How to Make a Word Wall In 10 Minutes Flat

 

Have you ever walked into a primary grade classroom and thought to yourself, “Why is this teacher SO obsessed with posting words all over the wall?”  Well, I promise there’s a method to the madness.

 

 

Teachers use word walls as an important tool for helping children learn to read and write:

  • word families (red, ted and bed all end with -ed)
  • common words (the, and, a)
  • names of friends and family members (Sam, Stephanie, Mom)
  • challenging words (elephant, extraordinary)
  • holidays (Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Kwanzaa)
  • … and more

 

Word walls are actually one of teachers’ favorite reading and writing tools because there are so many fun follow up activities that use them.

 

To make your own word wall at home, you’ll need:

  • 1 large piece of poster paper
  • Markers
  • 1 large meter or yard stick
  • (Optional) lamination

 

Lay your paper down on a flat surface.  You need to divide it into 5 rows and 5 columns to make 25 total boxes.  Measure its width.  Divide that measurement by 5 so that you know how wide to make each of your columns.  For example, if your paper is 50 inches across, you would take the number 50 and divide it by 5 to get your answer: each column would be 10 inches wide.  Use the width that you calculated to figure out where to draw long lines down your paper to make columns.

 

Next, measure the length of your paper.  Divide that measurement by 5 so that you know how wide to make each of your rows.  For example, if your paper is 60 inches long, you would take the number 60 and divide it by 5 to find your answer: each row would be 12 inches wide.  Use the width you calculated to figure out where to draw long lines across your paper to make rows.

 

 

And finally, use a different colored marker to write in one pair of upper and lowercase letters in each box (Aa, Bb, Cc).  Since there are 26 letters in the alphabet and only 25 boxes on your word wall chart, the letters Xx and Yy will share a spot.

 

If you’re the laminating type, this is a great project to protect with lamination because it will allow you to easily write and rewrite words that are most interesting, challenging or relevant to your child for years to come.

 

Once your word wall is complete, you are ready to play with it.  Click on the box that best describes your child’s reading level (below) to find activities that are at her just right level.

 

[learn_more caption="For Beginning Readers"]

1. Work with your child to brainstorm names of family and friends. Each time she thinks of a different name, write it in the correct box on the chart. For example, if your child said, “Sam”, you would write the name in the {S} box.

 

2. Each time that your child asks you to spell a word for her, write it down in the correct box on the word wall and ask her to copy it from the wall. Drawing a picture next to the words will help her find it later. For instance, when you write “Mom”, you could draw a quick sketch of yourself next to the word so that your child can quickly find it again.

 

3. Lay the word wall poster on the floor. Give your child a bean bag and ask her to close her eyes and toss it onto the chart. Name the letter it lands on, talk about the sound it makes, and then brainstorm words that start with that sound. Write them on the chart.

 

4. Invite your child to help you brainstorm words she would use in a letter to a friend. A few of my kindergarteners’ favorites were {dear, love, to, from, friend, you}. Write the words on the chart, remembering to draw pictures next to them when you can. Then give your child a piece of paper and invite her to write a letter to someone – looking at the word wall when it’s helpful.

 

5. Help your child memorize common words {the, and, a} by playing Clap, Chant, Write. As the name suggests, you first have her clap a word as she spells it out loud with you. Then have her chant the spelling with you and, finally, have her write it.

[/learn_more]

 

[learn_more caption="For Independent Readers"]

1. Each time your child asks you to spell a word, write it on the chart and then encourage her to copy it down. The word wall will be another resource she can use to become an increasingly independent reader and writer.

 

2. Play Guess My Word. To play, give your child a piece of paper, a pencil and a flat surface to write on. Pick a word from the word wall but don’t tell your child what it is yet. Instead, give her clues about the word you have chosen. Each time you give a clue, she will write down the word she thinks you have selected. She can change her guess after hearing each new clue. For instance, if your word was “their” the game might look like this:

You: “The word starts with T.”

Your child: (Looking at the {T} words, she writes down the word {this}.)

You: “The word has five letters.”

Your child: (After counting the letters in the word {this} she crosses it off, realizing that it only has four. She looks at the {T} words again and writes down the word {thank}.)

You: “The word means, ‘It belongs to them.'”

Your child: (She crosses off {thank} because it does not match that definition and looks at the {T} words again.  She writes down the word {their}.

You: “Yay! You figured out my word was {their}.”

 

3. Make a word wall chain. Before you play, cut (20) strips of colorful paper that are about .5 inch wide and 4 inches long. Invite your child to join you by the word wall. Bring the strips of paper, a pen and a stapler with you. Ask your child to pick a word from the word wall and write it down on a strip of paper. Curl the paper into a circle and staple it to make the first link in your paper chain. Then, ask her to find a word on the chart that starts with the LAST letter of the word she just wrote down. For instance, if her first word was {His}, her next word needs to start with {S}. Have her write down her new word on the next strip of paper and attach it the paper first link in the chain. Encourage your child to continue building her silly – nonsense word wall chain.

 

[/learn_more]

 

Join the Conversation

What other games do you like to play with your word wall?

 

 

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and use your markers and measuring stick to

About Malia Hollowell

Malia is a National Board Certified elementary teacher turned stay at home mama to three young kids {4.5, 3 and 1}. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education {go Stanford!} and spent seven years teaching in a classroom. Since starting Playdough to Plato in 2012, her ideas have been featured in Parenting Magazine, Pinterest's Top Educational Pins and Kiwi Crate.

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