crucial for building strong literacy skills.
Check out our resources designed to make implementing word work in your classroom fun and engaging. To get you started, check out the resources below!
Word Work Activities to Try Today!
In just a few minutes a day, kids get the practice they need to practice important early literacy skills. The word work is built right into these no-prep activity mats!
Start now! You can download this set of word mats and easily implement daily word work into your routine.
Click the image below to download a free sample!
More Word Work Activities
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