Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Making Word Work count with Word Wallets

Sight word knowledge and practice are key to becoming fluent readers.  Some words simply cannot be decoded and kids need practice to remember how to read/spell those tricky words.  I give my students practice time during Word Work as part of The Daily 5.  I love providing fun ways to practice words like paint in a bag and watercolors. 

I USED to put a ring of sight words in the basket along with the activity.  Students would flip through the ring, find a word and practice it.  I noticed some kids spent a LOT of time flipping through the rings and others simply practiced whatever word was on top...regardless if they knew the word already or not.  These rings weren't the most efficient way of providing the practice my kids needed.

NOW I use a Word Wallet!  Each student starts with list one.  They practice those words during Word Work.  Every couple of weeks I check in and test students on the words.  If they show mastery of a word, I highlight the word on their list and they know to practice the unknown words.  If all the words on a list are mastered, they graduate to the next list.  Some kids move quickly through the lists and others move slowly. 

If you want to use Word Wallets, here are some tips:
1.  Keep a master teacher list for each child!  When I highlight a word on the student list, I also record it on my teacher list.  It makes guided reading lesson planning a breeze!

2.  Quickly write the student's name on the back of the list.  If a list is left in a Word Work bin, the owner can be found quickly.

3.  Send a SECOND copy of the list home so kids can practice the words at home with their family.

4.  Prepare all the lists for the year before the year starts.

5.  Buy extra folders when they are cheap!  I make plenty of extra folders in case I get any move in kids during the year. 

6.  Get a consistent parent volunteer to help you check in with kids.  When mine came I would just hand her my basket and she was ready to roll!  OR, set a consistent schedule and test a few kids each day.

Ready to try it?

The cool thing is that I made it editable!  You can program in what words your kiddos need to know!  Or, use my lists which are based on Jan Richardson's The Next Step in Guided Reading.  The color words are also included along with the label templates to make your folder labels and a schedule template for testing kids.  You can grab it for yourself here.

Using Word Wallets really paid off for my students.  100% of my students met grade level expectation for sight words at the end of the year. 


  1. I just purchased this and love it already. I used the editable one and put in the words our school uses. Easy! I do have one little question...What is the page with Mon-Fri. used for? Thanks so much!
    Andrea :)

    1. Hi Andrea!
      Thanks for your purchase! I threw the Monday-Friday thing in there just in case you wanted to create a schedule for when you meet with kids to test them on their words. :)
      Polka Dot Kinders

    2. Okay, thank you again! :)

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