Fresh and Fun Word Work to Help Your Reader Bloom

Yesterday, I did a parental involvement presentation with our first and second grade parents, and the topic for the evening was “Preventing Summer Learning Loss”.  I shared with the parents tips on how to weave in time for reading, a list of recommended books for the summer, and information about what’s happening at our school and in our community.  I also shared with them some literacy manipulatives for word work and modeled how they might find and use them.  The answer to where to find most…The Dollar Tree! In fact, I will be sharing lots of ideas you might make for your classrooms in a post over at Literacy Land on Saturday, so be sure to drop by.  
Today’s focus though is a follow up to this workshop.  I am going to share the link to this post with the parents who came to show them how they can work on word building this summer.  After all, kids look at these activities as play (and we want to keep it that way since learning is fun!).  
wb2-5867788The first idea came from my friend Nikki over at Teaching in Progress.  Her little guy is starting kindergarten in the fall. He and his brother got hours of entertainment out of constructing this mansion out of boxes in her backyard.  Where does word building come into play with this? Well, it’s in the labeling and letters that they wrote back and forth for the mail slot.  Worried about the mess??? Guess what…you can paint with water on any dry surface and the words will show up and disappear as the water evaporates.  It’s a great lesson in the water cycle too!
wb3-9141198I love this next idea from Teresa at Confessions of a Teaching Junkie.  Notice the solo cups fit neatly in the Pringles can turned Sightword Storage.  Working on rhyming words, short or long vowel families??  No problem…put the words on the cups and sort them first.  You can make a great long o tower and then have your child read and identify the patterns.

From I Teach Kinder

Another solo cup option is to layer two together…word family on top cup with a notched out part to the left of it.  Beginning sounds go on the inside cup to build rhyming words. 


This cute activity would be an easy one to make. All you need is a sharpie, ping-pong balls and the egg carton.  When you’re finished making words, just close the lid for storage. I can see this being a great game to play too if you have a discard bag with all the extra ping-pong balls in. Kids pull out random balls, make words with the letters needed for points, put them back into the bag for the next player.  Can’t make a word?? Well, then you forfeit your turn and draw one next time.  (or whatever rules you find works).

wb6-6602698wb10-2602307Cookie sheets and magnetic letters can keep kids busy forever.  I recommend building both real and nonsense words because then students learn to see the chunks of sounds in more complex words later on.  Multi-syllable words are demonstrated in the second picture to the right so you can see what I mean. You can also use food trays such as the one to the right for single and multisyllable words.  I also love this post from Emily at Curious Firsties, and I have used her idea quite a bit with tutoring students with much success. It is a great thing when students begin to see chunks of sound and quickly work through longer words.


The next option is great for repurposing those Legos or Duplo blocks you have lying around. One tip…have all vowels the same color so that patterns sink in.  Notice that the picture shows cemented sounds on one block (ck, ee, sh, th). Want to make a game of it?  See if you can make words in other directions too.

The picture on the right is of a word slider.  Kids need help sometimes with blending sounds to make word. By simply wrapping word cards with a cardstock “envelope”, you can practice blending.


In this picture, you’ve got a few recycle options…
Plastic eggs can be used long after Easter with the help of a few adhesive letters or a sharpie. The word family goes on one part of the egg and the beginning sounds on the other. That same idea is demonstrated with the toilet paper rolls. Who knew??

Kids love playdough, and I think this is a fun way to practice sightwords and word building.

Connect Four just got a new use.  Kids love that game, and what a fun challenge it would be to see how many words you can make (in more than one direction).


Got paint chip samples?  There are a bazillion ways to use them in education. Just type in paint chip DIY ideas, and I am sure you’ll have a full page of things you can make and do with them. This is one of my favorites.

For additional word building ideas, you can visit my Word Study Pinterest board.  It includes all of these ideas and more.


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