Taking the word-wall beyond the wall

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on July 16, 2012

in Language Arts, Word Wall and Beyond

In my pre-k class, our word wall isn’t your traditional word wall, it is a set of words chosen throughout the year based upon words that come up in different units we are studying, words of particular interest to the children, or words that seem to be the most meaningful to the children (like their names)…

I suppose one reason we also are selective in which words go on the word-wall, particularly in my classroom, is because we have very limited wall space for displaying words on a word-wall.  However, our word-wall is only one way we introduce and talk about words throughout the school year. For this post, however, I just want to focus on the words that we add to our word-wall and how we take them beyond the wall…

Just about every word that we add to our word-wall is emphasized in or selected from a children’s book or one of our classroom magazines that we are currently reading. For example, we read “The Cloud Book” by Tomie DePaola for the word cloud and we talked about the different kinds of clouds in our Clifford the Dog classroom magazine….

For each new word that is chosen to add to our wall, I print the word out on sentence strips for the children to keep with them during other activities that will also emphasize the word…

For almost every word we add to our word-wall, we print it and illustrate it (if possible) in our word-wall journals…

The word-wall journals are introduced into the classroom about half way through our school year as a blank book and then the Pre-K children begin adding words and illustrating those words in their journals about once a week the rest of the school year…

In our word-wall journals, the children primarily use only pencil (or colored pencils) for their drawings and to print the words. Then the children will go back and use crayons if they wish to color in their illustrations…

While writing and drawing in the word-wall journals, I use the opportunity to talk about the words. For example, I might bring up the number of sounds (syllables) a word has or how we can connect those words to make a sentence. It all depends on what the children are ready for as we go along each week….

In addition to our classroom literature and word-wall journals, we also take the word-wall beyond the wall by bring the words into our art…

For example, our students painted carrots to emphasize the word “carrot” and they painted watermelons to emphasize the word “watermelon”…

The goal of our word-wall and beyond experiences is to create meaning and memories with these words as well as give our pre-k students the opportunity to build vocabulary, explore the printed material, and offer up opportunities for discussions about how words are used in our everyday world.  Although I do not have a formal plan for teaching my pre-k students how to read, I do find that our word-wall and beyond experiences invite an enthusiastic interest in the reading and writing process…

Oh, and I should mention that we start our word-wall off with our names and our names are always present throughout the entire school year in various places for the children to see and use anytime they would like each day…

There are many other  ways to use a word wall so keep in mind that this is not a word wall tutorial. For me, the word wall is always a work in progress but perhaps what I shared today will be a source of inspiration for you as you consider the possibilities for taking your word wall beyond the wall and into other parts of your classroom experience.

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