Heyyyyyyy!! SOOooo let’s talk Word Walls!!! There has been a lot of buzz around Sound Walls recently… while I’m not exactly sure I understand what that is (I think its just putting cards up that have the letter/sound and then a picture that has the sound to help cue) I have found (especially for Kinder but would work great for ESL, PreK, 1st or even 2nd if need) having a Growing Word Wall has been EXTREMELY helpful for my students!!
Sooooo… you might be thinking, well yea, duh, I do that.
I start my Word Wall off a little differently than most teachers: Empty!
Then.. day by day (as I introduce the letter & its sound), we add PICTURES to the Word Wall & its the students that add the pictures. We sort pictures during our Morning Meeting – words that start with the new sound or not. Then from there we pick which pictures we want to add to the wall. I add the tape & the kids walk them over and stick them on the wall! I try (the best I can even with my milk OCD) to leave the pictures where & how they place them on the wall. I want them to take ownership over this wall, understand that they are in charge of the wall and their learning, even from the first couple weeks of school!
Here’s our Word Wall on the 13th day of school. I’ve introduce: Aa, Dd, Mm and Tt.
I love how excited the kids get over adding pictures to our wall. And the excitement continues even after we start to learn words!
So I introduce sight words, almost right away. Getting students to understand that the letter/sounds we are learning make up the words we will read. So I introduce sight words little by little. I add the sight word to the side of our SmartBoard where we can easily see them, touch them, point to them, use them to help us spell the words within our Guided Writing… etc.
But then this crazy thing happens… we start to learn TOO many words… (oh darn…) and the side of the SmartBoard gets over run with words and we need somewhere else to put the words… I usually do a guided think aloud: “Oh no, it looks like we’ve run out of space for these words up at the front. I wonder if there is another place in our room that we can put our words, where we can still see them if we need them, but they are easy to find.” I take some suggestions, sometimes do a little bit of “Hmm… well, maybe. But if we are writing in our journals and I really want to spell the word: to, but I can’t remember how to spell it, we might want to put it in a super easy place to find it so that I don’t get confused, because I don’t want to spell just any word, I want to make sure I spell: t-t-to (if the kids haven’t gotten by then, the t-t- part will definitely help!! Lol).
When they take ownership over WHERE the words will be, they are FAR more likely to use the wall MORE, especially without prompting!! (Which really… isn’t that what all teachers want?!)
This is a portion of our Word Wall on the 100th day of school:
As we build words on the Word Wall we start to take pictures down to make space. So it begins to transition from a Picture Wall to a Word Wall.
Here is the whole wall (not the best picture.. sorry! But you get the idea!)
The AWESOME/AMAZING part of this wall is that it in helpful to ALL the students in my room. The pictures that remain are a great reference for those students who are still struggling with beginning sounds (even at the end of the year) and is still great for those students who are reading tons of sight words and above grade level!
Because this school year is going to look different since I am starting the school year off teaching from Home. My at home classroom still has the Word Wall on it. We will continue to choose pictures together to place up on the wall (taking ownership), I am going to give students a foldable poster with their own word wall on it, where they can cut out pictures from magazines, newspapers or online to add to their personalized word walls.
This is my word wall at my at-home “classroom”/office:
I’ll make sure to take a picture of the student boards when they are ready! I’m SO excited about them!! YAY!!!
If you have any questions or tips, please leave a comment below! Thank you!!