An essential part of literacy instruction in kindergarten is word work. Word work allows students to practice applying the phonemic awareness, phonics, and sight word skills they’ve been learning during their lessons. In order to keep students on task and motivated to learn, check out these 8 word work activities for making word work fun.
Why is Word Work Important?
In kindergarten, students are exposed to a variety of different reading skills, such as phoneme (sound) isolation, sight words, CVC words, rhyming words, word families, blends and digraphs, CVCe words, and the list goes on. By working with words in a meaningful way each day, students gain a deeper understanding of the sound and spelling patterns in words, grow their sight word knowledge, and expand their vocabulary.
1. Scootin’ for Words
This word work activity is a great way to get students out of their seats and actively learning. To prep, grab a stack of notecards and write 1 word on each notecard. You can write sight words, CVC words, or CVCe words. Place a notecard on each student’s desk. Students will need a whiteboard and a dry-erase marker.
Students will stand behind the desk, read the word on the notecard, and write it on their whiteboard. When the teacher says “Scoot,” all students will scoot to the desk next to them, moving clockwise. They’ll repeat the process by reading and writing the next word.
After each “Scoot,” randomly call on a student to read you their word. This is a great way to spot check students and keep them on their toes. To differentiate this activity, you can scramble the letters on the notecards and have students read the word, unscramble it, and write it correctly on their whiteboard.
2. CVC Mazes
CVC mazes are a fun word work activity for practicing CVC words. To play, write CVC words on notecards or use CVC picture cards if you have them. Place the cards in a deck face down. On a whiteboard, draw 26 circles and write the letters of the alphabet inside.
Students will draw a card, read the word, and use a manipulative such as wiggly eyes, mini erasers, or plastic cubes to cover the letters that make up the word. If the word has the same letter as the beginning and ending sound, such as the word “bib,” students will stack their manipulatives on that letter to show that it is used twice in that word. Lastly, they’ll use magnetic letters to build the word.
Kaboom is a high-energy word work game that you can use to practice any type of word. To make your own DIY Kaboom game, write words on 25 popsicle sticks. You can use sight words, CVC words, words with beginning blends or digraphs, etc. Place the sticks word side down in a jar or plastic cup. Write the word “KABOOM” on 5 popsicle sticks and add those to the jar.
Students will draw a stick and read the word. If they read the word correctly, they get to keep the stick. If they read it incorrectly, it goes back in the jar. When a student pulls a KABOOM stick, they must put all of their popsicle sticks back into the jar and place the KABOOM stick in a discard pile.
Play continues as students take turns drawing sticks and reading the words. When the 5th and final KABOOM stick is pulled, students count up the number of sticks they have and the player with the most is the winner!
You can make this game work for word family words by using less popsicle sticks and KABOOM sticks and making smaller sets for each word family. You may use 10 word sticks and 2 KABOOM sticks per set.
4. Word Searches
One of the most popular word work activities is word searches! Students love putting on their detective hat and searching for hidden words. You can hide any type of word in a word search to help students practice different literacy skills such as CVC words, CVCe words, short vowel words, long vowel words, or even sight words or word family words.
To make your own word search, draw a 5 x 5 table on the whiteboard. Choose 3-5 words to hide in the word search, writing those in the spaces first. Then, fill in the extra spaces with random letters. You may want to do this while your students are at specials, recess, or before school so they don’t see where you hide the words. 🙂
To play, have students take turns coming up to the whiteboard and using a dry-erase marker to shade in the letters for the words they find. If you have magnets, they can use these to mark the letters as well.
Make this easier by writing the words they’re looking for off to the side. Students can mark them off as they find them. To make this more challenging, have the students find the words independently and then write them off to the side.
5. Tic-Tac-Toe Words
To play Tic-Tac-Toe Words, draw a simple Tic-Tac-Toe board on the whiteboard. Write a word in each space. Again, you can practice any type of spelling or sound pattern with this game. Split your students into two teams.
Students will take turns representing their team and choosing a word. If they get the word correct, they get to mark and X or O on that space. If they don’t say the word correctly, their team’s turn is over and the next team chooses a word. Play continues until one team gets three in a row. Continue playing a few rounds in order to let each student get a chance to represent their team.
This would also be a great partner game during small groups. You can draw several game boards on the whiteboard and have students spread out and play in pairs.
6. Word Work Boom Cards
Boom Cards are the perfect choice to add a digital spin to your word work activities. These virtual flashcard games allow students to practice a variety of skills, such as CVC word families, CVCe words, L blends, digraphs, and more.
There are many benefits to using Boom Cards for word work. Not only are they interactive and fun, but they include audio directions, making it clear for students to know exactly what they are supposed to do. There are also audio picture names, so students are never guessing what the picture is.
Plus, to save you grading time, Boom Cards are self-checking and give students immediate feedback on their responses. Boom Cards are an effective way to encourage independence in your classroom and allows you to spend focused time with other students during small groups, literacy centers, or morning work time.
7. Make Muffin Words
Just the sight of this word work activity will have your students excited and ready to play. To prep this activity, write words on cupcake liners and place a liner in each spot in a muffin tin. Students will toss a small ball or dot cube into the muffin tin. They’ll read the word they landed on, and if correct, they get to keep the word. If they don’t read it correctly, the word stays in the muffin tin.
After all of the words have been removed, the player with the most words at the end of the game is the winner. You can practice sight words, word family words, words with blends or digraphs, etc.
To practice phoneme substitution with CVC words, you could have the students change a sound to make a new word. You can also write a word family on the cupcake liners and have students say any word in that word family. The options are endless!
8. Paint Strip Puzzles
This word work activity requires nothing more than paint strips that you can snag (usually for free) from your local hardware store. Write words on the paint strip, placing one letter in each space. In one space, write the entire word. Most paint strips have 6 spaces, so this is a great way to work on larger words, such as CVCe words, words with blends or digraphs, or sight words.
You can trim the paint strips as needed if you don’t use every space. Next, cut the paint strip so the letters and word are separated. Mix them up and have students build the word, putting the pieces back together like a puzzle. For easy storage, write the word of focus on the outside of a snack-size baggie and store the pieces inside.
I hope you’re excited to implement these fun and simple-to-prep word work activities into your classroom. With repetition and practice, your students will be growing their skills and becoming young readers in no time!