Launching Word Work {Week 1}

I am so excited to be teaching using the Daily 5 structure again this year. I think this marks my third or fourth year with it and I am always looking for ways to improve and build upon how things went the prior year.

This year was no different, and I really changed it up my launching Word Work first instead of halfway though! I am so thankful I did and feel like my kids already have a more solid handle on the routine!

Why Start with Word Work?

In years past, I have always launched Daily 5 with Read to Self. While I still think this is the most important of the sections, as it helps to build strong readers in a just-right book of their choice, I wanted to focus on the logistics and management of Word Work right off the bat. I also wanted to walk through my Back to School Word Work Centers with the students and build in some partner and teamwork opportunities to help cultivate classroom community early on. Because so many of my Word Work packets have similar activities, I wanted to ensure that everyone knew what each activity required and that we could all walk through one together to get any of the glitches out.

I am hoping that with the increased focus on Word Work since the beginning of the year, kids will have a firm knowledge of what is required of them at this center and that management on my end will not be as necessary as new words and activities are added to the mix.

Launching Word Work

Day 1: The very first day we began this work was on the third day of school. Because so many were still feeling the summertime restlessness, I began by introducing one of my favorite activities, the word search. We began by reading through the words together and defining a few unknown words along the way. Fortunately, most kiddos were familiar with the structure of a word search, so I was able to send them off to work with their table groups to complete it.

Working in table groups was a great way for all kids of every level to work together to find these words. I was able to wander around and watch how they interacted and answer the occasional question that the table may have. I found that this first session was also a great way to reinforce the Classroom Voice Levels we had established (Level 2 is "Table Talk" this year).

After the 20 minute session was up, no one had finished the search, so I had them keep it in the "Word Work" section of their Reader's Workshop folder and it became an Early Finisher activity for the remainder of the week.

Day 2: Our second day of Word Work began by introducing the Back to School vocabulary cards and student sheets. I passed out a packet that contained all three of the Word Work activities: Syllable Sort, ABC Order, and Parts of Speech Sort. We would work on one at a time, beginning with the syllable sort.

"Syllable" was our Word of the Day which made it helpful for kids to remember to clap/snap/count on their fingers as they segmented the words. Again, kids worked at their table spots and could use each other as resources as they completed the activity. Those who finished early could come see me and I could check them off, allowing them to work on the word search until our time was up. Those who needed a bit more time I could help along and even pull as a small group near the end. This gave me some wonderful one-on-one time with who may struggle with this center later in the year (especially when it becomes an independent activity) and I could give some explicit instruction while the rest of the class was still doing work.

Day 3: The next activity we began together was ABC Order. We began this as a whole-class because I wanted to demonstrate several strategies that could help or hinder their success in this activity. For example, I showed that if I started gluing down the words before I had read through them all, I might miss a word and then have to either peel off the words or draw arrows to the correct spot. This was a nice tie-in with our Habit #2 of the 7 Habits: Begin with the end in mind. We talked about how we could cut out each word and plan it out before gluing them down, or even number in pencil on the word cards, erasing if we get one wrong, etc.

We then split back up into our table groups and began working on this activity. I had the same routine as before for when they finished up: Come show me, I will check over it and if it's a-ok, they can work on their word search. It was either Day 3 or Day 4 that I also introduced some of my higher kids to the "Making Words" center with the letter cards. I allowed them the choice between the two and they could work someplace comfortable in the room (rug, round table, etc.) as they completed these activities.

Day 4: This was the final day we worked on the packet activities and we did the hardest of the three: Parts of Speech Sort. We began by brainstorming some examples of nouns, verbs, and adjectives and adding them to an anchor chart that they could refer back to throughout the lesson. We also discussed how some words, like "grade" could be both a noun and a verb and how they would need to justify where they placed the word by using it in a sentence, etc.

I'm glad I kept this for the very end because it was the activity that required the most teacher interaction for some kids. Because we had been working in Word Work for the week, most kids were very familiar with the words and the requirements, so it freed me up to work more closely with some of my strugglers. I encouraged them to try sorting the words they knew and keep unknown word in a pile for when I came around to visit. We could then work on the pile together and I could also watch their strategies for the known words during this time.

Day 5: This was Friday for us, so I allowed it to be a "catch up" day since the Parts of Speech Sort was a longer minilesson and several kids needed more time to finish it up. Early finishers worked on the word search and the Making Words center and I worked with the strugglers from yesterday to see how they did on day two of this type of work.

It did take a full week to get through this packet, but I am so glad I took the time to work through it with them! I now have much greater confidence that they know and understand the pieces and parts required as well as confidence in their ability to work as a team! The next packet they will see will be our Autumn is in the Air Word Work, which also contains some additional center activities, and I am already breathing easier that much of the expectations will be routine!

Our Week 2 {this week} consists of introducing my permanent Word Work Centers (Word Worth, Place Value, Stamps, etc.). Check back soon to see how I am launching that, along with Read to Self time in our class!


  1. How do you structure readers workshop and daily five in your class? How much time do you give for each?

  2. Most children love word search because they love the challenge. I can see how accomplished they look once they're done with it. Thanks for sharing your 'Word Work Week'. It seems that your students got so busy. :)

  3. I own several of your word work products: Stone Fox, New Year, Word Worth, and Place Value Spelling with hundred AND thousands. I love all of them. I enjoyed reading about how you introduce your centers. Thanks!
    Laughter and Consistency