Word study is no longer the more rote spelling we may remember from when we were in school! Today, word study aims to help students build their communication skills by providing greater access to and interest in words. In word study, students focus on the sounds, letters, spelling patterns, and meanings of words. Students learn the why behind how words work, and the emphasis is on examining and manipulating words. This shift is light-years beyond the memorizing that was once emphasized, which often didn’t “stick” long term or transfer beyond a weekly spelling test. By learning the how and why inherent in the ways words work, students learn not only how to spell, but they also are more likely to transfer this knowledge as they read, write, speak, and listen. The end goal is to become proficient readers and writers and apply knowledge of the inner working of words in all that’s done—both in and out of school. Today’s word study is not only research supported, but it is also designed to increase curiosity, confidence, and capability.
At home, you can support these efforts by having fun while talking, playing, and reading with your child. No “formal” work is necessary. Below are a few suggestions that may seem simple, but yield extremely fruitful results:
• Talk with your child. Don’t shy away from using new and interesting words in your conversations. Explain the meaning of new words using child-friendly language and share different times and places where this word might be used.
• Provide access to all kinds of books and texts. Make frequent trips to the library. Subscribe to a magazine. Read to, with, and beside your child. Kids at this age still need and love to be read to!
• Encourage your child to write regularly. Shopping lists, cards, letters, stories, poems, comics, digital storytelling . . . it all has a positive impact! There is no need to correct spelling, but do encourage your child do use what he or she knows about letters and words for assistance! Mistakes are parts of the learning process, and it is important that we encourage efforts and risk taking.
• Play games together—“word-themed” games bring an added bonus! A few favorites include Apples to Apples, Scrabble and Scrabble Jr., Upwards, Bananagrams, Boggle and Boggle Jr., Read My List, Hangman, Headbands, Heads Up, Mad Libs, and so on.
• Think of as many words as you can that rhyme, have the same vowel sound, have a shared “part,” or follow a particular pattern.
• Hunt for words with a particular part or pattern. This can be done in books (or any print text), conversations, TV shows, and the like.
• Build or write words with something fun. Depending on availability, preferences, and/or allergies, a few options include sidewalk chalk, shaving cream, whipped cream, sand bins, magnetic letters, dry erase markers, shower doors, Legos, cereal—the options are infinite!
• Create riddles. Provide sound, letter, or meaning clues and try to guess the answer to each other’s riddles! For example, “I’m thinking of a word that sounds like skin at the start and car at the end. It is one syllable and a noun that means ‘a mark that remains after a deep cut.’ It was also the name of a character in a famous Disney movie. What’s my word?”
• Get physical: Spell out words while clapping, stomping, hopping, doing jumping jacks, running in place, hula hooping, jump roping, bouncing a ball, throwing and catching a ball—whatever seems fun!
• Create a challenge: Share a word that is new and intriguing. Talk about it, and then try to use the word (appropriately) as many times as possible before breakfast, while at the dinner table, when in the car commuting to and from practices, and so on.
• Make each other laugh by creating puns with homophones and multiple-meaning words. We look forward to continuing to partner together to support your child in becoming a more confident and competent communicator. Thank you for the continued support.
In class we follow the following routine...
- Day 1 - Introduce the new words, their definitions, and parts of speech. The students then cut their words out for future lessons.
- Day 2 - Meaning Day: the students choose which meaning activity they want to do to practice their words...
- Backwards Scattegories - creates connections between words and develops vocabulary
- Shades of Meaning - helps students understand nuances between words and how to use specific and precise words when we speak and write
- Day 3 - Sort: students sort first then teacher starts a sort and once the students notice the patterns they join in. The goal of this activity is for the students to think about the words and notice patterns.
- Day 4 - Multisensory Fun: the students become more fluent with their spelling and have fun and feel playful while we study words. Students practice their words by typing on their chromebook, writing in playdough, drawing them in sand, using magnetic letters, writing in shaving cream, using fancy pens, etc...
- Day 5 - Word Webs & Riddles: the students create word webs for their words. On the web they explain the definition of the word, how the word sounds, and what the word looks like. The students then use the information from their web to form a riddle to ask their partner.
- Day 6 - Application/Informal Assessment: the students read through their Reading or Writing Journals looking for words that follow the pattern they are learning. They highlight the word and celebrate if they spelled it correctly. If it was wrong they correct the word and celebrate even more that they learned something new.
Please reach out with any questions or concerns.