Word work and teaching reading

Two years ago when my I finished up my degree, and I was contacted by my current principal, that she had a KG and a 1st grade opening, and which would I prefer? I had a panic attack.

First of all, even though I've always wanted to be a teacher, and now I was done with school, and getting offered a position, it was all becoming so real. BUT kindergarten or 1st grade-----don't they learn to read in KG and 1st grade, how am I going to get kids to read, what if I can't get them to read, what if what I do has no impact at all, what if after 180 days of instruction, they can't read whatsoever?--all these thoughts were racing through my mind.

My student teaching experience was in grade 5th and 2nd, so going off experience, I went with 1st. My first year teaching was a whirl-wind. I was a brand new teacher, I had a baby, I feel like I seriously have no recollection of what happened that year.

Then this year started, and if you have read my other posts you know we started a departmentalized model. I teach a certain subject to the entire 1st grade, each marking period this subject changes. First marking period I taught reading, then writing, then math, now I'm closing up the year teaching the reading again. Specifically FUNdations, which is the phonics program from Wilson, and then I pull 2 small groups daily.

The FUNdations program is a very scripted program, however, I truly believe in the power it has had with the progress of our students. During the small group rotation time, the students that aren't working with me are either reading to themselves, or a buddy, on the computers, or doing word work that reinforces the concepts taught that day in FUNdations.

I try to mix it up with the word work for my kiddos, so they don't get bored with the same activity.

 Mondays students play "KA-BOOM" If you aren't familiar with KA-BOOM, you have to try it out. It can be done with anything really from math to reading concepts! I used old Crystal Light tubs, then took popsicle sticks and wrote words on them. I have different 'tubs' for different skills--Kaboom Sight words, Kaboom words with vowel teams, Kaboom words with suffixes, Kaboom words with silent e, Kaboom words with blends and digraphs, and Kaboom words with R-controlled vowel words. My kiddos LOVE these games!! You write Ka-boom on about 2-3 sticks, then the rest of the sticks you write words (or equations for math), then students pull sticks to read them. The sticks they are able to read, they keep, the ones they can't they put back. If they happen to pick one of the Ka-boom sticks, they put all their sticks back, except keeping the Ka-boom stick out (otherwise the game will go on forever!!)
 Tuesdays are spent doing some sort of work with sight words. This week, I had the kiddos write their sight words in shaving cream on their desk. I also have sight word dominos, flashcards, or sight word match up. You can find the Domino Sight Words
 Wednesdays are for building words. I got this really fun construction building words activity from my Scholastic Book Order (with my points of course!) They also enjoy building words with magnetic letters and playdoh, which I alternate every week which way they build their words.

Thursdays are our day to be detectives. During their word work time, they have these 1/2 sheets of paper, and they look through their independent reading materials to fill in words that have the pattern that they are looking for. I apologize I don't have any pics of this word work activity in action, I just added it this past week, and didn't get a chance to snap any photos! I have it printed on card stock and laminated so to reduce paper usage (which is a problem in my school). You can find the Word detective Recording Sheets

On Fridays, I consider that my accountability and formative assessment day. I give them a paper that has a sight word search on one side, and a small reading passage that they have to mark up and identify the words or word patterns we have worked on that week. I collect this, and then am able to reteach as necessary.You can find the Reading Passages here and the Sight Word Search Puzzles

I think whatever the word work you choose for your kiddos, it's important that it matches the skills that you are teaching, that way they are able to connect from things you've said or they have seen into what they are doing.

Some additional word work ideas I have used are "Make a sentence", where students use pocket charts and there is a single word on an index sized card. They can create their own sentences. Fluency reading, where the students read their sentences (on a ring) to a partner 3 times and check it off each time they read. ABC order--helps students to recognize the importance of how to order words so they are in alphabetical order. I have also done task cards that go with what I have introduced, like adding silent e to the word.

It has been amazing to see the progress with all the kiddos from the beginning of the year to now!! I am so excited to watch them grow during these last few weeks of school. Hopefully, you have got some new ideas to add to your word work rotation or center.


  1. Thanks for linking up, Melanie! I love your word work ideas!

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