word study

Scrabble Adds a Selfie

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in vocabulary, word study | 0 comments

“[Calvin and Hobbes are playing Scrabble.]
Calvin: Ha! I’ve got a great word and it’s on a “Double word score” box!
Hobbes: “ZQFMGB” isn’t a word! It doesn’t even have a vowel!
Calvin: It is so a word! It’s a worm found in New Guinea! Everyone knows that!
Hobbes: I’m looking it up.
Calvin: You do, and I’ll look up that 12-letter word you played with all the Xs and Js!
Hobbes: What’s your score for ZQFMGB?
Calvin: 957.”
― Bill Watterson, Scientific Progress Goes Boink

Scrabble added 5,000 new words to its official dictionary. My mom and two of my sisters are big Scrabble freaks, well, especially the sisters. They play online. They talk words and scores. They have all of the two letter words memorized. I do not play Scrabble to their level. I was surprised to learn that “za” is a word. It is just a shortened form of pizza. They use “xi” and “qat”. I need to know what my words mean. Also given the large hours they practice between our opportunities to play together, I am usually at a disadvantage. However, a win is really sweet!

The new words showcase how languages are living and growing entities. Words go out of usage (but I’m sure they stay in the Scrabble dictionary), new words come in. The word “selfie” is a great example. Although it is a very young words it is already being used by people of all ages. My 90 year old mother spoke of not taking a selfie after falling on her face a couple of weeks ago. My 8 month old great-nephew recognizes the word “selfie” and gets ready to pose. Some other new words include

BEATBOX, BROMANCE, CHILLAX, DA, FRENEMY, GI, HASHTAG, JOYPAD, MIXTAPE, MOJITO, PO, SUDOKU, TE,  TEXTER, VODCAST, and VLOG. I was clueless about the word “joypad”. I looked it up and was glad to have my inferences validated!

I think Scrabble can be a great game for both spelling and vocabulary practice. Third grade is a good age to get started, but children need to have guidance and support in the beginning. It needs to be a positive experience when they start playing. Of course, everyone can’t win, but everyone can find words.

Spelling Worksheet Scrabble


This spelling practice worksheet has a Scrabble-like activity, that can be kind of fun! You can find it here.

It’ll be interesting to hear what my sisters think of the new words. I know they will be excited to have more 2 letter words. I wonder how many of us are planning to buy my mom a new Scrabble Dictionary for Christmas!


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My Kids Can’t Spell!

Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Freebies, scavenger hunt, word study | 0 comments

My Kids Can’t Spell!

My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.

~A. A. Milne

My kids can’t spell! Maybe that is because I am not doing word study the right way. Diane Henry Leipzig says “Word study provides students with opportunities to investigate and understand the patterns in words. Knowledge of these patterns means that students needn’t learn to spell one word at a time.” I thought that spelling lists also did this. Each list has a pattern that is explicitly investigated. Kids need to investigate, I really like that word. And they need to talk about their findings. I pretty much gave this up when we were asked to “do” word study instead. I was under the mistaken impression the word study was playing with word wall words a few times a week.

As I read more about word study I am discovering that, yes, I have not been doing it the right way. I guess that can happen when you feel something extra was thrown at you without clear guidelines or expectations. On the otherhand, I am delighted to find that the “Spelling Units” I have been working so hard on this summer actually reflect good word study practices!

from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/80

Teaching strategies

In word study, teachers encourage students to compare and contrast features in words. One common method for doing so is by having students sort words. When sorting, students use their word knowledge to separate examples that go together from those that don’t.

The first activity I plan to have my students do with their words is a word sort. They are also asked to add other words that they know fit the pattern. Some examples are provided.

In addition to sorting, students may hunt for words in their reading and writing that fit the pattern being studied, may construct a word wall illustrating examples of the different patterns studied, may keep a word study notebook to record the known patterns and their new understandings about words, or may play games and activities to apply their word knowledge (Bear et al., 2000).

Each of my spelling units has a “My Word Collection” flapbook for collecting words from reading. A gameboard is also included with each unit.

A cycle of instruction for word study might include the following:

  • introduce the spelling pattern by choosing words for students to sort
  • encourage students to discover the pattern in their reading and writing
  • use reinforcement activities to help students relate this pattern to previously acquired word knowledge

A Rhyme Time Foldable is included with each unit. Kids have the chance to write some fun couplets with pairs of words with the warning to pay close attention, or get help with possible varient spellings.

Teachers then test students’ pattern knowledge rather than their ability to memorize single words. For example, a teacher might have students work with twenty words during a word study cycle and then randomly test students on ten of those words. For students studying the -at family, a teacher might include the word “vat” on the spelling test even though it wasn’t on the initial spelling list – this allows the teacher to see if students are able to transfer their knowledge of the “at” chunk to a new word they haven’t seen before.

My spelling test, which is a scavenger hunt, has additional words (which may have  been seen at some point throughout the week, but not practiced) for students to apply the pattern being studies.

I am excited and validated by my studies this morning. My frustration with my students poor spelling led me to believe I needed to go back to spelling units. I ‘ve created units (7 done so far) incorporating what I strongly believe to be good practices. Now I know from my reading that I will also be doing a much better job with “word study”.

Spelling Boardgame


Spelling Gameboard

Directions: Decide who will go first. Player 2 picks up a card and reads it to player 1. Player 1 spells the word. If it is spelled correctly, player 1 may go one space for each letter in the word. If spelled incorrectly, player 1 does not move. Player 1 then reads a word for player 2 to spell.

My units come with cards for the game, but any list of words could be written on index cards. In fact, students could make the word cards themselves.

I am hoping the hours I am putting into creating Spelling/Word Study Units this summer will ease my frustration about poor spelling in my classroom.

If you are interested you can find my Spelling Units here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on word study and any tips you have on making my kids better spellers!








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Saturday Extra: Word Study

Posted by on Nov 10, 2012 in conversation as learning tool, vocabulary, vocabulary development, word study | 0 comments

Intermediate Word Play Weekly Plan

If you are trying to get your kids to appreciate and engage in the process of discovering words, this is the activity for you! Not only do these lessons engage students actively in forming and exploring their word lists, but it also helps your reluctant readers gain confidence and learn to love words! After the first few lessons, students’ confidence skyrockets. Kids who hesitate to attempt difficult words gain the skills they need to start decoding more complex, multisyllabic words. You will see an increase in vocabulary skills, spelling skills, and fluency rates if you consistently implement these lessons with minimal preparation!

Heather Earley of www.wildaboutwords.blogspot.com begins her word play lessons with this amazing claim. But as I look over her materials, I find myself believing every word of it! Each 5 day lesson comes with detailed plans and easy preparation tips. I love that she allows for conversation and uncertainty on day 1. There will be words the students may not know. Students think together, manipulate letters, and make discoveries. Heather differentiates by working with a small group of students who need extra help. She includes other differentiation ideas and suggestions. The activities include a word ladder type practice, building words with manipulatives, independent practice, partner work, small group work, whole group work, fluency practice, “Find a Friend”, “Team Test”, a review, and I am sure there is more! She includes a word list for study and materials for every activity she describes.

The biggest selling point for me is the work with affixes. Students explore their meanings, the meanings of the new words they create, and how adding them affects spelling. During this discovery students also get to use conversation as a vocabulary building activity.

Heather has linked her work to common core expectations.

At this time Heather has 12 sets available on Teachers Pay Teachers. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Wild-About-Words/Category/Intermediate-Word-Studies

The focus words include:













“You will find everything you need to actively engage your kids in word play and exploration to develop vocabulary and word analysis skills as students seek to discover what the “big word” of the week is.”

Each item is available for only $2.00! If I taught 4th, 5th or 6th grade, I would already own them all! I am going to try some of the ideas with my 3rd graders.

Check out Rebecca Glasmann’s Fabulous Fall Giveaway!

Have a great week!


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Homophone Hink Hinks

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012 in Uncategorized, vocabulary, vocabulary development, word study | 0 comments

“He: ‘Whale you be my valentine?’ She: ‘Dolphinitely.'” ―Adam Young

Homophones need to be practiced! I don’t think they’ll ever be perfected. I find myself slipping from time to time (or is that thyme to thyme?). Students need to put effort into this maze of confusing words. Here is a spot where a little daily practice would be a very good thing. Just a quick pair of sentences with the missing words being a homophone pair would provide an opportunity to reinforce this skill.

There are many fun drill games available all over the internet, many center activities available, many worksheets. Help your students grow in this area. Help them make sense of what they read and help us make sense of what they write!

Here’s a fun activity. It is a twist on hink-pinks. Hink-pinks are two rhyming words that answer a riddle. For example: What do you call a beautiful Christmas tree? A fine pine.

My hink-hinks use a homophone pair to answer the question. Enjoy!

The PDF file contains the answer key: Homophone Hink Hinks

Here’s a Homophone header for your Word Study notebook:

Visit my TpT store for more great ideas.

See you tomorrow!


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Antonyms Want Equal Time!

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in antonyms, vocabulary, vocabulary development, word study | 0 comments

“The antonyms for dreams are actuality, certainty, existence, fact, reality, substance, and truth.”—James Dye

But, boy, the power of dreams should not be discounted!

Synonyms of many words can easily be listed and compared, their connotations noted and discussed, and a decision made as to which one would be best to use. The same is true of antonyms in writing. I think a great exercise would be to make lists of synonyms for two antonyms. Students could consider the lists and try to create pairs with the most similar meaning. Here is a list of possible pairs:

Again conversation and discussion is an important element in the effectiveness of this lesson. Students need the opportunity to express their thinking and feelings in words.

Here is an Antonym heading for a Word Study notebook:

I had an amazing day. I hope yours was great as well!


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