Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make any wall a word wall!

If you have a wall with nothing hanging on it, and a preschool aged kiddo that loves books and language play, you have got to check out word walls.  If you Google "word wall," all kinds of images come up.  Word walls are exactly what they sound like - they are an area where you display words, usually.  All you need is some alphabet cards and some word cards, and something to stick them to the wall.

I have done a different twist on it in my own classroom when I was teaching 2's. I used pictures.

Picture "word" wall

The only words I used in this picture word wall were the kids' names.  The rest were pictures of things that began with each letter's sound.  We did short vowel sounds - A for Alligator, E for Elephant, I for Igloo, O for Octopus, U for Umbrella.  With consonants we focused on the most common sound - for example, the hard "k" sound of the letter C.

RJ is three and is ready for sight words.  Sight words are the most common words you see in print.  Since the English language has some pretty complicated rules, "sound it out" isn't always an option for beginning readers.  Just like we memorize addition fact and multiplication tables in order to speed up the process of doing more complicated math, we memorize sight words in order to built speed and fluency with reading. 

RJ has been working with a great teacher all year, and I have been working with him this summer, so I decided to check out and see what sight words he knows and put those words on our word wall to start with.  Boy was I surprised!

Sight Words Word Wall
These are the words RJ knows so far.  Most of them are sight words but he also knows milk, hit, and play. All together, there are 27 words on the wall!  He knows many of the words on the Preprimer list of Dolch Sight Words. 

We are using our word wall to reinforce the words RJ already knows, and then he is using those words in other learning situations.  When we read a book, I trail my finger along the print and pause when I come to a word he knows, so we do a shared reading of the text.  We take words like at, it, and in and play word addition - for example, c + at = cat. You write C, make the sound, write at, and say "at," then blend the word together to make "cat."

I love working with my beginning reader.  He is so excited about his word wall, and I can't wait to see what words we add next!