Word walls can be created on a bulletin board, whiteboard, or wall for children to access. Or, smaller, individual word walls can be made for each child. These more portable word walls can be kept at each child’s desk or table.
When creating a large word wall display, choose an area with enough space that allows you to continue adding more and more words to it. Also, make sure the words will be displayed so children can easily see them. Having words up near the ceiling, for example, is not ideal for young children.
Since words are organized according to the letter they begin with, create headings from A to Z. Leave enough space under each letter to add words. Some educators have children make the headings, use commercially-made letters, or create the headings themselves.
The next step is to add words to the wall. Again, these may be written by the children, store-bought words, or written by the educator. Some educators prefer that children write the words to promote ownership of the word wall and ensure it is a collaborative effort. When attaching the words to the wall, consider whether they will be staying in place or if you want children to be able to take the words down to use during writing activities. Depending on how you intend to use your word wall, tape, sticky tack, or velcro work well.
If you are making individual word walls, file folders work well. Attach a page divided into spaces for each letter of the alphabet. Words can be added using a pencil or marker. The folders are small enough that they can be easily tucked away in a desk when not in use. One benefit of personal word walls is that they can be tailored to the specific words each child needs to focus on.
When introducing a word wall, children will need reminders to use it until it becomes routine. As they become more accustomed to using it, you may be able to add three to five new words each week.
To support the goal of having children use the word wall independently as a reference tool, incorporate daily word wall activities into your program. Try having children chant, clap, or cheer the words to become more familiar with them. When they are writing, set the expectation that all word wall words be spelled correctly since they can be easily referenced. A good learning center activity is “Read the Room.” Give children pointers and have them go around the room, reading all the words that are displayed, including those on the word wall.
Try playing “Word Wall Bingo.” Each child writes words from the word wall on a bingo card. Take the words off the wall and shuffle them up. Choose a word, then have ch