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My November Top Ten List: Word Study in Action

By Beth Newingham on October 28, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5

I’ve had many teachers ask about the word study program in my classroom, but have been hesitant to share until now because it is still a work in progress. My teaching partner and I evaluated many different spelling programs and resources looking for the "perfect" model, but nothing provided us with a totally comprehensive word study curriculum. And so we decided to create our own word study program that would incorporate word recognition, vocabulary, and phonics, as well as spelling.

READ ON to find out how students are introduced to new spelling patterns each week, take part in literacy activities in which they gain more exposure to the patterns, and practice making and sorting words. You will find word study games and activities to download, resources and templates for creating your own word lists, and a video that provides a detailed look at our word study program in action. (Hint, the video appears as a tiny player so just click on the "expand screen" icon at the bottom of the screen, second from last icon.)

Parents were very used to the weekly spelling tests that our school favored, but research shows students often memorize words for a test and then promptly forget them. Assigned spelling lists often require students to study isolated words rather than the phonics, the sounds that letters make within the words.Therefore, we tried to create a program that does not completely abandon weekly lists, but emphasizes opportunities for students to investigate and understand the patterns in words and build word knowledge that can be applied to both reading and spelling. In this post, I share the two-year process we went through to create our program and give you an overview of what word study looks like in our classroom. (While I teach 3rd grade, this post is not specific to a particular grade level.)


 Word Study in Action

 The video above will give you an overview of what word study looks like in our classroom, but the top ten list that follows offers a more detailed look at each component of the program and includes sample word lists, game templates, and center activities.


1.  Using Inventories to Determine Students’ Stage of Spelling Development

We find it important to assess our students before jumping into our word study at the beginning of the school year. In our classroom, we give two different types of spelling inventories to gain information about each student’s developmental spelling stage and also to determine where we will start with whole-class instruction.

Words Their Way Elementary Inventory: We administer the Words Their Way Spelling Inventory during the first week of school. I like this inventory because it provides the teacher with specific information about each student’s knowledge and application of specific orthographic features. For example, in the inventory below, I can tell the student has mastered short vowels and consonant blends, but needs more work on "within word patterns," etc. This student falls in the "within word pattern" developmental stage of spelling. We use the information from this assessment to plan strategy groups and also to determine where to begin with our whole class instruction/yearlong spelling program. (If we find that most students have already mastered initial consonant blends, we will skip that unit and address it in strategy groups with the few students who need more practice.)


High Frequency Word Inventories: While the Words Their Way assessment is great for obtaining knowledge about students’ ability to apply common spelling patterns, it does not provide information about their ability to spell words outside of common spelling patterns and words that they will likely use in their everyday writing. During the first two weeks of school, we divide students into two to three groups according to their estimated spelling stage (based on the Words Their Way Inventory and on recommendations from their teachers from the previous year) and administer high frequency word inventories using the list 1200 high utility words. (The words are listed in the order of their frequency of use in everyday writing.) Some of our 3rd graders are given the first 100, and others start at 200 or even 300.  

When we correct their tests, we highlight only the words that they were able to spell correctly on a recording sheet in their word study folder. Students will use this list throughout the school year to create weekly individualized high frequency word lists containing the words they spelled incorrectly on the assessment. We try to give students at least 200 words during the first two weeks of school (broken up into short testing sessions) so that they have enough misspelled words for their weekly lists. (Many students will need additional testing later in the year when they run out of misspelled high frequency words.)

Inventory Highlighting
Download high frequency word lists in sets of 100:

1–100   101–200   201–300   301–400   401–500   501–600   601–700


2. Creating a Yearlong Plan

F and P Word Study Lessons We used a variety of resources to determine the spelling patterns that a typical student should master in 3rd grade.  Fountas and Pinnell provide a plan in their book Word Study Lessons: Grade 3 that contains a word study continuum with a suggested order for teaching common spelling patterns. My teaching partner and I looked at this and then determined a specific plan for our 3rd grade class. Download 3rd Grade Word Study Overview

After a few weeks of administering inventories and learning about your students’ spelling stages, you may find that your students still need more practice with spelling patterns. Typically, some of our students are still in the late letter-name alphabetic stage, and others are already in the syllables and affixes stage. The majority, however, seem to start the year somewhere in the within word pattern stage. (Read more about the stages of spelling development.) Since it seemed overwhelming to start students at different units within our yearlong plan, we chose to differentiate our program by having a regular list and a challenge list for each unit. That way we can challenge the students who need more difficult words, but still focus on a common spelling pattern for our whole-class instruction.


3. Making Word Lists

There are many different opinions when it comes to weekly spelling tests. We know that students do not master spelling patterns or become good spellers by memorizing words each week, but many parents like having weekly lists to study at home because they want to feel that they play a role in helping their children become better spellers. We tried to strike a balance when creating our program. We do give students a weekly list of ten words that follow the pattern we are studying. They can use the list to compare and contrast spelling patterns, and we can use it in vocabulary activities. However, our word study activities in class do not require students to simply focus on these assigned words, but contain a wide variety of words that follow the pattern we are studying for the week. Also, the final test includes ten additional words that students are not assigned. This helps us assess how well students can apply the spelling pattern to new words. 

Once we determined our yearlong plan, my teaching partner and I began creating word lists for each week. This was a time-consuming task because we needed to come up with 40 words for each week. 

Below is a description of how we create a word list for a single unit.

Week 4- long aTen Pretest Words: We first choose ten words that follow the pattern we will be introducing for the week. Students who are able to spell at least nine out of ten words correctly on the practice test receive the assigned challenge words for the week and the others receive the regular list.

Twenty Assigned Pattern Words: All students are given ten words to study for the week that follows the weekly patterns. However, we create both a challenge list and a regular list. The regular list contains ten words that follow the patterns in a basic way. The challenge list contains words that follow the patterns, but are more complex. For example, when studying long a words, the regular list might have the word brake, and the challenge list might have the word hesitate. Both words have the "magic e" pattern, but they fall into different stages of spelling development.

Ten New Pattern Words: We also choose ten pattern words that the students are not given ahead of time to study. These words are unknown to the students until the day of the test, but they have been exposed to them during the lesson and during word study center activities. This part of the test shows whether or not students are truly able to apply the weekly spelling pattern to new words that they were not just able to memorize. We tend to choose words similar in difficulty to the regular pattern word list.

Additional Words for Center Activities: We use all of the words from the 40 described above when creating games and other word study center activities, but we also include many other words that follow the weekly pattern that may not be on the list. The goal is not for students to just learn how to spell specific words, but to expose them to as many words as possible that follow the patterns. In doing so, students can compare and contrast the words and begin to internalize the way certain letters work together to make specific sounds in words that share a common pattern.

Where Do We Get the Words?  We use a variety of resources to help us create our word lists including Words Their Way, the Words Their Way: Word Sorts series (with different books for each stage of spelling), Fountas & Pinnell's Word Study Lessons, and the First School Years Web site, which provides words lists for a variety of common patterns.

PhonicsWordLessonCoversPhonicsWordLessonCovers Words Their Way   Within Word Sort   Letter Name Sort   Syllables and Affixes word sorts   First School Years Website

As this is a work in progress, I am just sharing the process we used to create the lists, not the actual lists themselves. Also,  I believe that creating your own lists is the best way to most thoroughly “own” your word study program and create activities that are specific to the patterns you are teaching.


4. Word Study Folder

It is important for students to have a place to organize all of their word study materials. We use a duo-tang folder to hold the following resources:

Word Study Notebook:  Students keep a small notebook in the front pocket of their folder. They use this notebook to write the five high frequency words they will be studying each week.

High Frequency Word Lists: In the middle of the folder, students have their highlighted high frequency word lists.  When their corrected tests are returned to them, they highlight the high frequency words that they spelled correctly.  When they make their new list for the week, they choose the next five words that are not highlighted. (Remember, words that are not highlighted are words that they spelled incorrectly on the high frequency word inventory at the beginning of the year.)



Words to Learn List:  Students rewrite any pattern word that is spelled incorrectly on their test on this page.  This ensures that misspelled words are not ignored.  Every so often, students will have a week in which their entire spelling list is made up of these misspelled pattern words from their “Words to Learn” list.


Word Study Center Recording Sheets: Students keep all of their word study center recording sheets in the back pocket of their folder.  Every couple of weeks, students staple these sheets together and turn them in to be corrected.



5. Week at a Glance

Once your yearlong plan is in place, your weekly lists are created, and you have completed your individual inventories, it’s time to implement your word study program.  We usually do not begin our first unit until the third week of school.  Each week follows the same routine as described below.

Monday: Every Monday a new spelling pattern is introduced during a 30 minute lesson. Before the pattern is introduced, students take a pretest to assess their ability to apply the pattern to ten teacher-selected words. All students are then given ten pattern words to study at home. Students who score a 90% or better on the pretest are given more challenging words (that follow the same pattern) for their study list. On Monday they get a word study homework packet that explains the new spelling pattern to parents and describes the related word work activities. Students have all week to work on the packet at home and are asked to return it to school on the following Friday, the day of the weekly test.


Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: In school, students rotate though a variety of word study centers, spending 25–30 minutes in each one. The centers help them practice both the pattern-based spelling words and their assigned high frequency words.

Tic Tac Toe Picture sort

Friday: This is the day of the weekly spelling test and when the weekly word study homework packet is to be returned.  The tests are corrected and returned to students so that they can record any misspelled words on their "Words to Learn" list and highlight any high frequency words that they spelled correctly. (Read more about this in #8: "The Weekly Test.")

Final Test


6. Introducing New Patterns

P1130283 A 30 minute lesson introduces students to a new pattern at the beginning of every week. This lesson is similar in format to a Reading Workshop mini-lesson. I first introduce the pattern and give examples of words that follow the pattern. Students then take part in a guided exploration that is similar to the "active engagement" component of a Reading Workshop mini-lesson. P1130281During this time, words are often sorted by pattern, and the different patterns are compared and contrasted. I often use my SMART Board to teach the lesson since it allows me to easily manipulate words while studying word parts and using word parts to make new words. All students bring a dry-erase lapboard and marker to the carpet so that they can be directly involved in making words and sorting words by pattern during the lesson. Download a sample long e lesson I created on the SMART Board this year.


7. Word Study Centers

Three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday), students go to word study centers in groups of four to six.  Our word study center rotation chart shows students which center they will visit each day, and features a picture of the location in the classroom where the activity or game will be played. The corresponding materials for the games are kept in a large pocket chart next to the rotation chart. The labels on the pocket chart match the labels for the games/activities on the rotation chart so that students can easily find the materials they need each day.

P1130408 P1130322


Candyland amanda We have personally created almost all of the games and activities that are directly related to the patterns for each week. Each game or activity also has a recording sheet so that students are writing words that follow the different patterns as often as possible. It takes some time, but creating your own activities allows you to have them match the exact patterns you are teaching and to differentiate them to accommodate students who may need to be challenged. We have also purchased games, templates, and word sorts from professional books. Following are some resources, including sample game boards, that can be used and altered to match the patterns you're practicing with your students. 

Long Vowel Word Race: We use this game for all of the long vowel units.  We just change the words on the game board each week to correspond to the different vowel patterns for long a, e, i, o and u. This game is great because it is a creative way to sort words that share a common long vowel pattern. It gives students exposure to many words and helps them begin to recognize general "rules" for applying certain patterns to words. (For example, students learn that ay tends to be used most often when the long a sound is at the end of a word.)

Racetrack gameboard Word Race

     Download Long a Race Track Game Board     Download Long a Race Track Word Cards     Download Recording Sheet and Directions  

Long Vowel Dominoes: This game helps students compare and contrast the different patterns that can be used to make the long vowel sounds.  The recording sheet requires students to record the word matches they make so that they are matching up words that share a common pattern.  To create, I simply purchased dominoes and attached address labels to them. (You may need to trim the labels to fit the dominoes.)

Long vowel domino chain Domino group

Download long vowel domino labels, game directions, and recording sheets (WinZip file).


Treasure blank "Trash or Treasure?" (Long Vowel Word Sort): This activity can be used to sort words for a variety of patterns, but we choose to use it for our long vowel units. It is basically a picture sort. Inside a mini treasure chest is a collection of pictures that all have common long vowel sounds. In the photo of the activity shown here, all of the pictures are long a words that fall into one of the long a patterns: a_e, ai, ay, eigh.  The words are actually written on the back of the pictures, but students are asked to look at the word AFTER they make a spelling prediction for the object shown on the picture. The word is then added to the correct column on the recording sheet. The game is called "Trash or Treasure?" because students will also find five words that are not long a words that must be recorded in the "trash" column.

Download long a "Trash or Treasure" recording sheet and long a word sort pictures.

Prefix Gameboard Spin-a-Word (Prefix Word Building Game)This game is created by attaching both of the game board files (see links below) to create a 2x2 game board. In this game, students build new words using prefixes and root words. The recording sheet also emphasizes vocabulary development as students must use the words they make in a sentence to show that they understand how a prefix changes the meaning of a word. You will need to create a prefix spinner with the prefixes mis-, pre-, re-, un-, dis-, and de- to play the game. This game can be altered and used for suffixes as well. (You would just need to change the root words and create a suffix spinner.)  

Download spin-a-word game board top &  spin-a-word game board bottom (The Print Shop files).  Download Prefix Spin a Word Recording Sheet (MS Word).


SB WOrd WOrk SMART Board Games: There are already tons of online games and activities for so many common spelling patterns, especially on the SMART Exchange. However, you can also create your own!  I learned that any board game I have created using The Print Shop can be exported as a JPEG and then inserted into a SMART Board notebook. Below you can see how I took my spin-a-word prefix game and turned it into a SMART Board interactive game board. I just had to add an interactive spinner. I also converted a Candy Land center game (used for practicing initial consonant blends) to a SMART Board game.

SMART Board Game
 Download spin-a-word SMART Notebook file and Candy Land SMART Notebook file.

Resources for Word Study Center Games, Activities, & Word Sorts:

Words Their Way: This book includes game board templates and tons of word sort activities. It also comes with a CD that allows you to easily print word cards and to alter games to make them fit the skills you are teaching.

Words Their Way: Sort Books: This series features words sorts for every developmental stage of spelling. The sorts can be easily copied onto card stock, cut into separate word tiles, and laminated, so they can be reused.

Scholastic Teacher Store: Here you will find many teacher resource books that contain "ready to use" word study center activities and games.

ReallyGoodStuff: If you have money to spend and no time to make your own games, this Web site has some great phonics games!

Lakeshore LearningThis Web site has a variety of interactive games and materials that can be used for your word study centers.

Online Games: Megan Power, my fellow Top Teaching blogger, put together this list of awesome online activities that students can play on individual computers or on an interactive whiteboard during word study center time.

8. The Weekly Test

Monday, October 18, 2010 (6) Administering the Test: On Friday, students take the final test to assess their knowledge and application of the patterns they studied during the week.  Since they have different words, students either write a #1 on the top of their test, if they are receiving the regular words, or a #2 on their test for the challenge words.  The test is given in the following order:

Assigned Pattern Words: The teacher first gives the assigned pattern words, going back and forth between the regular list and the challenge list (e.g., "Group #1, your first word is snow. Group #2, your first word is burrow").

• New Pattern Words: Next, all students are given ten words that follow the weekly pattern that they were not able to study.  These ten words help us determine how effectively each student is able to apply the spelling pattern to new words.

Test• High Frequency Words: For the last section of the test, students give their word study notebook to their assigned spelling buddy. Their notebook should have a sticky note marking the page where the student wrote his or her five high frequency words for the week.  The buddy reads the words to his or her partner, and the students must use the words in a sentence. This ensures that they are not only able to spell the word, but they also know the meaning of the word and can use it in context. (This is important because there are so many homophones in the high frequency word lists.) Download final test template.


Post-Test Spelling Work: The corrected tests are on the students' desks when they arrive at school on Monday morning, and they complete the following tasks for their morning work:

• High Frequency Word Highlighting: Any of the high frequency words that are spelled correctly on their test are highlighted in the students’ word study folder.  If they misspell a high frequency word, they do not get to highlight the word (and it will be on their high frequency word list the following week).

  HF test

• Make New High Frequency Word List for Following Week: Students then take the next “unhighlighted” high frequency words from their individualized HF word list and create a new list of five words in their Word Study Notebook inside their folder.

HF to Notebook

• Record Misspelled Pattern Words: Students add any pattern words that they missed on the test to their “Words to Learn” list in their word study folder.  During short weeks, we have students create spelling lists made up entirely of words they have missed earlier in the year that are on this list. This ensures that misspelled words are not ignored.

Test Words to Learn

9. Word Study Homework

I am not a teacher who uses many worksheets or assigns busy work in my classroom. That is why the phrase "word study packet" initially made me cringe. However, I do feel that what we do in class needs to be reinforced at home. Parents often find spelling to be one thing with which they can confidently provide assistance, so this homework packet is a direct link between our teaching and parent involvement at home. The packet goes home on Monday and is returned to class on Friday, the day of the weekly test. Our word study packet contains three parts:

Cover Letter:  The cover letter explains the new patterns to the parents and often gives them specific examples of words that follow (and do not follow) the patterns. The cover letter also lists the ten assigned words they will study at home (regular or challenge list). Students also copy down the five high frequency words that they are studying for the week from their word study notebook so that they can also study them at home.

Unit 4 Parent Letter HF Notebook to Cover Letter
 Download sample parent letter

Pattern Work: The first section of the homework packet is not specific to the assigned words that the student is studying for the week. Instead, this section often features an exploratory word-building activity or a word sort using words that follow the patterns we are studying in class for the week. Download the long a homework sample you see below.

Long a Homework Long a Homework 1

Tic-Tac-Toe: This section allows students to practice their assigned pattern words and their individualized high frequency words. We create many activities that encourage students to focus on the meaning of words so that we also promote vocabulary development.  When creating our word study tic-tac-toe activity sheets, students are asked to do any three activities in a row. We try to have rows that include a wide variety of activities that require students to use multiple intelligences and to also use their assigned words in the context of writing.


Download sample tic-tac-toe homework.

10. Strategy Groups & Differentiation

While having a regular list and challenge list allow us to differentiate one small component of our word study program, it is important to make sure that we meet the needs of students on a daily basis.  When creating word study center activities, we often make two versions so that students who are assigned the challenge list for the week are challenged when playing the games and doing the word sort activities.

Strategy Lesson Strategy Groups: These small groups are also a way for us to meet the needs of those students who are falling through the cracks. No matter how thorough my lessons and how purposeful and engaging the games and activities, there will always be some students who need direct instruction and additional guided practice with the teacher. We work with these students both individually and in small groups during center time to ensure that they are able to apply what they are learning to their everyday spelling. Of course this word work is often directly related to reading, so Reading Workshop is another time when we may teach strategy group lessons that are related to the word study concepts we are studying in class.

Record Keeping: We also keep careful track of students’ scores on the “new pattern words” section of the test each week.  As you can see in the chart below, we highlight students who spell fewer than 70% of the pattern words correctly. This allows us to quickly create strategy groups of students who struggle with common patterns and prevents us from allowing students to just "move on" when they are obviously not secure with patterns taught in a specific unit. This sheet is great to use for writing detailed report card comments and for sharing with parents at parent-teacher conferences.

Word Study Record Sheet Strategy Lesson Planning Sheet

These sample sheets do not contain information about our actual students.

I know we haven't created a "perfect" word study program, but it is one that my teaching partner and I have found to be effective with our students over the past two years. With that said, we are constantly looking for ways to improve upon and add to our word study program. I welcome all feedback and questions you may have!

Comments (339)

Elizabeth (comment #131),

I think I fixed the link to the center labels. It is working now from my computer. Try it again and let me know!


Joyce (comment #130) and Sarah (comment #134),

You both asked where I purchased the large pocket chart where I store my word study center materials. I bought it online from http://callowayhouse.com/home.asp many years ago. Unfortunately, it is not available any longer on their website. I wish I was able to help you out!


Jan (comment 129),

You asked if I had any ideas for how to create a word sort for your interactive white board. I am only familiar with SMART Boards, so it's hard to describe how to create a word sort on a different type of interactive board. The SMART Notebook software has templates for word sorts and image sorts, so they are not something I really have to create on my own. I just add the words or pictures, and they are ready to use. Can you use SMART Notebook software on your board?


Hi Beth, I am preparing word study center this year.Your blogs are invaluable and have helped many teacher. I have 1/2 with the year 2 students being gifted and talented and the Year 1 students being independent workers. I bought Winzip and Printshop so I coud print out your literacy centre games..however am experiencing difficulties in opening the .sig files. Do you have any ideas on how to help me? I am in Australia and am having a hard time getting tech support. Thanks

Hi Beth,

I'm such a huge admirer of your work! Just real quickly, where did you get your pocket chart? I checked at Lakeshore online, but they don't have any with the really large pockets like you have shown here. It's such a fantastic way to organize centers for word study and math. Thanks for all your amazing work and being so open to share!

Hi Beth:

Do you do a new unit weekly or is this monthly? At our school we are trying out words their way as well. We are about to give our mid-year spelling inventory to create new spelling groups. Typically, I give a new spelling list to each group weekly. How do you come up with your activities? Do you have any book recommendations to other teachers who would like to try your same approach of interactive games? I guess it seems, as to all teachers, where to find the time to do the activities in our tight schedule. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Sorry, I had a question for you that didn't get posted. What do you do about LD/inclusion students? Do you give them the same list? Thanks for your time, Lesley

Hi Beth! I visit your site often and find great ideas. Your spelling/word study plan is just what I am looking for. I am frustrated with kids just memorizing to do well on a test but see no carry-over in writing. Your ideas seem very managable. My goal is to start working on my lists and try out a few ideas towards the end of this school year, so I will know what works for next year. I am excited to start. Thank you for all of your wonderful, practical ideas and your willingness to share with others. Lesley


The link you posted to a template for your center labels does not seem to be working (not the link on this site, but the "download" page that it takes you to). Am I missing something?

Thank you for all that you share!

I was wondering where you bought that fantastic storage pocket chart that you use for your word study materials...I am looking for something like that to store mine as well!

Beth, you are truly an inspiration to me. I am a veteran teacher of 34 years and I am absolutely thrilled to learn new things and strategies. I cannot convey on a message board how much I learn from your site.

I have an interactive board. It is not a Smart Board. :( I have no support regarding its functions or its capabilities. It seems limited compared to a Smart Board.

Do you have instructions on how to create a word sort for an interactive board? I would like to follow your example by using the board to introduce a sort and have the students use their individual white boards to sort along with me or another student.

Thank you for all your efforts and sharing.

Lili (comment #123),

Aww, thanks! I feel happy to know that I have been a source inspiration for you. I appreciate your comments and will keep trying to provide you with new and exciting ideas!


Karen (comment #122),

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments! My goal when writing my posts is to make my topics useful and informative and to make my ideas easy for teachers to understand and implement in their classrooms. Your comments make me feel like I have been successful in doing so!


Cathy (comment #121),

You asked if I have directions posted anywhere for literacy center games that I have listed on my unit plan. With at least 4 different centers/activities every week, it would be overwhelming to post directions for every game. However, I can explain directions for specific games. You mentioned football and checkers. Those are games that are played in different ways in different units. Let me know which units are referring to, and I can give you a more detailed answer:)


Maria (comment #120),

I'm so glad you are excited about the information in this post. Good luck implementing a similar word study program in your own classroom!


Denae (comment #119),

I can totally understand your desire to get started as soon as possible with an improved word study program. However, I would suggest not starting it until you really have the time to create your units and effectively plan your creation and management of word lists, spelling buddies, center games, etc. I like starting the program at the beginning of the school year so that students and parents are on board from the beginning and are not confused about how it works. (Especially for parents and students who are only familiar with a traditional spelling program with weekly lists of isolated words that can be memorized.) I know that when I rush something without putting enough time and thought into it, I am never satisfied with what I am doing.

With that being said, you may want to use the second half of this school year to try out some things you plan on doing next year so that you can determine how to best manage them in your classroom.


AZING. Thanks for sharing all your hard work. I wish you always the best!!!!!!

Hi Beth, I'm from Aus, I have just finished reading your pages and all your blogs. You are a truly amazing teacher and so inspirational!!! Your pages are so prescriptive and contain so much information. I too am a Yr3 teacher working with a partner and we can not wait to implement your ideas into our classroom and share your site with our collegues. Thank you so much

I'm working on the games for the center activities and getting them prepared for use. Is there anywhere to find directions for the other games, like checkers and football? Thanks for all the wonderful help!

I would like to thank you for the great information you have posted. I am so excited to get started!!!!

As a first year teacher I find myself "winging it" this year. However, I just found Beth's information and would love to start ASAP with some of her ideas...do you think this Word Study could be implemented coming back from winter break? I defintely want to do it beginning of next year...but I want to start NOW!!! :) Any advice?

Tonya (comment #115),

You asked about resources for creating word study center games and activities. You will see a variety of websites listed in my post that you can use to get ideas for (or purchase) center games and activities. However, I find that I make most of my own games. Many of my ideas for literacy centers come from common board games and card games. Candy land, checkers, Uno, Go Fish, Tic-Tac-Toe, and other popular games are good places to start when trying to create your own. I just use tables in Microsoft Word to create cards for the games, and I use clipart from MS Word or Print Shop to create the board games.

Thanks for posting your comments on the blog!


Beth (comment #114),

You asked about the title cards on the front of my word study center pocket chart/rotation chart. Since we have 6 center activities every week, I have close to 40 Print Shop files saved on my computer that include multiple signs on each page. Since the file size is pretty large for each one, they are too big to post all of them here. Even zipping them into a file makes them still too large to email or post on my website without having to upload each one individually. However, here is a link to where you can download a sample template that you can use to make your own signs. On this Print Shop file, you will find 2 small strip signs like the ones on the word study center rotation chart and two matching signs that fit my large pocket chart that holds materials for each center activity. I hope these are helpful!



Stephanie (comment #111),

I'm sorry I am just getting back to you! The past week has been a crazy one! I am looking forward to the holidays and the relaxation that can take place when I am finally done shopping for last minute gifts!

You asked about games for your ou and ow unit. Katie (comment #112) had a great idea for using the actual Candy Land game board. You can also download my version of Candy Land in the post and make the spaces contain word families that include ou and ow. Your word cards could be blends can be added to the word families.

In my post, you can also see that I have included links to download other board games that could be altered to match a variety of word study concepts. Using the idea from the Long Vowel Dominoes (described in the post), I do "Dipthong Dominoes" as a game in classroom. You can also take my "Trash or Treasure" activity (described in the post) and find clipart pictures that represent words with the ow and ou sounds.

I hope this helps!


WOW, that's about all I can say "WOW"! Please help! I see so many wonderful center games on your year long plan. Center ideas is where I am struggling. What books did you use for the templates of your games? I have Words Their Way which has a few of the games. I also have purchased some, but I still need a lot more. Please help. THANKS

Thank you for sharing all your wonferful resources. I just downloaded a lot of your games and activities for word work. I was just wondering if you could possibly share the title cards you made for the front of the pocket chart where you store the games. For example, like the one you made for vegetable stew and soaring synonyms (p.s. I do have printshop). Thanks in advance


Thank you for the great, easy idea! I would love any other ideas like that out there.


One easy game I came up with that I can easily adjust for all of my units is to use CandyLand. You can buy the board, and then just write the words on index cards in different colors. They choose a card, read the word, and if they read it correctly, they get to move to the next spot of that color on the board. I've even taken the "special space" cards and glued them onto index cards as well because the students love that aspect of the game! Hope this helps!

Your website has so many wonderful tools. Thank you so much for sharing. I started a similar word study in my second grade classroom this year and am struggling to come up with enough games for our ou, ow unit. Do you have any suggestions or other websites I can check. Words Their Way didn't have much to offer. Thanks!

Beth, I felt guilty for asking as we are all so busy trying to keep up with all our day to day teaching task. I am so grateful that you took the time to help me out. Those are the list that I had started the year out with. Thanks again, this will help and than I can relook at how I want to deliver my spelling this summer. What would we do without summers! I do like how you have organized your new word study. THANKS

b. dale (comment #108),

For some reason, those lists are not saved on my computer at school, but since I did upload them to my website years ago, I am posting the link to that page (from 2006). I hope these are the lists you are referring to.

2006 Spelling Lists: http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/indexspellinglists.htm


Beth, any luck finding your old word lists. I liked how you had them organized with a weekly activity and the practice tests. They compliment nicely with words your way as well. They can easily be used for sorts, too. Thanks so much for checking. B dale

Thank you so much for your response. With the help of a couple of other people, I have been giving a spelling assessment each day this week using the appropriate high frequency word list you provided to each of my different groups. The only problem is that I have a couple of students who have spelled almost every word correct and I am on the 600 page. I know in the post, you mentioned that the words came from a list that has 1,200 words on it. Do you have access to post all of the lists up to 1,200? My two students may not go that high, but I would like to have it, in case they do or in case I ever have a student that does. Thanks!

Katie (comment #102),

Thanks so much for sharing your idea about doing the pre-test and practice tests in a composition notebook. This is an awesome idea! Not only does it save paper, but it is a great "portfolio" of a students' performance/progress. You have every test in one place to use when planning strategy groups, writing report cards, or showing to parents at conferences. I may have to do this next year!


Nicole (comment #101),

You asked about a page on my website where I list different ways to practice assigned spelling words. Here is a link to that page: http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/spelling%20activity%20list.htm

Hopefully this is what you were referring to! Thanks for your nice comments too!


Kathy (comment #100),

You should get some sort of prize for being the 100th comment!!

You asked if I would share my spelling tests. The spelling test template is available to download in the post, but I am guessing you are referring to my weekly word lists. At this point, I am choosing not to post my weekly lists. As this is still a work in progress, I am just sharing the process we used to create the lists, not the actual lists themselves. I really do believe that creating your own lists is the best way to most thoroughly “own” your word study program and create activities that are specific to the patterns you are teaching.

Thanks for posting your comments!


Rachel (comment #99),

I'm glad you liked this post! You asked some questions regarding the administering of the high frequency word section of the weekly test. I've answered your questions below.

1. You asked, "Do you group your partners by ability and/or are they the same partners as your reading/writing partners?"

I group them with a partner who is spelling similar words. I figured if their spelling stage is similar (meaning they would likely have words at a similar degree of difficulty), they will be more likely to be able to read each other's words. Most of the students already know their HF words on the day of the test before their buddy even gives them the words because they have been studying at home!

2. (I think I answered your 2nd question in my response to your first question.)

3. You asked, "I know a lot of the high-frequency words are homophones; how do you find the time to make sure that each student understands the meaning of their homophone words when they all have an individual list?"

We ask the students not to just spell the word on the final test but to also use it in a sentence. That way we know of they also understand the meaning of the word. Their weekly homework and center activities provide them time to study the meaning of their HF words and use them in context. We do have a homophones unit in our curriculum, so students will receive direct instruction on all of the most common homophones at that time.

4. You asked, "I understand how you use your stations throughout the week by reading the other posts, but I am curious how many of the stations in the week are devoted to the pattern that week versus high-frequency words? Also, how does a high-frequency word station work when each student has an individual list?"

Each week, we have 3 days of center time. On those days, students complete two pattern centers and one HF center. The activities at the HF centers are designed so students they can study their individualized words. Activities include spelling the words with magnetic letters (or fridge magnets on the SMART Board, playing "roll a word," stamping the words, sticker story (writing a story using the words), using letter stickers to make the words, drawing pictures with the words hidden in the pictures, etc.

I hope I've answered all of your questions!


I am modeling my word study program after the one you and your teaching partner have created. One area that I am changing to save on paper is to have students complete their pretest and weekly test in a composition book. On the left side of the page, I have printed labels that say "My First Try" and "Corrections." Halfway down the page, I have labels that say "Assigned Pattern Words" and "High Frequency Words." On the opposite page, they will take the test. One side is labeled "Assigned Pattern Words", the next is "New Pattern Words," and near the bottom is one that says "High Frequency Words." After the first lesson, students will be expected to set up their book for the next week every Friday after the test. This way, every test is in one book. I slide this in the front of their spelling folder. As my district closely monitors paper usage, I have found that this is a great way to conserve paper and students can easily see which patterns need to be reviewed.

Hi Beth, You are an amazing educator. Thank you for the inspiration. Recently, I found some examples of weekly spelling activities. After hours of searching, I cant seem to find them and don't remember what I clicked to get them. Here are the samples I have (putting words in abc order and writing 2 additional words from the spelling pattern word). Help? I think I am missing out on some other great activities. Regards, Nicole

I teach 3rd grade and our instructional coach sent us your site and we are in love. This is the first year everyone on my team has taught third grade. It has been challenging and rewarding. Is it possible to get a copy of your spelling tests? We don't have the same reading series but we can tweak to meet our needs instead of starting from scratch.

I absolutely love all of your fabulous ideas and I have already implemented a lot of your ideas into my classroom this year along with many other researched ideas(after testing some things last year and spending most of my summer figuring out how to do it all effectively). This is my second year teaching third grade, so I am still constantly trying to figure out what I feel works best and so far, I have had a lot of success with many of your ideas.

Anyway, I implemented the Words Their Way program this year and am having some of the same problems you were having. I was excited to see how you have developed a spelling curriculum and I really love all of your ideas. Now I just need the summer to come so I can make everything!

When I was reading some of your posts last year, I had tried your suggestion with the individual high frequency list for each student and having spelling partners assess each other at the end of the week after the formal, spelling test. I was excited to see that component into the curriculum you designed, because that is one of the things that I feel like my spelling program is lacking. I also feel like I can easily integrate this portion into my spelling program now-until I have time to completely revamp it again in the summer. I have a couple of questions about this though from when I tried to test it out last year. 1: Do you group your partners by ability and/or Are they the same partners as your reading/writing partners? 2: Last year I did group by ability, and some of my lower groups were sometimes not capable of administering the test for their partner (I guess because they had different words, and they would have trouble reading them since they hadn't been introduced to them yet themselves)-although this was rare. Do you ever notice this, and what do you do about it? 3: I know a lot of the high-frequency words are homophones; how do you find the time to make sure that each student understands the meaning of their homophone words when they all have an individual list? 4: I understand how you use your stations throughout the week by reading the other posts, but I am curious how many of the stations in the week are devoted to the pattern that week versus high-frequency words? Also, how does a high-frequency word station work when each student has an individual list?

Sorry for some of my rambling; I hope all of this makes sense. Thank you again for everything you share-it has been very valuable to me as an educator!

Stacey Burton (comment #96),

You asked why I chose not to implement Words Their Way in my classroom. While I do not use the program exactly as suggested in the book, I certainly use many components of the program including some games & practice activities, word lists, word sorts, etc.

However, I was concerned with the overall management of Words Their Way in terms of being able to provide adequate and effective instruction to students at many different levels of word study (especially when I can only carve out 25-30 minutes a day for word study instruction). If you read my comment #18 in this post, you will see how our program allows us to differentiate our word study program (like Words Their Way), but also be able to teach a thorough whole-class lesson & study a shared spelling pattern each week.

Thanks for posting your comments! Do you use Words Their Way? If so, how is it working for you?


b dale (comment #95),

I am not sure what lists you are referring to. I did have some lists that I used (and posted on my website) a few years ago, but I then began implementing my new word study program and did away with those lists. That is probably why there were only 7 posted. I will check my school computer on Monday to see if I have additional lists that were not posted.


I love your website! I've gotten so many great ideas! Would love to talk to you about your Word Study program. Wondering why you chose not to implement Words Their Way? We just started it a couple years ago and it seems like what you're looking for in a program. Anyway, just wondering your thoughts! Read you post regularly! Thanks for so many great ideas!!

Beth, I love your site and it has helped greatly. I had started the year using your spelling lists that had been on your sight. I see they are no longer posted. I am doing some Words Your Way, but also liked the weekly lists you had posted. Is it possible to get the lists that were once posted? I only downloaded the first seven. Thanks for all your help. Barb

Chandler (comment #91),

You asked if I could post the Elementary Spelling Inventory I use with my students at the beginning of the school year. I did not post it on this blog or on my website because it is not something I created myself. It is part of the Words Their Way program. However, I did find a link to it online at this website: http://www.tc.edu/rwp/assessment/2008/materials/documents/spellingele.pdf


Emily (comment #92),

I'm glad you liked this post and the video! Here is a link to my daily schedule: http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/indexschedule.htm


Hi Beth! I loved your post and video about word study. While I was watching the video I wondered what the daily schedule in your classroom looks like as far as when and for how long you spend time in each subject.


Emily K., Denver

Beth, Do you have the Elementary Spelling Inventory template anywhere on your blog? I can't seem to find it. If not, is there a way you could post it? I am also interested in download a the Spelling Inventory templte, a words to learn list template, a pre-test template, and any other pages you include in your word study notebook.

Betsy (comment #89),

The Long Vowel Race Track game is a Print Shop file. You will need to have Print Shop installed on your computer to be able to open and print the file.


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