Taking the word-wall beyond the wall

Taking the word-wall beyond the wall

In my pre-k class, our word wall isn’t your traditional word wall, it is a set of words chosen throughout the year based upon words that come up in different units we are studying, words of particular interest to the children, or words that seem to be the most meaningful to the children (like their names)…

I suppose one reason we also are selective in which words go on the word-wall, particularly in my classroom, is because we have very limited wall space for displaying words on a word-wall.  However, our word-wall is only one way we introduce and talk about words throughout the school year. For this post, however, I just want to focus on the words that we add to our word-wall and how we take them beyond the wall…

Just about every word that we add to our word-wall is emphasized in or selected from a children’s book or one of our classroom magazines that we are currently reading. For example, we read “The Cloud Book” by Tomie DePaola for the word cloud and we talked about the different kinds of clouds in our Clifford the Dog classroom magazine….

For each new word that is chosen to add to our wall, I print the word out on sentence strips for the children to keep with them during other activities that will also emphasize the word…

For almost every word we add to our word-wall, we print it and illustrate it (if possible) in our word-wall journals…

The word-wall journals are introduced into the classroom about half way through our school year as a blank book and then the Pre-K children begin adding words and illustrating those words in their journals about once a week the rest of the school year…

In our word-wall journals, the children primarily use only pencil (or colored pencils) for their drawings and to print the words. Then the children will go back and use crayons if they wish to color in their illustrations…

While writing and drawing in the word-wall journals, I use the opportunity to talk about the words. For example, I might bring up the number of sounds (syllables) a word has or how we can connect those words to make a sentence. It all depends on what the children are ready for as we go along each week….

In addition to our classroom literature and word-wall journals, we also take the word-wall beyond the wall by bring the words into our art…

For example, our students painted carrots to emphasize the word “carrot” and they painted watermelons to emphasize the word “watermelon”…

The goal of our word-wall and beyond experiences is to create meaning and memories with these words as well as give our pre-k students the opportunity to build vocabulary, explore the printed material, and offer up opportunities for discussions about how words are used in our everyday world.  Although I do not have a formal plan for teaching my pre-k students how to read, I do find that our word-wall and beyond experiences invite an enthusiastic interest in the reading and writing process…

Oh, and I should mention that we start our word-wall off with our names and our names are always present throughout the entire school year in various places for the children to see and use anytime they would like each day…

There are many other  ways to use a word wall so keep in mind that this is not a word wall tutorial. For me, the word wall is always a work in progress but perhaps what I shared today will be a source of inspiration for you as you consider the possibilities for taking your word wall beyond the wall and into other parts of your classroom experience.

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  • Suzette King Posted July 17, 2012 7:19 am

    Thanks Deborah for this wonderful tutorial on how you use your word wall. This year I will be adding a word wall, although I always try to include the word in there artwork. This school year I am going use “The Color Purple” method of posting the word on every object. Children love to see the letters they have learned formed into an actual word. We have the best “job” ever!

  • Kristah Posted July 17, 2012 8:08 am

    I have never used word journals because my children just weren’t ready to write legibly yet, but I like how you use real items like the carrot on the table to emphasize the word. Many classrooms use the word wall in a way that is not age appropriate. I was told I shouldn’t even have one in my class because it wasn’t age appropriate. I like that you are showing an age appropriate way a word wall can be used.

  • Kelly at Little Wonders’ Days Posted July 17, 2012 8:15 am

    Okay, so this is a “duh” moment for me. This simple enough to do at home, but such a wonderful idea to promote literacy and fine motor skills at home. I’m going to start a mini word wall on the side of our fridge and use some of your ideas.

  • Patricia Posted July 17, 2012 8:57 am

    Our wall space is very limited also. This is similar as to how I introduce sight words. I think I’ll add words from our stories now as you’ve done. How do you or anyone else introduce the sight words? I like to have a weekly new vocabulary word, the bigger the better. I use words that describe the children such as “exceptional, phenomenal, extraordinary, etc. We review the letters and use the word as often as possible throughout the week.

  • Crystal Posted July 17, 2012 9:02 am

    Oh i really appreciate this post. I am in the process of reworking my classroom for next year and wanted to figure out a way to add words/wordwall in a way that would be used and would encourage independent writing. I would love to know how you teach letters, i am struggling with upper case vs. lower case and how to teach both and teach children to write using the appropriate case without overwhelming them.

  • Brenna Posted July 17, 2012 9:38 am

    I do a word wall similar to that as well. The students still learn the small 2 and 3 letter sight words but I try to make the word wall fit in with each theme, too, adding words that go with the theme and concept we are studying. Nice concept and looks like your preschool students get it, too.

  • Jill @ A Mom With A Lesson Plan Posted July 17, 2012 10:38 am

    I love, love, love the word wall! These tips will be perfect for my beginning readers. We have always had sentence strips in the kids art area with the names of everyone they love. It would be so easy to add in a few other important words as well.

  • nancy c dunnagan Posted July 17, 2012 10:56 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have a small room too! I am going to incorporate your idea with words that the students are interested in, especially when learning nursery rhymes and books that have interesting words in them! I am also going to hang my bulletin boards lower so the kids can interact with the words!

  • mel Posted July 17, 2012 1:41 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m planning on incorporating a word wall in my classroom this year and have been looking for the best ways to do it. This really helps!

  • Suzanne Posted July 17, 2012 3:45 pm

    I love this idea. I love the words chosen, I love the books and the illustrations. I wonder if my younger buddies would like an adapted version of this. I could make outline letters of the words for them to trace or colour in. Maybe.

  • School Sparks Renee Posted July 17, 2012 4:06 pm

    Deborah – I love your “beyond the word wall” activities and the word wall journals. Your little ones must be so proud of their accomplishments. You really make learning easy and fun! Renee

  • Amber Posted July 17, 2012 9:44 pm

    Very meaningful! I love the idea of the “word wall” journals!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted July 17, 2012 11:08 pm

    Hi Crystal,
    For the most part, I don’t worry too much at the Pre-K (and earlier) age making sure that the children know when to use upper and lower case letters with the exception of their names for the most part. Rather, I just introduce the concept of upper and lower case forms of the letters and we talk about their use through natural opportunities throughout our writing and other early learning experiences. Here is a couple of more “formalized ways” I do introduce the upper and lower case letters through the school year: See this post: https://www.teachpreschool.org/2012/04/upper-and-lower-case-letters-in-the-salt-tray/ and this post: https://www.teachpreschool.org/2011/10/exploring-capital-and-lowercase-letters-with-my-preschoolers/

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted July 17, 2012 11:11 pm

    Hi Patricia,
    In this post (see link below), I introduce a book called Literacy Beginnings. There is a link to the book at the very end of the page and also a set of links shared by other bloggers that go along with this book. This book would be a great resource for you to read regarding the use of site words and other literacy based processes. See this link: https://www.teachpreschool.org/2011/07/literacy-beginnings-chaper-20-names/

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted July 17, 2012 11:12 pm

    I love that you are going to lower the bulletin boards Nancy! A very important part of early learning is to be able to have real access to the learning materials throughout the classroom!

  • heather at wordplayhouse® Posted July 19, 2012 12:24 pm

    Your words on your word wall are beautifully incorporated into the word journals and other activities your students practice their words by. The repetition and practice are reinforcing the words your students are being introduced to in the books you are reading and the units you are studying. Wonderful!

  • Km Posted July 19, 2012 10:39 pm

    Such fantastic ideas… I am inspired! We sill have a month of summertime learning here at one… So a word wall it is!!!!! Thank you! Xoxoxxoxo

  • Km Posted July 19, 2012 10:41 pm

    Oppss… Here at HOME! :). I love and appreciate how your learning ideas can be used anywhere and everywhere !

  • crystal @ Growing A Jeweled Rose Posted July 21, 2012 3:11 pm

    This has given me some fantastic inspiration for the near future. I am going to have a word wall in my home, and love the way you have extended the concept here. I have pinned this to my early literacy board for when my girls are just a tad older 🙂

  • Monique Posted July 27, 2012 6:16 am

    I’ve dicovered your site a few days ago and I enjoy it very much !
    I’m a french preschool teatcher (poor english speaker…) and I can’t stop going from post to post to catch your wonderfull ideas and very interesting discussions above early chilhood.
    I’ve put you in my favorites and will be faithfull to you.
    Thanks a lot !

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