In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

Word Building

on January 5, 2012

Do you remember playing the word game with your class growing up where you make as many words as you can from a given phrase? It might be THANKSGIVING or SCHOOL IS OUT. I was always given a sheet of paper and told “Go!” That childhood activity was my inspiration for this activity.

I started by folding a sheet of  8.5 x 11 inch paper into sixteenths, and in each box I wrote one of the letters to spell HAPPY NEW YEAR TO US. I cut apart the pieces, making sure that I had enough sets for my students to be divided into partners.

I used the Random Name Picker from ClassTools to divide my class into partners. By the way, it’s amazing how the kids never complain when I do it this way. I handed out a set of letters to each pair of students. The ability to have the letters to manipulate made a tremendous difference for my students, whether in upper or lower grades. This was the part that kept it fresh and engaging for my students, and it addressed a different part of their brain development.

Instead of being allowed to create any words they wanted, the first round required partners to create as many two letter words as possible. After 90 seconds, we shared our words and then brainstormed more that we could create. In round two, the students had 2 1/2 minutes to come up with as many 3 letter words as they could. In round three, we made four letter words. It was awesome to watch them focus on word development and not just creating the biggest words that they could. And, just so you know, the biggest word they ended up coming up with in the last round was “yesterday” (they turned one of the P’s upside down). I can’t fight resourcefulness.

The kids are begging to do it again, and I think we will. What phrase will we use next?

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3 responses to “Word Building

  1. Nancy says:

    Sounds a lot like what I use with my 2nd graders. You can read about it here http://atypical2nd.blogspot.com/2010/10/beat-teacher-is-not-what-you-think-it.html?m=1

    Glad you’re back among the PLN. We’ve missed you.

  2. Beth Still says:

    Welcome back my friend. The fantastic thing about a PLN is that it will never go away. You know you will be welcomed back and it won’t be long before you find that it feels like you never away from us.

  3. Ruth Ann Craft says:

    Wonderful idea. I have done this with the words written on the board, but by giving them the letters to manipulate it should open up a brand new view. Thanks.

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