How to Differentiate Word Work and Engage Your Students

Word work is an important component of a primary literacy program, and when the needs of your students vary from early readers to very accomplished readers working beyond grade level, the task of preparing activities can be daunting every week. I've got some suggestions for how you can differentiate your word work component without pulling your hair out!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

First things first... storage. I got my centers organized in this great storage rack that I inherited from another teacher who was purging her classroom! Score! :) It is perfect for these!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
The actual centers that I've created can be used with any list of words you provide - that's the differentiation - and I'll get to that more at the end of this post. First, I'd like to share some of the activities that my students love using!

Alphabet Stamps

I grabbed these stamps at Michaels. They weren't cheap, but I did use a 40% off coupon! These days you can find them in many more stores, so keep your eyes open!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
The students have been keen to use them. I understand why... I would have loved using these at school when I was a kid!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

Chunk Magnets

I inherited these with my new primary classroom. I have no idea where they came from, or where they can be purchased, but they are great!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
Did you notice the blur to the second photo? That's because this student was so engaged with these that I couldn't catch him in a still position!!

Rainbow Words

A simple center to include, but this one really speaks to the artistic students in the class. My girls especially seem to love it! :)
Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

Bananagrams

I knew this would be one of the most popular choices, and I was right! Typically, it is the first activity to leave the drawer!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

Other Options Included:

These are some of the favorites that we are currently using, but my most recent resource update includes options for dry erase boards, Play Doh and Play Doh stamps, stencils, Wikki Stix, letter beads, letter tiles, keyboarding, and Boggle. You can see my Boggle board on display here:

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!
My students are SO engaged in all parts of The Daily 5 program, but Word Work is the favorite! They love it, but I love it more!

All these centers PLUS the storage labels, activity sheets AND an editable package are available in my TpT store! Grab them here:

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

Back to the differentiation... I meet the needs of ALL of my students by providing them with differentiated word lists. Need word lists for use with YOUR word work centers? Look no further! I have you covered, in a BIG way!!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

This 630+ page resource is easily assembled either by spelling pattern OR by student! These are a favorite in my classroom and are COMPLETELY EDITABLE!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

Are YOU using The Daily 5 and CAFE in your classroom? What does your word work look like? I would love to hear about how it is going - leave me a message at the end of this post!

Check out more great word work ideas and resources on this Pinterest board:


Pin this post!

Looking for engaging word work ideas for your classroom that are differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners? The resources and ideas in this blog post are easy to set up and will work with ANY word list all year long!

Want more great teaching resources like this one to use in your classroom?

15 comments

  1. Love your centers! I was curious... do your students independently remove and return these drawers..? Might seem like an odd question.. I am only wondering because I have the exact same drawer cart, and I am concerned to use it for center work because it can be difficult to put put the drawer back in once it is removed. Especially for my kindergarteners, maybe you have a bit older students..?

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    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by! So far, so good. The kids have been able to remove the drawers, take them to their chosen work area, and return them independently. A couple of students have had a little trouble putting those drawers back in, but they are quick to help each other out! :) I do teach 2nd and 3rd grades though, so they are a little older than your little ones.

      ~Erin

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    2. I let my 1st graders return the drawers. I teach them how to do it properly. I had a block of 15 minutes where I demonstrated how to do it. First, I did it the right way and wrong way. Then, I had a student show me the right and wrong way. Students provided feedback on how to improve. Then I took out all of my drawers and had each student put a box away. This taught my students how to be patient and help each other. I do this for my math centers.

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  2. When I go to Facebook, there are no products under Fan Freebies. Am I looking in the right place? I love your products by the way :)

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    1. Thank you SO much for pointing that out! My fangate host seems to have updated their platform since I posted the last freebie, and while I can see them in my set-up screen you're right - they are not appearing on my page. :( I am out of town, but hoping that I can have them up and running later today. If you're following my Facebook page I will post an update when they are working again!

      Thanks again!!
      ~Erin

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  3. I want to be in our class! Everything looks so FUN! Thanks for these great ideas!

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  4. Hey Erin! I have this exact cart and I need to put it too better use! Love your idea! Just curious if you have the labels available anywhere?

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    1. Hi Bridgett!

      Thanks for stopping by! I do have labels available! They are included in my word work centers package. You can grab them by clicking the Word Work Centers image at the bottom of the post.

      Enjoy!
      ~Erin

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  5. What are the drawer dimensions? Most of the drawer carts have shallow drawers?

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    1. Hi Tami!

      The cart is just like this one, available on Amazon: http://ow.ly/4mLp3R

      ~Erin

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  6. Love your centers! Any idea where to purchase word chunk magnets like you have? I haven't been able to find them online, but they look super cool!

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    1. Thanks, Liv! Unfortunately, I have no idea where they come from. I inherited them when I moved from Grade 5 to Grade 2/3 three years ago. Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Erin

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  7. Hi Erin! Do you use these centers for 2nd grade? I am starting 2nd grade this year from teaching 5th. I'm trying to find new grade appropriate centers for the 2nd graders.

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    1. Hi Amy!

      Thanks for stopping by! I sure do use these with 2nd grade students. I've taught 2/3 for the past three years and this is what I've been using, along with my differentiated word lists (bit.ly/WordLists)! :)

      Hope that helps!
      Erin

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