Word building activities with multisensory word work materials were always a go-to learning center in my second grade classroom. These days, with some students learning at home and strict sanitation practices in place in classrooms that are learning in person, hands-on letter manipulatives aren’t always a feasible option. Digital word work activities are a great way to allow all students safe and equitable access to word-building experiences. With digital letter tiles, no additional cleaning or clean-up is necessary. Every student can have his or her own set of moveable letters with just a few clicks of a mouse! Here are a few ways you can use digital word work mats to engage your students in meaningful word work activities in the classroom or at home.
Practice High Frequency Words
High-frequency words are words that appear very often in reading. They are also commonly referred to as sight words. Mastery of high-frequency words is key to developing strong readers and writers. Because they occur so often in texts, reading fluency will increase when students are able to recognize a number of these words right away. Writing stamina will increase when students can spell these words with automaticity. Word building activities are one way to build mastery of high-frequency words.
You can quickly and easily type a set of high-frequency words directly into the word list box at the top of the word work mat prior to assigning a word-building activity to your students in Google Classroom or Seesaw. If you’d like to differentiate practice, students can be taught to type in select words from personalized word lists as well. Once the word list has been entered, students simply drag and drop the moveable tiles to build their words digitally. If students are working in Seesaw, you can also ask them to record themselves reading the words they built to check for fluency.
Practice Spelling Words
Many classrooms utilize weekly spelling lists to guide the learning of a specific spelling or phonics pattern. If your students are assigned spelling lists, those words can also be added to the word list box at the top of the digital word work mat prior to assigning the activity to your class. Simply click in the word list box and type the spelling words. For longer lists, duplicate the slide and add additional words on a second slide.
Work with Spelling Patterns
Another way to organize word work instruction is to teach focused minilessons around specific spelling patterns. In this case, you may follow up your lesson by asking students to apply their learning by generating their own lists of words that include the pattern taught. Students build their own examples with digital letter tiles and type them into the word list box.
Open Word Building
Open word-building activities are a way for students to bring together many facets of their phonics and word knowledge simultaneously. In these activities, students build as many words as they can utilizing a specific group of letters. Letter groups can be randomly chosen, chosen to reflect a specific spelling pattern, or themed. Studying the words students build on their own is a way to assess their current level of understanding. Observations can guide future instruction of individuals, small groups, or your class as a whole. Try it out with this free St. Patrick’s Day digital word work mat for Google Slides!
If you’d like to create your own version with a different letter group, begin with any digital word work mat and follow the video instructions below. Be sure to let me know how it goes!