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Working with Words

It's been a while since I've talked about Word Work in my classroom.  I've written a bit about what I do in this post here. In that post, I talk about three stations with math integrations. I took these photos the other day, which inspired me to post about some other Word Work options. 

In these photos, the students are working with ten letters.  These letters are selected from a lesson from "Making Words for 4th Grade" by Cunningham and Hall.  I do a mix of Words their Way (in differentiated groups) and whole class lessons with Making Words.  The challenge here is to find as many words as you can using the ten letters given.  And, if you use them all, you'll find one big word! 

Image result for making words for fourth grade

You might wonder why we are playing with magnet letters in grade 4.  First of all, it's fun.  We all know that doing something fun increases engagement and therefore increases learning.  There is also great power in "discovering" the words as you physically move the letters around.  Students are able to see patterns in words that they create.  They typically start with 2 or 3 letter words they already know how to spell, and take risks to build new words from there.  Having a limited number of letters to choose from helps them to work with explicit clusters of letters and build onto smaller word chunks.  Even if students spell a few words incorrectly, it's okay. 

Here is a quick listing of Word Work stations I use in Grade 4 and a brief description of each:

Magnet Letters
 ...either as described above for Making Words or to build words from a list of Words their Way words

Letter tiles
...to build words by hand
Scrabble Spelling 
...build words with Scrabble tiles, write them and add up the value


Roll and Write Rainbow Spelling
...roll a die and write the word in a colour; 1 = red, 2 = orange etc

What's your Word Worth?
...write the word and add up the value using money (real or plastic)

Type your Words
...in a word processor in the computer lab

My Word Sort App
...enter your word list ahead of time for the kids to sort on an iPad


Sentence Writing 
...use your words in sentences to prove you know what they mean

Alphabetical Order 
...fairly straightforward - write your words in alphabetical order

Word Search
...make a word search on graph paper, then have a friend solve it

Dictionary Search
...look your words up in the dictionary, write down the page you found it on

 Place Value Spelling
...write the word and add up the value using base ten blocks

Word Chain
...this doesn't work with all sets of words... you write a word, your friend has to use the last letter of the word to write the next word; repeat, test, torch, house...

Many of these are very easy to implement in your classroom.  Most don't need anything more than you already have laying around (dice, paper, base ten blocks, etc.)  I hope this listing helps you add to your word work rotation. 

If you do something different from me - I'd love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment!

Snowmen at Night

My dear friend and teaching buddy Lauren (Mrs. Gadicke) had an awesome suggestion for buddies last week!  She has a book called "Snowmen at Night" by Carolyn Buehner which she was using to inspire some writing for her 1/2s.  This story has gorgeous illustrations, and it's a pop-up book! Very cool.

So, on Friday afternoon our little buddies came down and read us their writing.  They had to write about three things they think snowmen did at night.  Together, those chose one of the 3 activities that they'd like to illustrate. 

Mr. Bourcet, our principal, came down and helped guide the students through some art techniques.  He does drawing as a prep class with my students, so he was able to keep the lingo consistent.  He talked about making the snowballs spheres, shading, and making sure the elements touched each other (no floating hats!). 

We then set them loose with chalk pastels and either purple or blue construction paper.  No pre-drawing with pencil allowed.  The big and little buddy each did their own drawing, but were side by side so they could consult/assist one another.  Myself, Mrs. Gadicke and Mr. Bourcet were able to travel about and give some one-on-one tips.