This year I am working as a mentor and coach to some very nice PK and Kindergarten teachers! I am very excited to get to visit their classrooms and help them make learning FUN!!!! Last week we met and the subject of word walls came up. It seems that “some other people at their school” (that’s code for administrators) wondered why there were no words on the word wall the first week of school. I’m sure you know and they knew that words don’t just appear on the word wall – they have to be introduced first and discussed so that the children understand 1. that they are WORDS and 2. that the print has meaning. Four year olds are like that! So here is a picture of what the word wall should look like the first few days of school.
Yep! Completely empty except for the letters with pictures. By the way did you know it is important to always put the pictures after the print when displaying words in your classroom. That way the children have to attend to the print first before they get the meaning from the pictures. After a few days (weeks -yikes!) when everyone has stopped crying, you can start introducing words. The most important word to a 4 or 5 year old is…….you guessed it……their name. We talked about introducing each child, showing their picture and looking at the letters in their name and finding their name on the name chart (also hanging in the classroom). You can do class cheers with the letters in their name and/or cut the name apart into individual letters and mix them up and practice putting them back into the correct order (with a model to look at of course).
After you have done a few names your word wall will start to fill up with smiling faces and friend’s names.
These teachers have their word walls displayed on a magnetic whiteboard, so during center time the students can take the words down and put them back up them over and over again. This is great practice for looking at the first letter of the name and trying to match it to a letter on the word wall. Many people don’t realize just how many skills are required for a four or five year old to be able to match letters. First they have to look and see if there are straight lines or curves, if the letter is tall or short, what position the letter is in (b/d), is it uppercase or lowercase, and they have to be able to separate it from the other letters in the word. That’s a lot of analytical observations for a 4 year old.
In this kindergarten room the children are busy using the word wall to read the room.
This teacher has already added a few more words to her word wall. As you can see she has them color coded. The pink cards are thematic words – see, feel, hear taste (The Five Senses), and the orange cards contain sensory words such as hard, soft, rough etc.
I think the teachers have done a great job with their word walls and will be able to explain what they are doing to “those other people”. One more thing, the names will stay up all year – depending on your class, last names can be added later. Once a theme of instruction is complete, those thematic cards come down and go into the writing center to be used as a reference for the children’s writing.
Here are 3 more pictures of another word wall.
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