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September 1, 2016

10 Spelling and Sight Words Center Activities

By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    My students always tell me that Word Works is their favorite literacy center, and with these simple yet engaging spelling and sight word games it is easy to see why! Here’s a look at the center set up in my classroom with explanations of each activity. Make sure to check out each of the 10 activities for downloadable goodies!  All of the colorful borders I used in my templates were created using the Scholastic Word Workshop tool.

    1. Sentence Blocks

    I love these tubs of blocks for so many reasons. First of all, I really like that each part of speech is color-coded (nouns are yellow, adjectives are orange, verbs are blue, etc.) because it makes it easy for me to pull the blocks for each part of speech we are studying. It also makes sentence diagramming a visual experience for students, helping young learners to recognize that each sentence must have a noun and a verb, for example. The connectable nature of the blocks makes it easy for students to form and rearrange sentences as they’d like. The best part, however, is that you don’t have to go out and buy a fancy sentence blocks set you can make your own! I have found that both Mega Blocks/LEGO Duplos or even just colored wooden pieces make great DIY sentence blocks. Choose a variety of colors and assign each color a part of speech. Go through the blocks and use permanent marker to add words on each side of the blocks to create a varied vocabulary. Don’t forget to make blocks for punctuation as well. Your students will love playing with these learning toys and simultaneously build reading and writing skills.

    Use blocks to create sentences.

    1. Boggle

    Boggle is a classroom favorite for many teachers. This game is played by looking at letters arranged on a 4x4 grid to try and join adjacent letters to form as many words as possible. I was so excited to find mini ‘letter games’ sets from Oriental Trading a few years ago, so I bought a dozen for my classroom for only about $8. Students love shaking their game board and hunting for hidden words. If you don’t want to order boggle sets you can also make your own. I created a template you can use by simply adding letters to the grid. If you are studying a specific phonics skill, like short Aa words, for example, you can make sure to only include A’s as the vowel mixed in with a variety of consonants. Once you’ve created the grid students can hunt for words and write them on the lines below the board. 

    Use this printed game board or mini letter games sets.

    1. Play dough

    Who doesn’t love getting their hands on a colorful set of squishy play dough? By using play dough to form letters and words students are able to practice spelling and sight words in a fun, tactile way. Around Halloween time I found these mini Play-Doh containers in the trick-or-treating section and thought they were perfect for literacy centers. I provide each student with a plastic placemat and two colors of playdough (one color for consonants and one for vowels). The students look at their list of spelling words or sight words for the week and roll out the playdough to form each letter of their words. After a student spells one of their words in dough they must then write it on this recording sheet as proof of their activity for the day. Just remind students to keep the dough on the placemat and close the lids tightly when they are finished spelling.

    Spell words with playdough and record them on the worksheet.

    1. Handwriting Practice Cards

    A spelling and sight words center is a great place to add in a little extra handwriting practice. The art of good handwriting is falling to the wayside as technology advances, but it is just as important as ever for students to be able to write legibly and accurately. You can find dry erase handwriting practice cards at most teacher stores as well as places like the dollar store or Target and Walmart. You can also download handwriting Trace and Write pages from Scholastic Printables if you have a subscription. Just laminate the pages and students can write on and wipe off words for every letter of the alphabet. If you aren’t already a Printables subscriber you can try this free handwriting page instead.

    Handwriting activities

    1. Letter Cubes

    Letter cubes or blocks make for such a versatile manipulative in a spelling and sight words center. I love having sets of interlocking cubes so that the words students create stay stuck together, but it’s not necessary to purchase a set when you can make your own. Just use blank Unifix cubes from your math center or even plain wooden blocks for a homemade set of blocks by writing letters on each cube. If you can, make your vowels one color and your consonants another. When your students are using the letter cubes in class to form spelling and sight words, have them record each word they create on this letter cubes recording sheet.

    Use letter cubes to spell words and record them on this worksheet.

    1. Magnetic Letters

    Just like letter cubes, magnetic letters allow students to physically manipulate the letters of the alphabet to create spelling words and sight words. My Word Works center is full of baskets of magnetic letters accompanied by cookie sheets I purchased at the dollar store. When a child chooses this activity, they take a cookie sheet and a set of magnetic letters and form the words of the week on their magnetic surface. To show that they made it through all of their assigned words I have them record their words on this worksheet and keep it in their Word Works folder. There’s something magical about making words with magnets that draws students in and has them coming back to this center week after week.

    Use magnetic letters to create words and record them on this worksheet.

    1. Letter Dice

    While letter dice may seem similar to letter cubes, they function differently in a spelling and sight words games center. Provide students with a set of letter dice (five total dice will allow you to have each letter of the alphabet included at least once). Ask students to roll a die a single time and record the letter they roll on this page. Students then must use that letter to think of a word (or multiple words) that begin with the letter. For example, if a student rolls a Gg they might choose to write grape or giraffe on the line next to the letter. Game play can repeat for as long as time allows or until students have rolled all of the letters of the alphabet.

    Use letter dice to roll a letter and write a word that begins with the letter.

    1. Letter Stamps

    I love letter stamps and so do my students! Each week I have a “Read, Write, & Stamp” activity that I create with our spelling words and sight words. The kids absolutely love getting to use our alphabet stamps with their choice of colorful ink. If you don’t want to take the time to make a new worksheet each week you can also offer your students the chance to simply stamp out their words of the week in their notebooks or on this recording sheet.

    Letter stamps and worksheets

    1. Mini Dry Erase Boards

    No spelling and sight words center would be complete without a set of mini dry erase boards. These can be used for activities in every subject area, but are especially great for practicing phonics and writing skills. My students love to rainbow write their spelling words and sight words for the week by using multiple colors of dry erase markers. They may write in rainbow order, change colors for consonants and vowels, or even create patterns (ABA, ABC, ABBA, etc.) with the colors of markers they choose. Another fun dry erase board activity is to have students write out a complete sentence for each of their words of the week. By writing their sentences on dry erase boards students are able to go back and edit what they’ve written, making changes as necessary in order to practice self-correcting.

     

    1. Fishing for Spelling Words

    Scholastic Printables is full of spelling and sight word games that would be perfect in a Word Works center. One of my favorite freebies is Fishing for Spelling Words. All you need to create this spelling game is a plastic fish bowl and the printed pages from the link above. Begin by writing the spelling or sight words of the week on the fish cut outs. Place all the fish in the fish bowl and leave it with the instructions page and a class set of recording sheets. Students can fish for a word, read it aloud, and then write it on their fishy answer sheet. To make the game even more fun, attach a paperclip to each fish card inside the bowl and have students use fishing poles made from a magnet tied to a pencil with a piece of string. This is another great way to make repeated practice of high frequency words and spelling skills both exciting and motivating for students.

    Fishing for Spelling Words Printable

     

    I hope you have been able to find a few new ideas for some great spelling and sight words games to use in your classroom. If you try any of them out I’d love to hear how it goes! Got additional ideas of your own? Leave me a comment below and share your centers ideas with everyone.

     

    My students always tell me that Word Works is their favorite literacy center, and with these simple yet engaging spelling and sight word games it is easy to see why! Here’s a look at the center set up in my classroom with explanations of each activity. Make sure to check out each of the 10 activities for downloadable goodies!  All of the colorful borders I used in my templates were created using the Scholastic Word Workshop tool.

    1. Sentence Blocks

    I love these tubs of blocks for so many reasons. First of all, I really like that each part of speech is color-coded (nouns are yellow, adjectives are orange, verbs are blue, etc.) because it makes it easy for me to pull the blocks for each part of speech we are studying. It also makes sentence diagramming a visual experience for students, helping young learners to recognize that each sentence must have a noun and a verb, for example. The connectable nature of the blocks makes it easy for students to form and rearrange sentences as they’d like. The best part, however, is that you don’t have to go out and buy a fancy sentence blocks set you can make your own! I have found that both Mega Blocks/LEGO Duplos or even just colored wooden pieces make great DIY sentence blocks. Choose a variety of colors and assign each color a part of speech. Go through the blocks and use permanent marker to add words on each side of the blocks to create a varied vocabulary. Don’t forget to make blocks for punctuation as well. Your students will love playing with these learning toys and simultaneously build reading and writing skills.

    Use blocks to create sentences.

    1. Boggle

    Boggle is a classroom favorite for many teachers. This game is played by looking at letters arranged on a 4x4 grid to try and join adjacent letters to form as many words as possible. I was so excited to find mini ‘letter games’ sets from Oriental Trading a few years ago, so I bought a dozen for my classroom for only about $8. Students love shaking their game board and hunting for hidden words. If you don’t want to order boggle sets you can also make your own. I created a template you can use by simply adding letters to the grid. If you are studying a specific phonics skill, like short Aa words, for example, you can make sure to only include A’s as the vowel mixed in with a variety of consonants. Once you’ve created the grid students can hunt for words and write them on the lines below the board. 

    Use this printed game board or mini letter games sets.

    1. Play dough

    Who doesn’t love getting their hands on a colorful set of squishy play dough? By using play dough to form letters and words students are able to practice spelling and sight words in a fun, tactile way. Around Halloween time I found these mini Play-Doh containers in the trick-or-treating section and thought they were perfect for literacy centers. I provide each student with a plastic placemat and two colors of playdough (one color for consonants and one for vowels). The students look at their list of spelling words or sight words for the week and roll out the playdough to form each letter of their words. After a student spells one of their words in dough they must then write it on this recording sheet as proof of their activity for the day. Just remind students to keep the dough on the placemat and close the lids tightly when they are finished spelling.

    Spell words with playdough and record them on the worksheet.

    1. Handwriting Practice Cards

    A spelling and sight words center is a great place to add in a little extra handwriting practice. The art of good handwriting is falling to the wayside as technology advances, but it is just as important as ever for students to be able to write legibly and accurately. You can find dry erase handwriting practice cards at most teacher stores as well as places like the dollar store or Target and Walmart. You can also download handwriting Trace and Write pages from Scholastic Printables if you have a subscription. Just laminate the pages and students can write on and wipe off words for every letter of the alphabet. If you aren’t already a Printables subscriber you can try this free handwriting page instead.

    Handwriting activities

    1. Letter Cubes

    Letter cubes or blocks make for such a versatile manipulative in a spelling and sight words center. I love having sets of interlocking cubes so that the words students create stay stuck together, but it’s not necessary to purchase a set when you can make your own. Just use blank Unifix cubes from your math center or even plain wooden blocks for a homemade set of blocks by writing letters on each cube. If you can, make your vowels one color and your consonants another. When your students are using the letter cubes in class to form spelling and sight words, have them record each word they create on this letter cubes recording sheet.

    Use letter cubes to spell words and record them on this worksheet.

    1. Magnetic Letters

    Just like letter cubes, magnetic letters allow students to physically manipulate the letters of the alphabet to create spelling words and sight words. My Word Works center is full of baskets of magnetic letters accompanied by cookie sheets I purchased at the dollar store. When a child chooses this activity, they take a cookie sheet and a set of magnetic letters and form the words of the week on their magnetic surface. To show that they made it through all of their assigned words I have them record their words on this worksheet and keep it in their Word Works folder. There’s something magical about making words with magnets that draws students in and has them coming back to this center week after week.

    Use magnetic letters to create words and record them on this worksheet.

    1. Letter Dice

    While letter dice may seem similar to letter cubes, they function differently in a spelling and sight words games center. Provide students with a set of letter dice (five total dice will allow you to have each letter of the alphabet included at least once). Ask students to roll a die a single time and record the letter they roll on this page. Students then must use that letter to think of a word (or multiple words) that begin with the letter. For example, if a student rolls a Gg they might choose to write grape or giraffe on the line next to the letter. Game play can repeat for as long as time allows or until students have rolled all of the letters of the alphabet.

    Use letter dice to roll a letter and write a word that begins with the letter.

    1. Letter Stamps

    I love letter stamps and so do my students! Each week I have a “Read, Write, & Stamp” activity that I create with our spelling words and sight words. The kids absolutely love getting to use our alphabet stamps with their choice of colorful ink. If you don’t want to take the time to make a new worksheet each week you can also offer your students the chance to simply stamp out their words of the week in their notebooks or on this recording sheet.

    Letter stamps and worksheets

    1. Mini Dry Erase Boards

    No spelling and sight words center would be complete without a set of mini dry erase boards. These can be used for activities in every subject area, but are especially great for practicing phonics and writing skills. My students love to rainbow write their spelling words and sight words for the week by using multiple colors of dry erase markers. They may write in rainbow order, change colors for consonants and vowels, or even create patterns (ABA, ABC, ABBA, etc.) with the colors of markers they choose. Another fun dry erase board activity is to have students write out a complete sentence for each of their words of the week. By writing their sentences on dry erase boards students are able to go back and edit what they’ve written, making changes as necessary in order to practice self-correcting.

     

    1. Fishing for Spelling Words

    Scholastic Printables is full of spelling and sight word games that would be perfect in a Word Works center. One of my favorite freebies is Fishing for Spelling Words. All you need to create this spelling game is a plastic fish bowl and the printed pages from the link above. Begin by writing the spelling or sight words of the week on the fish cut outs. Place all the fish in the fish bowl and leave it with the instructions page and a class set of recording sheets. Students can fish for a word, read it aloud, and then write it on their fishy answer sheet. To make the game even more fun, attach a paperclip to each fish card inside the bowl and have students use fishing poles made from a magnet tied to a pencil with a piece of string. This is another great way to make repeated practice of high frequency words and spelling skills both exciting and motivating for students.

    Fishing for Spelling Words Printable

     

    I hope you have been able to find a few new ideas for some great spelling and sight words games to use in your classroom. If you try any of them out I’d love to hear how it goes! Got additional ideas of your own? Leave me a comment below and share your centers ideas with everyone.

     
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