Working With Words the 4-Blocks Way
The purpose of this block is to
ensure that children read, spell, and use high-frequency words correctly, and
that they learn the patterns necessary for decoding and spelling.
Through the activities in the Working with Words Block, teachers
can assess, monitor, and plan for the needs of the entire group, as well as the
individual students. This ensures students learn the high-frequency words and
engage in activities to learn how words work through strategies such as Making
Words, Guess the Covered Word, Word Wall, and more.
(See our current word wall here.)
or go straight to the links section!
BEGINNING OF THE YEAR~
At the beginning of the year,
we start out by using information about the students. This is done by having a
"student of the day - SOD" (or in our case, a "hiker of the
The class interviews the
student by asking about six questions of them. Questions like: What is your
favorite color? How old are you? What is your favorite thing to do outside? What
is your favorite game? What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite
After the interview, I call on
students to help me write sentences about the SOD. We always begin with the
student's name. I will ask the class to help me spell some common words and
words we write a lot (likes and favorite pop up quite often!).
Then we read the poster as a
choral reading (all together). As the days go by, we read each SOD poster until
we reach 5--then I start putting them up around the room and it becomes part of
our morning routine to get a partner and a pointer and read the posters. (You
can see one of the "retired" posters taped to the chest in the
Next, I write the students name
out on a small sentence strip. We talk about how many letters are in the name,
how many vowels, etc. I cut apart the sentence strip and have the SOD sort it
back into the right order. We cheer the SOD name. I say: Give me a T (T). Give me
an O (O). Give me a M (M). What's that spell? (TOM) Yeahhh!!! Then I have one
boy and one girl sort the name as well.
At the end, we go back to the
seats and watch as I model how to write the SOD name on the board. We
practice writing his/her name five times on our word wall paper and then turn our
paper over and draw a picture of the SOD on the back. These papers go home with
the SOD. During this "handwriting" time, I walk around the room and
point out good letters and give reminders about formations, etc.
The SOD name goes up on our
word wall. These are the only words on our word wall at the beginning of the
year. As we get more names, we do more activities with them. Example: I will
call for everyone with an E in their name to come to the front, holding their
word wall name card. Next, we sort ourselves into names that begin with E, names
that end with E, and names with E in the middle.
LATER IN THE YEAR~
(WWW = word wall word/s)
Our school uses Saxon Phonics. We do the word wall section of the Working
with Words block. We try to get in as many other 4Block activities throughout
the year as we can. Below you will find examples of what we do with the word
wall after all the students have been interviewed (as explained above). We
introduce 5 words a week. These words are common words known as sight words.
At the beginning of the year, we put the words in order together. Later in the
year, the students put the words in ABC order by themselves.
- Teacher introduces 5 words, uses each one in a sentence, and
writes them on the board
- We stand up and "cheer" the words by doing motions as we
spell out each word (the typical one is to snap, clap, stomp each word...but
we do many others to liven things up! Click here to see other ideas!)
- Next, the kids sit back down and write each word on a 1/2 sheet of
handwriting paper (this is part of our handwriting practice time)
- When done, they turn their papers over for the "On the
Back" activity, which is always putting the words in ABC order on the
Tuesday - Thursday
writing this week's words and the students cheer and
write each word
On the Back Activities- rotate through some of the following activities and have
to do with reviewing the words already up on the wall:
Word Families: I pick one or two high pattern words that can make
lots of other words. We transfer what we know about the word wall so
that we can write and read lots of new words.
- Rhymes: Teacher says a word that rhymes with a WWW and students
find the word on the wall and write it on their paper
- Example> The word is sand. What WWW
rhymes with sand? (
- Later...the students must spell the rhyme!
Example> The word is sand. Find the WWW that helps you spell sand
and use the same pattern. (students write sand)
That's right! It is the whole word
since it starts with the vowel. Remember the "pattern"
starts with the first vowel. Now, if I was writing about my baby
sister and wanted to say she was getting "fat", what would
I need to put in front of the pattern? (f)
Great! <write it on
the board> And what if I was describing how "flat" our
tire was after we ran over a nail...what would I put in front of the
pattern? (fl) Good, now if I came across this word while I was
reading...<write the word chat on
board> I would know it was...ch-at! Chat. (Continue until you
have done 5 words or more and have the students write 5 on their
Endings: Suffixes are added to our word wall words.
- Example> The WWW is a high pattern
word. What is the pattern? (
Opposites: Words that mean the opposite of word
wall words are said in a sentence and the student must find the word wall
word and write it on his/her paper.
- Example> Today I play. Yesterday I ...
Sentences: Words are dictated from the word wall, posted around the
room, and/or off the thematic word wall and must be written in sentence
Here Comes The Judge: (The kids LOVE
this one!) I choose one student to be the judge. They get a black robe,
clipboard, and page of stickers and leave the room (mine go to our
in-room bathroom). I choose one of our WWW for the students to write.
Then, the students fold down the top of their papers with their name (so
it doesn't show). I pick 3 to display on the board. Everyone else puts
their papers into a stack on their group tables (so the
"judge" can't see who's is missing). We start chanting,
"Here comes the judge. Here comes the judge. Here comes the
judge." On the 3rd time, the "judge" comes out and I say,
"All rise." The judge, very ceremoniously, walks to the front
of the room and says, "You may be seated." Then, he looks at the
three papers and chooses which one is the "best," marking it
with a sticker. That student is then made the judge for another round. I
usually can only practice 3 WWW this way, but the kids love it! After
the first few times, I don't tell them when we are going to play judge,
I just practice 5 words on the front, then announce we are playing judge
for the remainder of our time. I can get through all 5 words...and you
should see the handwriting improve!
- Example> He is not my enemy, he
- Be a Mindreader: (This is always a favorite!) I give 5 clues about
one of our word wall words and the children try to guess it by or before
the 5th clue.
- 1st clue: It's a word wall word.
- 2nd clue: It begins with a "b"
- 3rd clue: It ends with an "e"
- 4th clue: It has two syllables
- 5th clue: It fits this sentence: I like
you ___ you are nice. (The only word on the word wall that will
fit all the clues is because.)
- Hink Pinks (Later in the year!) I give
a clue about two words that rhyme and have the same meaning as the clue
words. The kids can work together in their table groups to come up with
the right answer.
- Clue: A large kitten --- A "fat
- Clue: A chicken fence --- A "hen
- We have a spelling test over our 5 words for the current week. (From
memory). Then I choose 5 WWW to review and call them out. These words are ON
the word wall in plain view, but must be correctly identified and written on
the paper. Later I will give a word that rhymes and has the same pattern as
a WWW and the student must "transfer" their knowledge of the known
WWW to the new word. I usually give a bonus word that goes along with the skills we
have been going over in our Saxon phonics. Later in the year we also write a
sentence using WWW and unit words (displayed on another board)
- (Note--tests do not begin until 2nd quarter.
First quarter, we are still working on the front and back activities.)
4Blocks Activities for
after the Word Wall portion
- Making Words
- The teacher chooses a big word (usually
thematic) and then comes up with lots of words that can be made with
those letters. Starting with the smallest words, the students make
the words with their own letter tiles. The teacher walks around the
room and chooses one student that has the word spelled correctly to
put an index card of the word up on the pocket chart and spell it
with the bigger letters on the chart. This continues until they are
ready for the mystery word. The teacher lets them try to figure this
one out. If no one does, tell them the word. After all the words are
up on the chart, sort for beginning letter sounds, vowel sounds,
blends, word families, etc. Next, transfer the knowledge of these
words into 2 words they can read and 2 they can write.
- Example> We have the word red.
Now, if you saw this word in a book you were reading, you
could figure it out...b*ed.
Also, if we have the word pig
and you wanted to write a story about a time you dressed up and
wore a wig,
you could write it. Have a student come up and write the new
beginning sound on the index card and place on the chart.
This is how I organize my letter tiles (from SAXON) for
Making Words. I have
two utility boxes with one letter per box. As you can see, there are a few
extra empty ones at the end. This is great for when you have a word with more
than one of the same letter. I put some into the extra bins.
Distribution of tiles: The day we have a making words
lesson, I put out the bins of letters, vowels first, then consonants, on the
table. The students must pick up one letter out of EACH bin, regardless if
they already have that letter! Pick up the tiles in order, then put them in a
small plastic container with a lid until it is Words time.
During the lesson: I use my SAXON Math offices (for wandering eyes!). Another suggestion is to open up a file folder
and cut it into thirds (lengthwise). Turn up a small lip at the bottom and
staple to form a letter tray.
- Rounding Up the Rhymes
- We read a rhyming book together (usually
after reading it for SSR). When the students hear a pair of rhyming
words, we all say, "Yee-haw!" and act like we are waving a
lasso above our heads. I write the two words on index cards and my
"sheriff" puts them into the pocket chart. After we have
found all the rhyming pairs, we decide if we can keep them in the
corral or not! They must have the same patter to stay. If not, (like
bear and care) the sheriff takes them out and rips them up. After we
determine what pairs can stay, I write a few more words on the cards
that follow some of the same patterns. We add them to the pocket
chart. We also come up with words we could write using the same
patterns. This one is another favorite!
Check out this site to practice your WWW! You can change
the words that are displayed by following the directions on the page. Try
putting in review words, too!
Phonics - Online Activities
Homework Information Packet or Coding
Chart Learn what all
those marks mean!
Sounds Hear the 31 essential vowel sounds your child should know
Words and Pictures A wonderful phonics site with online games and
Mix-Up Put the sentences in the correct order.
Spelling Rules Songs to help your child remember spelling rules and a
practice section at the bottom of the page (We have done these in class and the
kids love them!)