Although extremely valuable, word work can get redundant if students are repeating the same activity week after week. Ideally, a mix of activities will increase engagement and students will start to look forward to working with new words. In terms of implementation, the weekly vocabulary and spelling practice ideas listed below can take many forms. The objective remains the same whether students are completing their work on paper or with a computer.
Give students an opportunity to play with and manipulate letters to form new words using the wordsmith activity. Students try to spell as many words as they can using the letters in a specific word. For example, if your vocabulary words are related to a chapter on the Civil War, students would try to spell as many words as possible using the letters in “Civil War”. Adding a time limit isn’t necessary, but it adds a fun twist!
Ultimately, manipulating the letters to form new words will strengthen decoding skills, improving reading fluency and comprehension.
The storytime activity requires students to correctly use their vocabulary or spelling words in a fictional narrative. Integrating the news words into a cohesive story is effective because it provides students with a strong frame of reference for understanding and integration. Basically, it forces students to apply their knowledge of the word’s meaning rather than simply recall or memorize a definition. The average student learns 3,000 words per year, but only 10% are acquired through direct instruction. The rest are learned contextually. Learning to utilize context clues when determining word meaning is an essential aspect of the vocabulary development process.
Word scramble activities reinforce phonemic awareness, pattern recognition, and spelling skills. Word scrambles and word searches provide similar benefits and can be used interchangeably. As students develop the ability to look for consonant clusters and vowel combinations, they will become more adept at unscrambling words.
A to Z
The A to Z activity forces students to make connections between words. First, a focus word is introduced. It can be one of the new spelling/vocabulary words students are learning, or it can be an overarching thematic word. Next, students think of words (one for each letter of the alphabet) related to the focus word, earning points for each word added. When students have completed as many letters as possible, points are totaled to get a final score. Time constraints can be added to make the A to Z activity more challenging.
Definition and Sentences
Requiring students to record definitions and sentences for each of their vocabulary or spelling words will help them build a strong foundation for future learning. I like to think of it as a jumping off point. The initial exposure will be extremely helpful when it comes time to access and apply the new words.
Developing a word grid will provide students with a point of reference when working with the new words in future assignments. To set up your grid, add each new word in the far left column and individual word activities in the other columns. The number of columns will depend on the number activities (definition, part of speech, synonym(s), antonym(s), sentence, and/or a picture).
The pictionary activity requires students to create a visual dictionary. Connecting a picture to each word will reinforce learning and support recognition. When students create their own visual representations, they are developing an association with the word that they will be able to draw from when needed.
Word of the Week
Dive deep with a weekly word study. Focusing on a different part of the word each day will give students an in-depth glimpse into the meaning and use of each word. Ideas for daily activities are similar to the word grid ideas described above including definition, part of speech, synonym(s), antonym(s), sentence, and/or a picture.
Click here to download all eight digital spelling and vocabulary templates from Literacy in Focus on TpT. Use them with any list of words!
Reinforce spelling and vocabulary instruction with digital activities! Eight spelling and vocabulary activity templates are included for use with any list of words! Use these editable worksheets in your Google Classroom for weekly spelling or vocabulary practice. All directions and text boxes are editable, so you can customize them to meet your specific needs.