Tips For Word Wall Activities

2 ELL students using word wall words



What Are Word Wall Activities?


This  is a wall dedicated to displaying high frequency words such as sight words or words that are used a lot in your class. They are words that are important for your students to know and use. In early elementary classrooms, these are words that children are learning to read and write. In upper grade classrooms, these can be words related to concepts and topics that students are learning about. You could have a word wall about math that incorporates math definitions and symbols. Or, a science wall.  You’ll know you have a successful word wall when students use it daily to find just the right word when they’re reading or writing.



I love doing word wall activities with my first graders! I found that they enjoy answering my questions about a vocabulary word that we are studying. I also like using word wall activities to teach phonics. I told my students they are “word detectives” and they are finding the word I am describing by listening to my clues. They love this because it is like a game to them. The child that guesses correctly gets to stand up and give clues to a new word for their classmates to find.

Problem with My Sight Word Wall Activities

Many of you know my story and the struggles that I had when my classroom culture changed and I had over 50% ELL population.  I had a regular word wall with sight words on it. I asked my usual questions. For instance, I said, “Find the word that has “at” in it.” I discovered many of my students needed more picture support therefore, we created resources that have the real photographs that they need to match vocabulary words to the picture.
You can read more about that here.

Word Wall Activities with Real Photographs

I start my week with putting up thematic word wall cards that help my students make real world connections. The cards have real photographs as well as vocabulary words on them that we are working on . Then the children look at just a few cards at a time and focus better on trying to look for clues. For instance, this is a picture of two little girls finding the little words at and it in our word wall card that has attitude on it. Then they decide to create other words that have the word family at in them. As you can see, they enjoy being the teachers.

ELL students doing word wall activities

Playing Word Detectives with Word Wall Cards

I also spend a few minutes playing ‘Word Detectives.” with our word wall cards. For instance, I begin the game by saying,”Find the word that has a blend.” The answer I am looking for is “Student has a st blend.” Now remember I introduced this word wall card “student” with the picture of a student on it and discussed the parts of the word as well. They also have been introduced to words like blend, vowels, word family, etc. You can get our book that introduces these words for free here. I have found it helps my students to get a better understanding of these words by using them every day. “I use to ask which word has a st?” Now that I teach my students to actually say the word and the feature I asked for such as “blend” I discovered they truly understand the term “blend.”

Writing with Word Wall Cards

I display all the word wall cards for the week and my students journal about each word every day during literacy stations, so it is an easy station to do because I don’t have to do anything to prep for it. I also encourage the children to use as many of the week’s words as they can during the week. I found that my students wrote better journal entries since they have real photos to relate to.

Here are a few samples of the writing:

student writing

student writing

This student wanted to use all the words for the week we were studying Washington so, we wrote the word wall words at the top of his page. I was very proud of how he used the words. I  love these thematic words because they help keep the students on topic.

Class Books Using Word Wall Cards

I will revisit the month’s word wall cards by having my students choose one of the themes and write about it. For instance, One of our winter themes was penguins so this students chose that theme for our class book and another winter theme was winter weather, so a student wrote about that and we put all these stories in a class book that I let my students illustrate. They love going back and reading these class books all through the year.

student writing about penguins

You can see more examples and a cover a student illustrated here. 

You can try our new October Word Wall Cards with real photos here.

We would love for you to share your successes with word wall activities!

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2 thoughts on “Tips For Word Wall Activities”

  1. Wendy

    Such engaging word wall activities – well thought out for your students’ needs. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

    1. SOL Train Learning

      Thanks Wendy!My students love the real photos.

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