University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Word Walls in a Nutshell

Word Walls in a Nutshell

By Renee Sunder (Pittsburgh teacher)

A teacher must "do" the word wall, rather than just "have" a word wall.

There are many types of word walls. For young children, using a word wall made of high-frequency words aids reading and writing.

Most teachers add 5 new words to the word wall a week.

If using a word wall made of high frequency words, use a grade-appropriate sight word list. These are available from many sources.

It is essential that you do many different types of activities with words of the week for the children to be able to spell, read and write them well.

Begin the word wall each year with names of the students in your classroom. Discuss the patterns, talk about the consonant sounds and vowels, etc.

Students should be expected to spell and write the word wall words correctly.

Word wall word activities should be multi-sensory experiences.

Word wall cards should be cut according to their word shape.

If using high-frequency words, you can display other words such as thematic words or word families on their charts.

All students should be able to see the word wall. However, if this is not possible, students should be able to move their seats/desks in order to see the word wall when needed.

Write a grant to obtain funds needed to implement sight word centers.

"Must Have" Word Wall Sources

Throop, Sara
Success With Sight Words: Multisensory Ways to Teach High-Frequency Words
PhD Creative Teaching Press, 1999. 
Cunningham, Patricia M. and Hall, Dorothy P.
Month by Month Phonics (Available by grade level: Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Upper Grades)
Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company, Inc., 1997.
Cunningham, Patricia M., Hall, Dorothy P., and Sigmon, Cheryl M.
The Teacher's Guide to the Four Blocks: A Multilevel Framework for Grades 1-2
Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company, Inc., 1999.
Hill, Sandi
Developing Literacy Using Reading Manipulatives
Creative Teaching Press, 1997.
Lynch, Judy
Making Word Walls Work
A Complete Systematic Guide with Routines, Grade-Perfect Word Lists, and Reproducible Word Cards to Help All Children Master High-Frequency Words
Teaching Resources, 2005.
Callella, Trish
Making Your Word Wall More Interactive
Creative Teaching Press, 2001.

For further information about working with Word Walls: See the Four Blocks website and look under "Working with Words."