10 Ways to Practice Word Work Words from Any List

Word work has always been a challenge for me as a teacher — I could never get a system in my classroom that made sense or that was easily manageable… until this year!  I am hoping by sharing these ten ways to practice word work words from any list, that you will be inspired to simplify and streamline your own word work time!

Why Should I Have Designated Word Work Time in my Classroom?

Word work time in my classroom is a time that my students are working independently on their word lists and patterns while I am working in a small guided reading group.  Not only does Word Work time give me the opportunity to meet with my groups, but it also lessens the time I have to spend on Word Work during my small group time — instead, I get to focus more on decoding and comprehension!

Why Should I Have a Variety of Word Work Activities for my Students?

Having a variety of activities instead of one set activity for your students to use while practicing their word lists or patterns means that your students won’t get bored… simple as that!  We know what happens when our students get bored, right?

Why Should I Have Activities to Use for ANY List?

Using activities that are specific to certain word lists or spelling patterns has its merits, don’t get me wrong.  BUT, if you are differentiating your word work lists, this can be a prep nightmare.  Planning multiple activities for multiple lists each week will get really old, really fast.  Having activities that can be adapted to use with any word from any list that your students may have will save you SO MUCH TIME!  In addition, your students are going to benefit because of the differentiation you can provide.  Win-Win.

Here are TEN ways that you can engage your students in independent practice of their words, from any list

Mystery Words

Your students can use a white crayon to write the words, and then color over the space with marker to reveal their words.  They love this activity because they can use both crayons and markers.

Syllable Sort

Have your students write down their words on a piece of paper and then cut out each word.  Then, they  can sort their words by number of syllables.  I love this one because of the differentiation it provides — it’s perfect for my firsties that need more of a challenge!

Picture It

Your little artists will love this activity — have them write their word, then draw a picture to represent the word.  I love how this activity not only helps them to practice the spelling or pattern, but it also reinforces meaning.

Stamp It

For kids who learn best by manipulating things, which is a lot of our little learners, stamping their words is a great activity!  I found stamps at the Target Dollar Spot and some little containers at the dollar store to use for this center.  I always have my students write the word, then stamp it.  The constant back and forth between their pencil and the stamps keeps even your most fidgety kiddo on task!

Type It

With the growing emphasis on technology, it will be fun for your students to practice their words by “typing” them!  Use a file folder to make a paper laptop, and then laminate so they can be re-used.


I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that your students love smelly markers.  This is one of my most popular activities for word work — almost always the first one grabbed!  I love how this one has smelly markers AND dice… both of these will catch the attention of even your reluctant little spellers.  Assign a number (1-6) to each “smell” and then they will roll the die to find out which marker to use to write their word.

Spin a Style

This word work activity is fun because there is a spinner… what kid doesn’t love a spinner?!  I think this one is popular with my students because they get to use pencil, marker, and crayon — when else in their school day do we let them use all three on one paper?

Grammar Sort

For this word work activity, your students will write down their words on a piece of paper, and then cut the words out.  They can sort them by parts of speech — we have been working a lot on nouns, verbs, and adjectives so this is our go-to word work activity when I need to recheck that skill!

ABC Order

ABC order is such an important skill for our students to practice – having them write their words on a piece of paper, cut out their words, and then arrange them in ABC order is a word work activity that will keep your students busy and deep in thought!

Play Doh Words

This is a favorite because… well, Play Doh.  Once you clearly set your expectations, using play doh to “make” each word is another word work activity that will capture the attention of those reluctant spellers.


Because I wanted to increase the amount of independence my students would have while completing each activity, I designed a resource that includes these ten activities, plus ten more — each of the activities has visual direction cards to print.  Your students can refer to the visual directions instead of interrupt your small group time with their questions – it has been an absolute lifesaver – and sanity saver 🙂

If you need differentiated word lists, you can check out the ones I use in my classroom with these word work activities by clicking here!

Your Turn:

What are some ways that your students practice their words or word patterns?  How have you made it manageable?  I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

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