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Word Work: organizing lessons and supplies

Word work activities are such valuable tools for teaching our young students. I know how hard you work to help your students build the foundations for important reading and writing skills that will last a lifetime. With all of the word work activities you are excited to try with your students, it’s important to keep everything organized! Whether you are just starting with word work or you are a seasoned veteran, here are some practical tips and ideas to help with organizing word work activities for the entire year.

planning makes perfect

It’s important to have a plan of action for your word work activities before the school year begins. Knowing what word work activities you want to have your students do before they come in on the first day will set you and your students up for year-long success.

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When August rolled around, I would feel that familiar twinge in my teacher brain reminding me that it was time to start thinking about what the new school year would look like. Reflecting on how the past school year went was really helpful in planning for the new year.

I am a fan of lists, so I would start out with a list of the word work activities I knew I wanted my students to have access to. Then, I would make a list of supplies I would need for each activity. I also liked to include any prep work that was needed so that I could add that to my summer to do list. This might include things like laminating, cutting or buying.

Planning my activities in this way really helped me feel prepared when it was time to put everything together. I also knew that by the time the school year started I had everything I needed ready to go. I don’t know about you but being organized and prepared at the beginning of the year makes that crazy time a little less stressful.

Prepare letter tiles for work work for the year

The Letter Tiles word work activity helps students practice spelling patterns. I found this to be especially good for the beginning of the year CVC word review. Since this was always one of the very first word work activities I introduced, it was always at the top of my list. And it was time well spent since we used letter tiles all year long. Having them ready and organized made it very easy to use.

Organize your letter tiles for each student with plastic baggies.

At the beginning of the year, I would make a letter tile set for each student in my class. I would print the consonants on blue card stock and the vowels on pink card stock to help students easily differentiate between the two.

I also made a larger letter tile set that I used for modeling. By attaching a small magnet to the back I was able to display my letter tiles on the front board for the entire class to see.

Once school starts, I asked students to keep their letter tile baggies inside their desks. This made it so easy for them to be ready to work without having to go get supplies from some other location.

buy smart

Every year it is inevitable that you will have to spend some of your hard earned money on school supplies for your class. Make your dollar stretch farther by making smart choices about the supplies and where you buy them.

Because word work is hands-on, chances are you will need some disposable supplies. One of my favorite teacher stores was my local Dollar Tree or discount store.

I would set a budget for myself and go in with a list of what I needed. You will be surprised at the selection of school supplies they have, but be sure to get in early before the back-to-school crowd clears them out. Some of my favorite dollar store finds include shaving cream, clip boards, stamp pads and bins for organizing.

Your students will love using shaving cream to write the targeted words for the week.

Also, don’t be afraid to put some supplies on your back-to-school list for your students. Ask your students to bring in a pack of index cards, a can of shaving cream, clothes pins, etc. to help build up the supplies you will need for your word work activities.

If you’ve been following this Word Work series, then you already know that shaving cream is a must-have word work supply for those fun word work activities. For this I liked to stock up with 5-10 cans of shaving cream to keep in my closet. When our supply dwindled down to 2 cans, I would write myself a note to grab some more. This way I never ran out.

Binders are your friend!

organize word work units in binders and keep everything at your fingertips

Binders, binders, binders. Nothing is more efficient for organizing lessons and activities than a good ol’ binder. My binder of choice is a 3 ring binder because it makes it so easy to grab what I need and put it back again.

Organizing word work activities is so easy with the help of a binder and some page protectors. Each binder is labeled on the cover to indicate what word family activities are included.

Organizing lessons inside each binder is easy to do before school starts. This will save you valuable time during the school year. If you don’t have the time to prep for the year, then I would suggest getting the first grading period done. This will get you through the busy back to school season with a little extra time before you need to prep the next set.

Inside I printed out a master of each lesson and activity and slid them into the page protectors. When it was time to teach I just grabbed what I needed. Everything from instructions to cards would be right there at my finger tips.

what to include . . .

I would print the first two pages of each lesson plan front to back. Then place it into a page protector and put it inside my word work binder.

Inside the page protector, I would include everything needed for the pattern including:

  • Phonics cards
  • Picture sort cards
  • word sort cards
  • Letter tiles

I would use the dividers to organize the lessons in sections within the binder. When I was ready to start a new lesson, I would simply pull the lesson out from the page protector. I would have all of the sample words and activity ideas at my fingertips.

Once we were done with that unit and assessment, everything would go right back in the binder for the next time.

bins and boxes

Hands-on word work can include a variety of small manipulatives. It’s important to keep these manipulatives organized so that they are ready to use. Depending on what you have, I have found that small bins and boxes are perfect.

find storage containers for word work manipulatives that make it easy to store and use

For example, a set of alphabet stamps and a stamp pad can be placed in a bin or bucket for students to grab. A set of magnetic letters fits well in a small, closable, box. My goal when organizing manipulatives was to make it as easy as possible to use by myself or the students.

I love these small, colorful boxes for storing all of the Word Work Sorting Activities. I could put all of the picture cards and letter cards inside and label them right on the box. It was so easy to grab a box for a whole class lesson or to add to a center.

Organizing word work doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. You can find so many varieties of bins and boxes. There are many different shapes, colors, and materials. The local dollar store was always my first stop, but I also found many on Amazon too! And don’t forget storage bags and containers that you can easily find at your local grocery store. Look for function over form and you just might be surprised where you find it!

You will thank yourself

Organizing word work activities before the start of the new school year will be such a time-saver for you. I remember how crazy and chaotic those first few weeks felt. Knowing I had my word work activities planned out, organized, and ready to go really helped my students get a jump start on word work activities at the very beginning of the year.

grab your word work today!

Ready to add some word work resources to your teacher toolbox? No problem! I’ve got everything you need for an entire year of skills based word work instruction and activities. You can find all of the ready to use resources in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Word Work Activities and Centers for the entire year

This bundle includes each of these resources. Everything you need for work work instruction and practice for the entire school year!

short vowels, blends and digraph word work activities
long vowel, CVCe, vowel pairs and vowel team word work activities
word work activities for r controlled vowels, dipthongs and more advanced phonics skills

Try it out for free!

I know that it can be hard to jump into a large unit or year long set of resources without seeing it. That’s why I have a free set of word work activities for you to try! In this free Engaging Word Work Activities for the digraph ‘ng’ you will find the same fun and engaging resources and activities that are available in all of these sets. This free set gives you the chance to see everything and try it out with your students too! Grab your free word work activities here!

free word work activities for the digraph ng

pin it & save it

Save these tips for organizing word work by pinning this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board. Then you can quickly come back when you need ideas for word work activities throughout the year!

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