Helpful Everyday Word Work Ideas for Primary Students

Hey there! Thanks so much for stopping by! I am a certified word nerd! I love words and working with words.

Word work is an important part of our students learning to read and write! Here are some helpful everyday word work ideas and spelling activities to help your students!

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Word Work Idea: Word Sorts

I love doing word sorts with my students! A word sort is a group of words that your students sort into groups using some sort of criteria.

There are so many ways that you can do word sorts. My favorite is to start with an open sort. Let your students decide how to sort their words. This helps them to really pay attention and study the words looking for ways to sort. If you find that a student has a particularly novel approach, have them share their sort with the class! Then, have your students sort their words by specific criteria:

  • long vowels/short vowels
  • word families -at, -an
  • beginning sounds
  • ending sounds
  • number of sounds in a word
  • number of syllables
  • number of letters
  • Specific phonics skills: r-controlled vowels, digraphs, CVC words, blends, long vowels, diphthongs, etc…
Helpful Everyday Word Work Ideas and Spelling Activities for Primary Students: Image of Word Sort

Here is a simple word sort routine:

Mon: Intro words let students complete and open sort. Students share how they sorted the words with their table or a partner.

Tues: Re-read all the words. Then introduce the closed sort. Students sort the words by specific criteria. Have them read their sort to a partner as a class and discuss how they sorted the words.

Wed.: Speed sort. Start a timer and have your student sort their words as quickly as they can. Have them note the time when they are finished. Then, have them try to get a little faster the next time. This can be a little chaotic, but the kiddos LOVE it!

Thurs: Write their sort. Have your students do their sorts, then copy it onto another piece of paper, or type it on their computers. This one I always send home to study for their spelling test.

Fri: Glue it! Students now glue their sorts into place. They have a partner check it, then turn it in. I would usually give them a spelling participation grade for their weekly sort.

Let me make this super simple for you! You can find all of my printable and digital word sorts HERE!

Or, you can make your own with this super helpful freebie! You can find it in my Free Resource Library. Just sign up for my weekly newsletter to get access plus tons of other freebies and great teachery stuff to help you Teach Happy!

Word Work: Sound Wall

Ah, the sound wall! We used our sound wall in our classroom daily! We would often start our reading time with a little phonemic awareness, then review the sounds on our sound wall. I often saw the students referencing the sound wall during our reading and writing times. I found that students having their own personal sound wall copies was useful as well.

One morning work activity that we did often was partnering up and reading through our personal sound walls. Another activity is a read-the-room type of activity where students could use pointers to read the sound wall.

Spelling Activities: Pattern Block Puzzles

Word Work + Math Activities=Double the learning! My students LOVE to use these super fun Sight Word Pattern Block puzzles! They build their sight word with pattern blocks!

Helpful Everyday Word Work Ideas and Spelling Activities for Primary Students: Image of sight word pattern block game

These are perfect for word work centers, math centers, morning tubs, etc. Great way to practice sight words with pattern blocks! Students roll the dice and build the words. You could also just have the students use pattern blocks to build the words if you are short on time!

Spelling Activities: Personal Spelling Dictionary

These printable personal spelling dictionaries are a must-have for any classroom! Having a personal spelling dictionary helps your students to become more independent writers! My students used their dictionaries all the time! Here is a post about ways to use a spelling dictionary in your classroom!

Just like the sound wall, sometimes morning work is to read a page or two out of their spelling dictionaries to a partner or small group. Have the students read the page that their first name begins with, or their last name, etc… The students will have different words sometimes depending on the words that they wanted to use during writing.

These spelling dictionaries are the perfect place for students to write their spelling words each week as well!

Another great idea is to have your students write any vocabulary words that you are working on in their dictionaries!

“All teachers want their students to become independent writers and expand their reading and writing vocabulary. This Student Dictionary is a must-have resource. There is lots of space for your students to collect interesting words when they are reading and writing. Using them has helped my poor spellers are improving because they have use this resource. The extra pages included that have the spelling of weekdays, holidays, number words, and color words has cut down them asking the teacher to spell those words.”

Mark C.

You can find these here:

Movement Activities Daily Word Work

My favorite way to have students do word work is through movement activities! We often practice our sight words (heart words) together as a class when we have a minute or two! I collect the cards and mix them up and flash them to the students while they do a movement! Movement ideas for reading whole sight words (heart words):

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Jump
  • Stomp
  • Clap
  • Toe Touches
  • Arm Circles
  • High Knees
  • Jog in Place
  • Give High Fives
  • Kicks (make sure they are spaced out if you use this one)
  • Raise the Roof (hands pump up into the air)

If you have a spelling list we often practice spelling the words with movement. My student’s favorite is using fingerspelling with the American Sign Language Alphabet. I have an alphabet posted in my classroom. It takes some time, but the students really have to think about the spelling words and the hand motions. It is multisensory! Other movement ideas for spelling words one letter at a time:

  • Snap and Clap (snap the vowels, clap the consonants
  • Stomp
  • Toe Touches
  • Head, Waist, Knees (touch the top of your head for tall letters, hands on your waist for middle letters, touch your knees for letters with a tail).
  • Apple picking: Pretend to pick an apple and put it in a basket for each letter.
  • Baseball: Pretend to pitch each letter, then swing a bat and watch the ball fly for the whole word.
  • Weights: Pretend to pick up a barbell and lift it slowly with each letter. Raise it overhead for the whole word.
  • Chop the tree: Pretend to chop a tree for each letter. Say the whole word (like you would timber when cutting down a tree) and watch the tree fall.

Do you have any other fun movement activities that you do with your students? I would love to hear about them!

Helpful Everyday Word Work Ideas and Spelling Activities for Primary Students: Image of Word Sort

Thank you so much for stopping by! Happy Teaching,


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