3 Low Prep Ways To Implement Making Words In K-2

If we want kids to read and spell fluently, then we need to give our K-2
students adequate time for word building during phonics instruction.  The
large body of research for the Science of Reading tells us that kids need
repetition with word building for a focus sound so that they can map the
spelling and sounds in their brain. 

One of my favorite first grade phonics activities to do is making words. 
(And it is a must-do activity for kindergarten and second grade too!)

Making words
is a word chaining activity which targets a specific phonics skill or
sound.  During a making words lesson, kids are building and manipulating
words by changing one sound at a time.  For CVC words, they might start
by spelling bat and then change one sound to make the word

This makes word building accessible to all learners because you are just
changing one sound at time.  It’s less overwhelming and it allows us to
really focus in on that target sound or sounds.

I LOVE using
making words
in my classroom.  The routines stay the same and the sounds change to
make the activity feel like more of a game.  Let’s chat about 3 low prep
ways to implement making words in your kindergarten, first grade, or second
grade classroom.

Print Mats & Magnetic Letters

My first year teaching was in 2006, which doesn’t seem like long ago at all,
but it does when I remember that an overhead projector was the highest form of
technology in my classroom. 🙂

Anyone besides me remember these pretty things???

“It’s a beaut, Clark!” 🙂

Anyways… when I first started teaching, we used magnetic letters or letter
cards for word building.

The GREAT thing about magnetic letters with our
printable word building mats
is that it is very tactile.  It gives kids something to hold, manipulate,
and move.  And that is SUPER important.

The downside to letter cards or magnetic letters is time!  I ended up
doing word building like this in small groups only because the time it took
to pass out letters was about as long as the lesson itself!  

In small groups, I had baggies with the correct letter cards for each lesson
with the coordinating mat and that definitely minimized the passout time,
but it also took up some extra space!

Print Mats & Dry Erase Markers

The second way I’ve done making words is with dry erase markers.  This
was the main way I did making words when I first started teaching because it
took very little pass out time.  There are no letters to pass
out.  Kids just have to grab their dry erase markers and a mat and they
were good to go!

printable mats
already have the corresponding letters for the lesson on them with the
correct number of Elknonin sound boxes so it’s ready to go.

But while these
printable making words mats
are nice and cute, they aren’t necessary!  I’ve used dry erase boards
only in a pinch and had kids make lines for the number of sounds in each

Digital Mats & Google Classroom

Eventually, the overhead projectors went into the storage closets and the
Smartboards were installed.  And then came Google Classroom.

And suddenly, making words was an EASY way to do word work with absolutely
zero prep!

Now, kids can open the
digital making words mat
that corresponds with our lesson and focus sound on an iPad or on a laptop
in Google Classroom and they can immediately build words.

Or, we can pull up the digital making words mat on our smart board and do
the word building lesson together as a whole group by clicking and dragging
letters into the Elknonin sound boxes.

I LOVE this way because it takes so little prep and cleanup time!

Whether you want to save prep and cleanup time and go digital with making
words, or you want to pull out the tactile magnetic letters and go old
school, word building is a must-do in your primary classroom to help kids
map words permanently in their brains!

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