Word Wall Activities Help Children Learn Sight Words and Content Area Vocabulary

Word wall activities are essential in helping children learn sight words and content area vocabulary. Here are a few of our favorites!

Word Adoptions

One of our favorite word wall activities is adopting word wall words. Students seem to enjoy all word wall games, but especially this activity.

I have used it with struggling readers in second grade and their Dolch word walls, with sixth graders in literature circles, and with middle school math students, with consistent results. They absolutely LOVE doing it!

K - 3 Sight Word Adoptions

I tell children ahead of time for this word wall activity that they are going to be able to take a word off the wall to be their very own. They anticipate the event and consider carefully which word they want to "adopt."

Children love to have words from the word wall, and many who take them from school walls start their own walls at home. One student even put up a word wall in his new tree house!

To “adopt” a word, the child points to the word he/she wishes to have. In order to gain “custody” of the word, he/she must be able to read the word PLUS all the words appearing in the same column. If this can be done successfully, he/she may remove the word from the wall.

Providing students with blank cards for their walls at home encourages them to add their own words. This is a particularly good idea at the end of the school year as reviewing the words during the summer could help combat summer reading loss, a term which refers to the reading skills which are lost if children are not involved in any type of learning activities during the summer break.

4 - 8 Language Arts

In this version of the sight word activity, students must fill out a special form and "apply" to "adopt" the word or words of their choice. It they can make a case for siblings (twins and triplets are popular) they make gain custody of more than one word.

These words, too are removed from the wall and given to students along with an official adoption certificate Students often "play" with their "children." Some particularly creative sixth grade students opened day care centers in their lockers where students left their words while they were in class during the day!

Math Word Adoptions

In order to encourage children to "speak math," I hold Adoption Interviews during which students must tell which word or words they want to adopt and why. Since these words must remain on the wall, I write them on new cards to give to them along with official Certificates of Adoption. Students must know the meaning of their words in order to gain custody of them.

Word Adoptions Give Birth to Creativity

After word adoptions with one sixth grade literature circles class, students took their children with them to play focus games. During this time, a couple of words were left unattended on desks and were "taken" by Department of Family Services because they had been "abandoned."

Students in this same literature circles class opened daycare centers in their lockers for adopted word wall words. When asked if they would like to make posters to advertise their new businesses, they enthusiastically did so.

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Word Wall Families

The activity of categorizing resides in one of the highest tiers of Bloom’s taxonomy. When combined with designing and creating a home for a word wall family, this activity provides an opportunity for children to use word wall words to think critically and be creative at the same time.

Scavenger Hunts

This word wall activity requires students to find words in different categories. It is excellent preparation for the Word Wall Family activity in which students will create their own categories.

Word Wall Super Heroes

Kids of all ages love super heroes, and this activity also incorporates art and critical thinking skills. In addition, students explain the characters they have created - super hero, sidekick, and villain - in a narrative which supports reading and writing instruction.

Fantastic Feet

My hero's name is Feet. Feet has elastic legs that stretch two miles. When he touches an enemy with his feet, it freezes them. My sidekick's name is Vertices. Vertices' power is toe say, "Bow pow Wazamm!" and his nose grows 60 yards long and tickles his enemy.

The arch enemy's name is Arc, and his power is to fly 2,000 mph. The special vehicle is a very fast aircraft.