Additional Tips and Suggestions for Your Word Study Activities

If you've caught my past few blog posts, you know that I am focusing on Word Study for a little mini blog series. I've written about my 7 Day Words Their Way Word Study Routine and shared my Two Biggest Tips for Making Your Word Study Routine Work (even if you are not using Words Their Way). But today I want to focus specifically on more word study activities.

Today I'm sharing additional tips and recommendations that I've found helpful:

Note: Links to the Words Their Way books are affiliate links. This means that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Read my full disclosure here.

Getting Started

  • After you pre-assess your students, it's important to know that I (and most other Words their Way teachers) recommend that you only try to juggle 4-5 different word study groups in your classroom, otherwise, you may just go nuts! This also keeps your group sizes small--I find that my lowest groups need to be fairly small (3-4 students) in order for them to get the attention they need. My higher groups are manageable with around 6 students.

While I highly recommended a staggered word study activities routine in my last post, at the beginning of the year it is important to introduce, model, and complete each activity as a whole-group so that students are able to independently complete the daily activities once regular word study begins.

I just choose a word list for the whole class and model the routines in one or two cycles of word study until students understand the expectations. (You could choose a lesson from your lowest word study group that you know you are going to skip OR focus on a big spelling rule that you noticed many of your students missed on their word study pre-assessment like "drop the y, add -ies".)

Share Students with a Colleague

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  • Do you have a colleague that can do word study activities at the same time as your class? One year I was able to partner with a colleague for word study block and it was AWESOME! This may be a way for your and other teachers on your grade level to serve more student groups.

I LOVED sharing a few students with him and vice-versa because

  1. We were able to give the lowest group (made up of a few students from both of our classrooms) TWO meet with the teacher days-one with me, and one with him.

  2. Having a shared word study activities schedule made us both ACCOUNTABLE to word study because we had each other to consult with.

How do you make sharing students for word study work? We created one master schedule with all of our students on it. We ended up with 6 student groups in all. Then, we decided which groups would meet with which teacher. You could change this each quarter so that you get to work with your students. I chose to give him my "knuckle-head" group so that maybe they would listen more and get more out of word study.

Our daily word study schedules were exactly the same since we made it with our students combined, so each day at lunch we confirmed which day we were on. If one of us needed to cancel word study, we had choices: do another writer's notebook day, give more time for word searching, or continue a Greek/Latin word-parts or vocabulary study lesson.

Getting Organized

How do I get organized for word study activities? Well, I use the Words Their Way Word Sort Books and my Words Their Way Word Searches that were created for and aligned to the levels in each of the word sort books.

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After I have pre-assessed students, created my groups, and decided which sorts each group will begin with, I spend an afternoon at the copier making copies of the Word Searches and Word Sort Sheets. I get at least 5 sorts ahead for each group (which means I'm copied/planned for 10 weeks since my routine is a 7 day cycle)


As I'm printing the copies, I paper clip the sets together and organize them into folders that match the color of each leveled word sort book. I've seen some teachers copy each word sort onto colored paper to match each level- --I think this is a fabulous idea for keeping the different word sort sheets organized!


Before we start our first 7 day cycle, I spend a word study block helping students organize their word study notebooks. Students glue their word searches on the left side of the page so that they can record the words they find to the right of the word search.  I have them skip 2-3 pages between each word search for word work activities and for "Meet with the Teacher." If you are using the word searches, remind students to keep the word searches in order as they glue them in!

derivational relations spellers word study notebook.png

My Derivational Relations Group (the blue group/highest group) also have Word Study notebook activities that are part of their routine. So, they must place the activity sheets for each word sort after their word search and "found words" list.

You may find that it's easier to pull students into small groups to help them glue their pages into their notebooks, or some years, I've just printed all of the Word Study Notebook sheets off into a separate booklet for them. (I do have to admit that this was MUCH less stressful than the years I had them glue the pages into a notebook).

Additional Tweaks You Can Make to Your Routines

  • On writer's notebook day, you could have students keep up with the misspelled words they find in their writer's notebook on a list that is kept in their Word Study or Writer's Notebook. This is especially beneficial if you have time to analyze common patterns students are missing or want data on how the transfer of "word study" to actual spelling is going.

free misspelled words chart for writers notebook word study.png

I personally find that my students make a lot of progress out of having to focus on going back through their entries in their writer's notebook to find misspelled words without me requiring them to create this list, but recording misspelled words on a chart like this is an option to keep in mind and perhaps a modification for your lower spelling group.

personal words word study charts for writers notebook free.png

You can grab the "Misspelled Words Chart" and a Personal Words Chart from my google docs for free.

If you use my Words Their Way Word Searches

  • Be sure to teach students that they will almost never have a three-letter word in their word list (except for the Red Group). Students really have fun finding words, but I have found that stopping them from highlighting three-letter words keeps their word searches clean and they are better able to see the empty spots where another word may be hiding.

Y'all you might have realized it already, but I could just keep on talking about word study activities! I'm going to take a break from this 3-part series, but I'm sure I'll be back in the future with more tips and tricks for your word study routine. 

I don't believe I've confessed this up until this point, but I used to HATE word study (and planning for it) with a passion!!!! 

I spent countless hours combing through spelling books and trying to find the right systems that would work for ALL of my students' needs (my high-flying spellers and my kiddos with spelling disabilities and low word-attack skills). I would beat myself up again and again because I didn't really have any direction for how best to instruct my students in spelling and learning word patterns.

It wasn't until the Word Sorts books came along that I truly FELL IN LOVE with WORD STUDY because instantly, I had the resources and word lists I needed.

The books come in 5 Different levels and each one is broken down into units. I could start my word study groups at the beginning, middle, or end of one of the sort books depending on where they fell in the pre-assessment. 

If you have not purchased the Words Their Way Word Sorts books, I highly recommend checking them out. You can check out the 3rd Edition Word Sort books, released in 2018 here:

Letter and Picture Sorts for Emergent Spellers

Word Sorts for Letter-Name Alphabetic Spellers

Word Sorts for Within Word Pattern Spellers

Word Sorts for Syllables and Affixes Spellers

Word Sorts for Derivational Relations Spellers

Until next time, have a blessed and glorious teaching time! 

SHOP THE RESOURCES: (Please check the release date of your Word Sort books before making any purchases)



Don't miss other posts in this word study series: 

⇒ A 7 Day Overview of My Words their Way Word Study Routine

⇒ My Two Best Tips for Making Any Word Study Routine Work

⇒ Differentiating Your Word Study Routine

Tips for Success with Word Study Word Searches

Have any questions you want me to answer about word study activities? Drop them in the comments! 

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