Having a word wall in the classroom for your kindergarten students is a great way to make literacy more accessible for your students. But first, what is a word wall? A word wall is a visual display in the classroom that shows a collection of words that students can easily reference. Word walls are great for kindergarten classrooms because they can make it easy for students still mastering their basic words to independently find and reference words they are learning familiarity with.

This can also become a great way to take some of the daily work off of you as the teacher. Rather than having to clarify the spelling of dozens of words throughout the day for your budding writers, you can redirect their attention to the word wall. When a student asks you how to spell a word, don’t provide the spelling for them. Rather, ask them to look on the wall and see if they can figure it out. Over time, students will start to check the word wall first before asking for assistance. You’ll spend less time being pestered with questions, and the students will learn independence.

You can make your word wall a fun, engaging, and educational part of your classroom easily by trying out these ideas for word wall tips and tricks.

Finding the Words

Part of making the best use out of your classroom’s word wall is choosing the right words! Because your students are going to be using the word wall to reference, make sure to pick ones that are going to be of great use for them. Think about which words students are likely to use with a lot of frequency, like ones that appear a lot in print or that they regularly have to write when completing assignments.

Also consider which words are going to be the most challenging for them to remember, like words that break typical conventions of phonics. Include common homophones with visualization to indicate which spelling goes with which meaning. Including too, two, and to or you’re and your can be hugely helpful for early writers. Adding the names of your students and your name as the teacher can also be helpful for their writing. Since names are generally more complicated in their spelling, they are more difficult to remember for young children.

Good word wall words might also include words that are most relevant to your current topics of study or previously studied sight words. If your class is learning about butterflies or asteroids, for example, those are great additions to a word wall!

Setting It Up Right

To make sure that your students are getting the most out of the word wall, it’s important to first set it up correctly. Firstly, put your word wall somewhere big and visible in the classroom. It’s important that students can be able to easily see the word wall while they’re reading or writing so they can reference the material without worry.

Organizing the word wall words alphabetically makes them easy to find when referencing a particular word. However, some words might make more sense to organize another way. If you’re learning about prefixes, arranging them by prefix might work well. Arranging them by subject or meaning may make the most sense, depending on which words you are using.  Also make sure that the words are written in such a way that they’re big and easy to read, even from across the room.

Make sure to include a visual representation of the word’s meaning for vocabulary words or homophones. This can be a simple drawing, a photograph, some clip art, or a student-make illustration.

Introducing The Wall

Whether you are creating the word wall for your new school year or are introducing it mid-year, it’s important to explain its use to your class. Start by going over any words that you already have placed. At the beginning, that may be as simple as the names of your students or one or two sight words. Practice with the class how to find and reference the words to read or spell.

Try to incorporate the word wall into your classroom’s daily activities for a little while to remind the class of its presence. It will acclimate them to using it as a reference tool and model for them how to use it appropriately.

Having students be involved in its creation can be a great way to help. You can have students create illustrations for vocabulary words, or help you stick up new words onto the wall. You could have them suggest new additions, or assign “Word Wall Helper” as one of your classroom jobs. Any way you like to involve them will help them learn to treat the word wall as an interactive tool in the classroom.

Adding New Words

As you begin to add words for word wall display, make sure to take it slowly. When starting a new project it can be easy to enthusiastically add many new words to the wall all at once. However, remember that it’s important that the students are aware of which words are being introduced. Ideally, students should have a chance to learn about and recognize the word before it goes on the wall. That is the point at which it’s appropriate for it to be a passive reference tool in the classroom.

Before adding a new word, show them how to spell it. If you are adding a new set of homophones, talk through the various meanings and how to tell the spellings apart. Practice using them in different contexts. Show the students the visual displays you plan to hang with the words, or have them draw their own.

Try to limit yourself to adding between three and five words per week, giving yourself plenty of time to review each before adding it to the wall.

Using the Word Wall

Once the word wall is an established part of your classroom, you can start incorporating it into your daily learning activities. A critical part of having this display is that you treat is as an interactive word wall, rather than a passive display. An easy way to include a word wall in your daily activities is to use it for activities you are already doing.

Word sorts are a great simple activity for kindergarten students, and an easy activity to interact with your word wall. Provide students with a page that shows various categories and blanks under each. Depending on your current area of study, the categories may vary. You may want to have the words sorted by part of speech, or by their phonetic makeup. Whatever the categories are, ask students to write in each of the word wall words into the appropriate category.

Word wall games are a great way to have some fun with the display. Using a simple game like charades is a fantastic, quick game to play with the class. Have students take turns coming to the front of the class and have them pick a word off the wall. Their job is to then use only gestures to get their classmates to guess the answer. The rest of the class will have to use the wall as reference for the possible answers to the clues, and think carefully about the meaning of each.

Bingo is another great way to get kids to practice with the word wall. Pass out blank bingo cards and have kids fill in the spaces with words chosen from the wall. Then you as the teacher can pull words off the wall at random and announce them to the classroom. Students can mark off the words as they are pulled down, and the first to get a bingo wins. You can provide an extra incentive for students who spell all of their words correctly.

Word walls are a great way to add more literacy learning into your classroom’s daily routine. With the appropriate planning and implementation, they can be a beautiful decoration and a critical educational tool for your students. By the end of the year, you’ll have a beautiful display that advertises how far your class has some with learning new vocabulary and spelling.

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