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Tools for Schools--Reading: Use Word Walls to Help Your Child Create Mind Movies

Updated on July 27, 2019
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This bench is easy to construct and is portable. It is an excellent spot to enjoy some cool breezes and hear the sounds of nature.

What is a mind movie?

It is the intricate process of turning words into images enabling the learner to begin to understand the letter/sound relationship.....hence, the reader can 'see' the story unfold as this relationship makes sense and unfolds for her or him.

Technology does not replace word walls and other sensory experiences

Education along with our world has moved further and further into the world of technology. And it is a reality. Many children in school today will have lives that are greatly affected by technology. However, when children are emerging learners they need opportunities to engage with words in a way that a computer cannot offer---for many the kinisthetic experience creates a lasting effect on their progress.

Word walls work for homeschoolers too

Both of my grandchildren have been home schooled. When I was home schooling my eldest grandson, a word wall was a must. Words were hung at his level and were reviewed and used each day.

Let them become a part of your is a great way for the road to developing a meaningful vocabulary to begin.

Variations on word walls

To further the experience with word walls you can:

  • write words on sandpaper so children can trace over the letters to feel each letter
  • have children write each letter in a different color so it awakens and stimulates the brain
  • have children draw the letters in sand
  • have children write letters in shaving cream on their desk----messy but kids lve it
  • think of your own creative ways to bring word walls alive

Children can record words they learn each day on their personal word wall.


Reading begins from the time children first have a story read to them. From the first time Momma or Daddy, Grandma or Grandpa picks up the baby and tells a story or reads a story to a child, the beginning of creating a world of images and sounds painted with the voice of the loved one takes place.. Creating these mind movies within those sweet brains is the beginning of making reading a part of their lives.

For some, reading begins before birth as Momma reads to her child nestled up in her womb. Immerse your children in spoken language and written language every day.

Making words accessible and giving kids words to own makes them stick with your child. That is why you will want to use a word wall in your home, in your classroom, and you will want your child to have a portable word wall.

These activities work well both in the home and the classroom. Helping your child to create mind movies can be accomplished in many ways. One way is through using word walls where children can see the word and begin to form stories using those words.

Word Walls Help with Writing Assignments

Words on the word wall are there to help children when they are completing a daily writing assignment.

Seeing the word, recognizing it, and being able to spell it in their writing builds confidence.

Of course during testing (How could we forget that; there is TOO much of that but that is fodder for another article) the words are covered. Children are advised of that all along so it is not a surprise on the day (s) of testing.

Magnet words are great too for kids to use during stations or for teacher instruction..

What good is a word wall?

Word walls are used across our nation. Sight words are often displayed in the early elementary classrooms or home school rooms. I used one when I home schooled my eldest grandson. Those words of course stay on the wall until they are so well-known that they are retired and new ones take their place.

Math, science, social studies, any subject has words worthy of being placed on the walls of the learning space. These collections of words are a helpful tool throughout elementary, middle and why not...high school. It is important to teach children how to use a personal word wall.

They provide young children help when they are composing sentences or stories. I encouraged them to look at the wall and find words to include in their writing.

The -ack Family Booklet


Portable word walls

An effective complement to these 'permanent' word walls are portable word walls that children can use in whatever subject you desire.

The first step is to copy the pages with the letters of the alphabet on them; vertically or horizontally works equally well. Staple them in a folder of your choice. Allow children to decorate the front and write My Word Wall and their names.

Use: You can decide how to use them. You can write specific words up each day and have them copied under the correct letter of the alphabet. You can encourage children to write down a word in their reading that they want to learn.

Storage: Use of a tub to hold folders works well. Make it the child's responsibility to pick it up as they come in and drop off their bags in the morning. A little reminding may be necessary at first but they get the hang of it quickly. Later in the day, one person from each table (or group of desks) can collect them and return to the tub.

Concerns: The pages (notice the picture) are not lined. There is not a lot of room under each letter for words.

These folders were used in my classroom for many years and the 'concerns' proved to be minor. Unlined paper was fine. When the page was full, we just stapled a new one on top of the old. After a few months the folders became somewhat worn so I sent them home.

Each child was given a new one. It was a fresh start, a new beginning. And, by this time, they had the routine down and were excited to use them.

The -ice Family Booklet

Word Family File-Folder Word Walls
Word Family File-Folder Word Walls
This is a book I used often. It is filled with eye-catching booklet covers for use as 'tiny word walls' for word families.

Word Family Word Walls

Word family word walls are easy to copy and assemble. (I used patterns from: Word Family File-Folder Word Scholastic.)

As a teacher, I learned to 'make it my own' when I found a resource like this one. Their suggestions are great and it is a terrific little book but I decided to do it 'my way.'

  • Copies of the page from the book including the word list and the 'story starter' were made.
  • The children colored them.
  • Paper was cut to fit the shape of the booklet .
  • The cover was stapled over the paper.
  • Story starters and the word lists were laminated and left in stations for the children to use.

Sample word list for -ing family

Source family booklet family booklet | Source

Another option

  • mount or copy the cover onto cardstock.
  • Laminate it and you can place it in a station as well. The children will not have one to take home but hey will also have the ones you provide for use in class.
  • One of the best features of these booklets is the fact that you have options for their use.. There is not really a right or wrong way to implement their ideas.

A Task Card


-ing Family Booklet

  • copy the -ing page with the fabulous ring on it.
  • Cut out paper the same size as the ring; I just held the cover over the paper I was going to use and cut away.
  • Give one to each child or place in your station area. Explain the story starter and the list of words.
  • You may wish to have them copy all -ing words in the booklet the first day.
  • When they use the story starter, you might encourage them to use as many words from the 'word wall' list as they can in their story..
  • Encourage them to think of other -ing words not listed.

Your options are many. There are so many ways that you can provide opportunities for practice learning word families.

In the photographs are other word families booklet covers. Also shown is a story starter and a sample word list.

Note: You can write the word lists on chart paper and post in location where all can see it or you can laminate small versions to place in your learning station area.

The children enjoyed using these and were anxious to take them home.

© 2012 Patricia Scott


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