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April 18, 2018

How to Build a Word Wall

Written By: Brandi Jordan
Originally Published On: August 3, 2010
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How to Build a Word Wall - ReallyGoodTeachers.com

How to Build a Word Wall

If you have always wanted to have a word wall in your classroom, but were not sure how to begin, we can help. Word walls or displays are a great way to encourage vocabulary development and reinforce language skills. Whether you have an entire wall or a simple pocket chart to devote to it, a word wall can work in any classroom. Try the tricks below to get you started this school year!

Word Wall Basics

Cumulative vs. Work in Progress

Contrary to what some may believe, word walls are not cumulative displays of words learned throughout the year. Instead, they are a place to store new vocabulary from current lessons. Take key vocabulary words from stories being read, history lessons being taught and science experiments being conducted and place them on the word wall. As the lessons and stories change, so too should the words on display. Do not feel locked into having the same words displayed all year long, as that is not the true purpose of a class word wall.

Upon Mastery

Once words have been mastered, they can be transferred to a either a cumulative vocabulary board or placed in a file box word bank. Students should also have a record of the words that were displayed, either in a word journal or in their own file box word bank. Some teachers then use the past words for games of Bingo or other brain teasers. You can also pull words and use them as creative story starters for morning writing.

Materials Needed

Word walls can be as simple or as complex as you make them. For the simplest word wall, use a sentence strip pocket chart where you can cut the words to size, slip them into the pockets and display it at the front of the class. If you have more wall space for displays, place the letters of the alphabet in a row and display the current word wall words below the corresponding letters. If there is no board space or wall space available, hang a clothesline across the room and clothespin the words to the line. Write the words on brightly colored sentence strips or on large, pre-made shapes. Make sure that the words are so clearly written that students can see them from across the room.

 

Do you use a word wall in your classroom?  What do you find to be the most effective way to introduce new vocabulary to your students?

Share your ideas below or on the Really Good Teachers Forums! We’d love to hear how you do it!

How to Build a Word Wall - ReallyGoodTeachers.com
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  • Jesscia
    July 12, 2011

    In my room, I have a wall designated for my word wall. The wall however is not big enough to display the entire alphabet. I have the wall divided in half with one half titled “Reading Word Wall” and the other wall titled “Math Word Wall.” I place my High Frequency reading words on the Reading Word Wall and my Math vocabulary on my Math Wall. For reading, I keep the same wall for each Unit. For math, I only keep the words up by the chapter we are covering. I just use sentence strips to write the words on and I tape them up on the wall.

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  • Cheryl
    June 6, 2011

    Great ideas – it’s frustrating every year to have the thing up and not feel like I am using it properly – I like how a word wall should be flexible for the kids you have this year!!!! Does anyone have a template for a word journal? Thanks, and SMiles! :O)

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  • sherrie weerheim
    August 16, 2010

    I had a word wall on my chalkboard, but I think I made a mistake in putting up all the words at once. I will try to put them up as we study them each week. The kids’ spelling words are high frequency words and they are required to spell them correctly in their writing.

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  • Heidi W
    August 15, 2010

    Thanks for posting that word walls shouldn’t be cumulative. I have struggled with this because I don’t have a great deal of available bulletin board space. I have my sentence strips cut apart and ready to go!

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  • Val T
    August 13, 2010

    This is a great way to be organized while studying word wall words.

    Thanks a bunch,

    Val

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