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Word Walls and Pointers

Updated on September 30, 2013

Walls of Words for Beginning Readers

Word walls are a collection of words for beginning readers to use to promote learning in reading and writing.

Word Walls are most effective when the children help to generate them. This lens will point out various types of Word Walls used in classrooms, how they can be used to promote reading and writing and suggest ways they can be used in homes or for homeschoolers.

Photo Credit: Word Wall by magerleagues

on Flickr, Creative Commons.

Back to School Word Wall - Ready to post High Frequency Words on the Word Wall

Word Wall Organization
Word Wall Organization

Photo Credit: Word Wall by kissyface

on Flickr, Creative Commons.

On the first day back to school the word wall is waiting for words. Introduce words slowly. Introduce the words that children most often use and need to spell and read. Five new words per week seem to work best. Add the names of the children in your classroom or family if you are homeschooling. Make up games and activities that use these words. Make playing with the word wall words a fun part of each day.

Organize Your Words - Word Walls Organize the Words children are learning to read and spell.

Word walls are a collection of words for beginning readers to use to promote learning in reading and writing.

There are several types of word walls that can be used in the classroom such as ABC words, names, high-frequency words, word families, etc.

Words can be overlayed with yellow, blue and red acetate paper.

High-Frequency Word Wall

Words on the high-frequency word wall are taken from Frys 1st hundred word list. 5 new words are added to the word wall weekly.

The children do a variety of activities with the


As the words are added to the word

wall the children are responsible for spelling the words correctly in their daily writing.

Mrs. Lynch's first grade class uses these fun activities with the word walls.

Guess the word...Give clues such as:

It is on the wall.

It has 3 letters in it.

It rhymes with hat.

It is an animal.

etc. The kids write the word when they figure it out.

Ready, Set, Spell...

Say a word from the wall.

Together say, ready, set,spell.

Spell the word together.

Word Wall Bingo...

Make a tic, tac, toe grid (9 spaces)

Children choose 9 words from the word wall that

they know and write them in the grid.

Teacher randomly calls out words from the wall.

The first player with all 9 words covered wins.

Find more activities here.

You can find more ideas for Word Walls at Starry Starry Night and Frogs: Hopping to Learn! .

Classroom Word Wall

Word Wall
Word Wall

Photo Credit: Word Wall by magerleagues

on Flickr, Creative Commons.

Teaching Words for the Word Wall - Word Wall Words

We practice the words by clapping, snapping and chanting,

At the second grade level, teachers introduce five words each week. Students read the words and spell them out loud while clapping at the consonants and snapping at the vowels.

Different activities are also done every day with the five words that make their way to the classroom's word wall on Friday.

The goal is to have the students be able to spell the words instantly and automatically.

Personal Word Wall - Mini Office Word Wall

Mini Office Word Walls are ideal for teaching small groups, using at individual desks or for homeschoolers who don't have room to devote to teaching.

Having the words close can help children find the words they are looking for when writing.

Children can add words that are important to them; the words they use most often but don't yet know how to spell.

Word Wall Activities

Guess the Word Wall Word....


1. It is on the wall.

2. It has 3 letters.

3. It rhymes with sat.

4. It is an animal. etc.

"Ready, Set, Spell"

1. Say a word from the Word Wall

2. Everyone writes down the word.

3. Then together say ready, set, spell and we all spell the word.

Whisper and Shout: Children begin reading the words on the word wall in a whisper but gradually increase the volume until they are shouting the last word.

Note: If you teach the children how to do a theatrical shout, kind of a shouting whisper with lots of expression on their faces it will make the activity exciting without disturbing the classes around you and keep the class under better control. We call it a Classroom Shout.

More Word Wall Activities

Children love using flashlights so why not put it to good use by letting them focus the light on Word Wall Words. Here is a chant that my children love to sing as they hunt for high frequency words on the Word Wall.

Photo Credit: Frog Tongue

On WPClipart

Flashlight, flashlight, oh so bright,

Shine on a word with all your light.

I'm Thinking of a Word Wall Word

A Word Wall Game

1. I'm thinking of a Word Wall Word that begins with h.

2. It has a short vowel in the middle.

3. It is something you do when you greet a friend.

Attributes that could be included in the clues might include: prefixes, suffixes, double consonants, silent letters, blends, etc. They could be: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, plurals, compound words, foreign words, opposites, etc

Once the children get the idea of how to play the game this activity can be used during center time.

Note: I like to leave clues for a substitute teacher on what clues the children have learned so far.

Master Mind Word Wall

1. Pass out lined paper.

2. Teacher tells a clue such as "I'm thinking of a word that starts with h"

3. Children write their first guess on the first line.

4. Now pick a student to ask a question and all children write their next guess on the second line.

Continue with clues/guesses (examples: It ends with a silent e. It has two syllables. It rhymes with, etc.).

By the fourth clue, everyone should have the correct word. It is very important to model this activity.

Bell Chime Word Wall

Pick a list to spell. Assign vowels to one group (boys, girls, this side of the room, etc.) and consonants to another. As you spell each word, the children stand and chant their assigned letters and then sit down. This is an excellent way to practice spelling while getting the wiggles out!

Note: I like to show them a short video of Bell Ringers in order to help the children get the idea. As they say their letters they pretend to ring a bell and point to the letter they are saying.

Sing, Dance and Cheer the Word Wall Words! - Word Wall Cheers...

Watch this class of Kindergarteners chant and clap a lively beat as they practice their word wall words. Notice that some children are on the rug. Some are standing waving pompoms. Look at the smiles on the children's faces. All of the children are involved in clapping and chanting.

The movement and lively motions can help the children focus on the words they are practicing from the word wall.

Word Wall Pole - Word Walls for Beginning Readers

Make Your Word Walls Hands-On

Make your Walls interactive by attaching key words with Velcro strips or sticky tack.

If this isn't possible, put pockets under your Wall at the children's eye level. Place copies of key words in the pockets.

These techniques allow students to go to the Wall, remove a word, use it at their desks, and return it.

Do you use word walls?

See results
Rainbow writing
Rainbow writing

Rainbow Writing

Photo Credit: Rainbow Writing

on Flickr, Creative Commons.

Rainbow writing: Write each word in a yellow crayon. Then go over the same word in orange, blue, green, etc. Be careful to have the students write the whole word before changing color (rather than each letter in all 5 colors). The students are actually learning to spell the word without even knowing it!

This is a great way to use up all those broken crayons.

Paste the Letters Puzzle

Day One: Write the letters to words on 1 inch squares. Cut the words apart and put them in an envelope.

Day Two: Rearrange the letter squares in the correct order and paste them down onto an index card. Put the word into a file box in ABC order.

These words can then be used for other activities either at school or at home.

The Basketball Cheer

Cheers to practice Word Wall Words

Pretend to bounce a basketball on each letter and then say the whole word as you "make a basket."

Word Wall Word Search

Encourage your students to look for word wall words in other work and/or independent reading. Give each of them a piece of highlighter tape before Silent Reading and share the words that they found at the end of the session.

Writing Word Wall Words on your Partner's Back
Writing Word Wall Words on your Partner's Back

Back Writing

Writing Word Wall Words on your Partner's Back

Pair students up and have one "write" the word on his or her partner's back. The partner guesses the word and they switch places.

This works well as a center activity after demonstrating several times as a class activity.

Word Wall Research - How Word Walls are used in Classrooms

Word Walls are effective tools when the children are involved in creating them

Photo Credit: Fly Swatters for Word Whackers

Available on Amazon

We like to use these pointers to eat up words. Only polite munchers who know how to eat quietly are allowed to use these pointers during class but loud noisy munchers can use them during recess.

These pointers also work well when when looking for the the greater number during math centers.

Word Wall Video - Word Walls designed by students.

Doing the Word Wall Chants

Practicing Word Wall words by chanting and writing them is necessary because struggling readers are not usually good visual learners and can't just look at, and remember words.

Now that you have a Word Wall, what do you do with it. Many of the chants will work for homeschoolers and ESL classes was well as traditional classrooms.

Interactive Bulletin Board

Tired Words!

Tired words want to go to sleep.

Let them rest! Don't make a peep!

Try to use a synonym instead.

Let those tired words stay in bed!

Fall Word Walls

Photo Credit: FALL-ing” in love with the season!

from Bulletin Board Ideas.

What are Word Walls?

Deb has a wonderful way of explaining how to teach difficult concepts with simple explanations and simple activities. Her blog is a must read for all teachers of beginning readers.

Take a Word to Your Desk

When a child is writing and needs to use a word wall word they can just take a small scrap of paper and write the word down and then take it back to their desk to continue writing.

Check out the following link for more ideas to use with flashcards.

Word Wall

Word Wall
Word Wall

Photo Credit: Colorful Bulletin Board by Kimberly Rodriguez

on Flickr, Creative Commons.

Come write about word walls and pointers on Wizzley, a fun and easy place to express your opinion:

How do you use Word Walls with your children?

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    Post Comment

    • castellucci lm profile image

      castellucci lm 

      6 years ago

      Very creative, brings back many good memories of elementary school. Sorry to hear that teachers are having to pay out of pocket to make such good stuff.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image


      7 years ago

      What a wonderful way to help children learn words ... thanks for another great lens!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      7 years ago

      This is a great way to introduce words to young children.

    • Wendy Leanne profile image

      Wendy Leanne 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Fantastic lens! *~blessed~*

    • GypsyOwl profile image

      Deb Bryan 

      7 years ago from Chico California

      Thank you so much for telling me about this lens. I'm going to use many of these ideas. You have sparked my imagination!

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      8 years ago

      Great idea and love the presentation here!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      What a fun way to learn vocabulary!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      8 years ago from Royalton

      @Superwife: Your children are going to love reading and writing the room as you create your word wall together.

    • Superwife profile image


      8 years ago

      I love this lens. I am so going to make a word wall in our playroom! well done 5* :)

    • Davidfstillwagon profile image


      9 years ago

      good lens! My son is in 2nd grade and they use something like this. 5*

    • Teddi14 LM profile image

      Teddi14 LM 

      9 years ago

      OMG, I found this lens from a tweet about your beginning readers lens. I am a special education language arts & reading teacher and I think this lens is EXCELLENT!!!! I will be back. I am faving it, rating it, & rolling it to my special education lens. I am just starting to use word walls and this lens has given me some great ideas for different ways to use them. I appreciate this so much. I will be back. Absolutely 5*'s for sure!!

    • groovyoldlady profile image


      10 years ago

      Evelyn...This is a Godsend! My youngest is dyslexic and learning to read has been a REAL challenge for us. I had started a flip book of common words for her to memorize and she loves the idea. However, boredom is starting to set in. I think we can use the wrod wall idea to really put some spark in her learning!


    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 

      10 years ago

      My son is dyslexic so much of his learning has really come down to rote-memorization of how words "look". 3M now makes Post-It notes with sight words on them and we had them ALL OVER his room. They worked. We even played "silly story" games where we'd take turns finding a word to add to the story. These were probably THE most effective technique that I found for helping him learn to read.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 

      10 years ago from Croatia

      Great ideas! 5* and favored!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi - I'm a teacher and I find this really useful - thanks!

      Hi - I have a new language group if you are interested in joining.



    • Eevee LM profile image

      Eevee LM 

      10 years ago

      I like using Cat O Nine Tails for pointers when I'm reading.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      10 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      Saw you on Twitter. Very nice lens.


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