Word Wall + Mini Word Wall Freebie

One of the most important tools I use in my classroom is the Word Wall. Nearly every elementary classroom today has a word wall. Let me ask you a question:

1. Do you "have" a word wall?  
2. Do you "have" a word wall or do you "do" word wall?

Yes, there is HUGE difference between the two!

When I first began teaching 10 years ago it was common to "have" a word wall. We were all told to make sure we had a word wall in the classroom. Boy mine was cuuuute! I even has this ridiculous cloud paper behind it at one point.  I had all our common sight words up there and I'd even throw up some vocabulary words I thought the kids should know. Oh, what a disaster!!!! (I'm actually glad I don't have pictures of it because I would definitely be too embarrassed to show it to you! My kids did not make true, authentic connections with any of those words.... I "had" a word wall. :( (seriously I probably just look those kids up and apologize to them now - I was clueless)..... but you live and learn and make improvements, right?

With experience and obtaining my Master's in Reading, I learned so much. I learned that the word wall should be the focal point of the primary classroom. In my classroom now, our learning revolves around it. In kindergarten, those word wall words are the foundation of my students' lives as readers. They have to know those words inside and out!

First, I want to show you my word wall…. (yeah so not a great pic, but you get the idea). Notice I use a non-distracting background color -- no more cloud paper....and all the words are backed by color. This is so critical. More on that later. 

Yes - there are 2 (a physical word wall and a promethean word wall), but they are the same (word wall words are written in the same color on both and the picture cues are the same on both). I love having both and teach my kids to use both as resources interchangeably. 

Ok, so earlier I mentioned it's uber important to back your word wall words with color - especially those easily confused words. Placing my word wall words on colored backgrounds really helps my kids internalize those words. It helps give kids a mental image of each word. 

My kinders are so good at this they can tell you what color a word wall word is without looking (and of course they are super proud of that ability). The reason they can tell you the color.....and the reason that is awesome is because they are seeing that word in their mind's eye. They not only remember that color, but the other features of that particular word. The color is a hook in their mind to hang that word --making kids less likely to forget it!

For years I've used construction paper and/or colored copy paper to back my words. The colors are good, but throughout the year, the colors begin to fade and just look yucky!! So, each year I was making new word wall word cards for my word wall. Well.... this just gets plain OLD!!!

I've seen tons of great ideas on Pinterest about how to use the paint chip cards for various things. This got me thinking..... Could I use paint chip cards to back my words????

So last year I gave it a try..............AND ............IT worked beautifully!!! Woo-hoo!! I love when something free works out the way I intend!!

I chose particularly bright cards (2-3 of each color). Any word that begins with the same letter must be a different color.... And, words that are easily confused must be backed with a different color ("am" and "me")......

I hope you like this tip! ...........and guess what....after using them for an entire year, they look as good as they did the day I made them. I am now using them at home for my son's word wall. :) Which brings me to my next idea....

Many of you know that I will be homeschooling my son this next year. Here is the "mini" word wall we made for my son in his classroom at home aka...my office. He had so much fun helping me put it together. I made the header cards smaller so it doesn't take up much room.....our home classroom isn't very big so these worked perfect. He can still see the word wall from anywhere in the room! 

See I told you that I was using the same word wall cards I made last year (you may have to look close but we currently have the words I, can, and like on the word wall). The larger cards are actually our family's names written out (just like how we write the students' names and place those on the word wall or name wall at school). Reagan really loved making a connection with seeing how to write all his brothers and sister's names. He's got quite a lot. :)

Reagan is pointing to the letters and words as he does the "snap and clap". I'll tell you more about that below.

Here is a close up of the letter card and the words below. I really like how these cards are a perfect size for smaller rooms. They all fit in a tighter area, yet there's still plenty of room to add words below. :) I used to use a tri-fold board with a "mini" word wall for the writing center. I also had one behind my guided reading table if my word wall wasn't easily accessible from my guided reading table. These cards would work perfect for that or if you simply have a small classroom. But, I'm sure none of us have small classrooms, right?

If you like this "mini" word wall, you can grab the header cards here FREE!! Just click below!

Now a word wall post would not be complete without some idea of how to use it, right? Remember, we don't want to "have" a word wall, we want to "do" word wall -- and the "do" indicates that it's an interactive activity. 

Everyday we begin our word wall time with a chant: A,a, apple - /a/, B, b, ball - /b/, C, c, carrot - /c/.……. Then we snap and clap each word wall word. After we've done the chant and snap and clap we ALWAYS follow with a game of some sort. Everyday we play a different game.

Here are some ideas to help implement and actually use your word wall each day. Some of these ideas I've come up with and others are ideas I've attained from various places. I've used them so long, I couldn't possibly tell you where I got them from.

***Snap and Clap***

Read a word wall word (www)
1. Clap as you read the word.
2. Snap as you spell the word.
3. Clap again as you read the word.

For example, If I was going to Snap and Clap the word 'like', it would be done this way:
like (clap) -- l (snap), i (snap), k (snap), e (snap) -- like (clap)

It is important the kids LOOK at the word as they Snap and Clap. Do NOT allow them to simply recite them without looking. Looking, saying, and clapping/snapping help imprint the word in their brains!

***Flashlight Word Wall***
Turn off all the lights, hand a child a flashlight. The child chooses a word wall word as the whole class recites this poem:
"Flashlight, flashlight, oh so bright. Shine on a word with all your light!"Kids can read the word then "Snap and Clap".

***Eraser Race***
1. You can either use index cards (or cute diecuts) with word wall words printed on them or simply write various word wall words on a board.
2. Give 2 kids an eraser. Call out a word wall word and then kids "race" to erase that word wall word. The first one to erase the correct word gets to choose the next person to compete.

1. Print a different word wall word on a set of Jenga blocks (one www per block).
2. Kids build a Jenga tower.
3. They play Jenga like normal except as they pull out a block they must read the block.
4. The one with the most Jenga blocks at the end wins (although in kinder I really try not to focus on competition).

***Tall Towers***
1. Make a set of word wall words(www) on index cards. On the back of the card, assign points (1, 2, or 3)
2. Kids take turns reading a word. If correct, they choose that number of unifix cubes and stack them in a tower. For example, if they read a word with a number 3 on back - they stack 3 unifix cubes into a tower.

***Word Wall, Beach Ball*** -
Kids stand in a circle. I begin by calling out a word wall word and toss the beach ball to a kid. He or she tells me the color of the word on the word wall. That child then says a word wall word and calls another child's name before tossing the ball. The cycle continues. 

To speed the pace of the game, I count "1, 2, 3" - the ball must be tossed or it comes back to me. That prevents anyone from holding onto the ball. Also ONLY the child's name called can touch the ball. If anyone else touches the ball, he/she must sit out. I do this for safety mainly. I don't want a ton of kids diving for the ball. :0)

***Hot Potato***
We all sit in a circle. I play music as we pass a Mr. Potato Head or small ball. When the music stops, I say, "Read a red word". The child who is holding the potato/ball reads a word from the word wall that is red. That child gets to choose where the ball will start back up. My rule for this game is that you may only hold the potato for 3 seconds or you are out. That really helps keep kids from holding onto the potato too long.   

Sometimes I start the game with a blank Mr. Potato Head. Each time it stops on a kid who reads a word wall word - that child gets to choose a Mr. Potato Head body part to add. They LOVE this!

***Musical Chairs *** 
Place chairs in a circle. Tape a different word wall word on the back of each seat - one for each of your students. We set up the chairs in a big circle. Kids sit in a seat. As the music starts, the kids start walking in a circle. When the music stops kids find a seat closest to them. I show a word wall word. The kids read the word then check to see which word is at the back of their seat. If they have the matching word wall word - they are out and can sit in the middle of the circle. Sometimes those that are out help me show a word wall word.

***Writing Chairs*** 
This game is very similar to the Musical Chairs above. The main difference is no one is out. Each child has a marker board and a marker. We play music and they walk around. When the music stops, they sit. Then at once all students look for the word on the back of their seats and write the word on the index card. On the count of 3 we all "showcase" - share the word we wrote. Then we erase and start again.

*** Cha Cha Word Wall *** 
I have enough maracas for every student in the class to have one. So, for this activity we will get out the maracas and go to town.  We sing the word wall words to the tune of the Cha-Cha!
like, like, like, like, like, like 
l-i-k-e, like -i-k-e, like  l-i-k-e,  like l-i-k-e, like l-i-k-e, l-i-k-e

These are just a few ideas and activities I do with my word wall to keep it fun, engaging, and INTERACTIVE. I choose a different game or activity each day. This is a time of day the kids love because they think it's all about FUN…. "Shhhh. Can we say that word out loud????" Go ahead…..give it a try and see what happens :0)

What are some fun word wall activity you do with your kiddos as a whole group? Leave an idea in the comments below. :)


  1. I have rearranged my classroom to make sure "I do" word wall this year not just have a word wall. Thank you for inspiring me and for your amazing ideas.

  2. Thank you for this great idea! I'm going to use this with my children.

  3. Thanks so much for this great idea. I'm going to use this with my children.

  4. Thank you for this great idea! I'm going to use this with my children.

  5. Thank you for these smaller-sized items, perfect for our homeschool classroom! I'm in love with all your stuff on TPT, but it seems like the posters (I especially love the monster-themed behavior chart!) would be too big for my limited wall space. :( --Tammy W.

  6. Thank you for your inspiration. I am going to do this with my nephew this summer. He wants to learn to read before going to kindergarten.