LET THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
A Year of Word Walls - cont'd
Prefixes offer a natural way to introduce the idea of opposites with words such as “like/unlike” and “please/displease.” This is also the perfect time to introduce the words “antonyms” and “synonyms.”
Opposite word walls can be acted out, and children will enjoydemonstrating such concepts as “up/down,” “in/out,” and “fast/slow.”
Since drama engages the right brain, this is a great activity.
A companion to the previously listed wall, a wall of synonyms presents the opportunity to introduce fresh words which can be used in place of “tired” ones. Here is a chance to really enrich vocabularies in a meaningful way.
Blends and Digraphs
Often students have an easier time focusing on parts of words on the wall because of lower stress. This leaves them more relaxed and free to enter into the learning and more able to recognize the details of words such as consonant blends and digraphs.
Grouping words with blends together on a wall often brings this word feature into focus and provides needed practice.
Here is another opportunity to help children feel connected to words on a word wall. Putting up their favorite words helps them feel ownership of them.
Children love to think of as many words as they can to place in word families, and they enjoy drawing or building “houses” for them out of recycled materials. Making the connection to science (recycled materials) and to their own lives (families) makes this activity a truly authentic learning experience.
Teaching to the life of the child – helping him/her relate it to something familiar – is the hallmark of good teaching.
Words from Partner Reading
When students have developed a sight vocabulary by learning the words in the Dolch lists along with words from other walls, it is time to begin building walls with those they encounter in text.
According to some researchers, reading aloud lights up the brain more than any other activity so partner reading is a good choice for building fluency and finding words for these walls.
Partner reading in this context requires that two students have copies of the same book, chosen by them. The notion of choice is an important one in order for students to feel ownership of the activity.
Students take turns reading a page aloud, helping each other figure out unfamiliar words. Those they are unable to decode are reported to the facilitator, be it teacher or parent, who writes the words on a list and later on index cards.
These cards are taken a few at a time, the number depending on the level of the children, and are used to play sight word games before they are placed on the word wall.
A set of thirty cards at a time works well for the games with second graders.
Children have a natural interest in the world around them and seem to arrive with the question “Why?” Capitalizing on their natural curiosity just makes sense and presents an excellent opportunity to expand not only their vocabularies but their minds as well.
A nature walk can generate an entire word wall, and children are particularly enthusiastic about robotics and electronics.
Curiosity is one of the things known to stimulate the growth of dendrites in the brain. Presenting unusual objects can help stimulate curiosity and add words to their vocabulary. A gourd, for instance, is an object second graders might not have encountered. Other objects might include old or antique items such as a slide rule or a butter churn.