words their way online activities

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Words Their Way Digital provides educators with a rich collection of resources to engage students in hands-on, interactive word study.

Words Their Way Digital is an online tool that provides educators with a way to engage students in interactive word study. Features include: automatically scored spelling inventories, 130+ interactive online sorts, 40+ printable game templates, and data reporting and oversight for grouping and assistance to monitor student progress. Together these features provide digital resources that afford teachers more time to focus on growing students' phonics, vocabulary, and spelling knowledge.

words their way online activities

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words their way online activities

Interactive Word Sorts

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Word their way games

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SA Sort 18 R-Influenced Vowel in 2 Syllables: er, ur, ir, ar

Tarheelstate Teacher

9 Activities for your Word Study Routine

I have a confession to make…Planning for word study is one of my superpowers. I like to think about it, I like to talk about it, I like to create activities to help students improve their word study and spelling abilities. You probably don’t want to hear about my dreams of gameboards at night, but I’m so glad my secret is out and that you are here to learn more about word study activities for upper elementary students! Today, I’ve got the ultimate list of word study activities that I use for a well-rounded Words Their Way word study program. If you use another program, you’ll still find ideas that you can incorporate here, including a free set of word study sorting posters. Let’s go!

words their way online activities

Note: This post contains affiliate links to the word study resources that I recommend. This means that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Read my full disclosure  here.

For my word study curriculum, I use the Words Their Way word sort books as my go-to for differentiated word lists and printable sorts. If you would like to see the Words Their Way Word Sort Books, you can find them here on Amazon.

As you check out the activities I use in my word study routine, think of this list as a buffet of activities you can choose from to fill any voids in your word study plans. Need more engagement, to add in the fun, or something to push the depths of students’ understanding? Think about what’s missing and see if any of these activities make sense to add in. As you read these, keep in mind that everything in my word study routine is differentiated with students grouped based on an assessment they take at the beginning of the year.


1) discovery word searches.

I introduce my students to their word study list with word searches . Students search through a word search that does not contain a word list. These word searches encourage students to “discover” or identify a common pattern being used among the words in the word search. When students discover the focus pattern(s) or concepts, they look for more words with that pattern and attune their minds to think about other words that could fit that pattern.

words their way online activities

This assignment is designed for use at the beginning of a word study rotation as a way to introduce students to their new word list. I LOVE this activity as an inquiry-based way to launch my word study lists! You may want to add this to your word study routine if your students need some fun and challenge or if they’ve spent years doing word sorts and need a new way to engage with their word study lists. It’s an easy activity to print and go and since it’s repeated at the start of each word study list, students get better and better at them! (I’ve got lots of tips and tricks for success with word study word searches in this blog post.)

Want to give word study word searches a test drive? You can click the button below for sample word searches for each of the 4 word study levels . (I recommend printing one and having a go at it yourself to see what kinds of thinking your brain does while trying to find words with similar patterns. Have fun!) The PDF will open in a new tab.


Oh boy! Word sorts can be so much fun—but they are also an important way to help students discover ideas about the sounds and patterns in words. Since my upper elementary students have experienced pattern-based word sorts in past years, I like to spice it up for them with a “You Choose” menu of word sorting activities. I include the following main sorts on their choice board:

word study word sort ideas.png

Pattern Sort

Sound and Pattern Sort—this sort gets more detailed than just a sound or pattern sort for sorts where words may contain the same patterns but make different sounds.

OOPS! Sort—Students create a sort for a partner where they’ve misplaced one word in each column.

Parts of Speech Sort

“I Can Read the Word” Sort

Number of Syllables Sort

Memory Match—This is “sort of” a sorting activity; students play Memory/Match and record matches or pairs of words that have the same sound, pattern, or other connection.

Word Meaning Sort—Students sort their words into categories based on meaning. They can even create a concept map or web showing how the words are related when it works for the given sort!

While some word lists will work better for these sorts than others (for example, it wouldn’t be a great use of time to complete a syllables sort with a word list where all words contain the same number of syllables), it is a nice option to let students choose their activity. In addition, you may modify the You Choose boards for different groups based on their level and what they need to focus on most. An “I Can Read the Word” sort may be very beneficial for students at the Within Word Pattern level, but unnecessary for students at the Derivational Relations level.

If you are interested in adding these sorts to your word study routine, I’ll send the “You Choose” word sort boards along with direction posters for each type of sort to your inbox. Just subscribe below!

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Use these posters to teach your students different ways to sort their words. You'll also get a word sort choice board, directions for "How to Quiz Yourself," and more.

You'll be joining the Tarheelstate Teacher email community for 3rd-5th grade teachers and receive tons of other tips and perks along the way! Just check your inbox!

We take your privacy seriously! You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time and you can review our  privacy policy  for additional information.

I'll be sending you an email right away with your WORD SORT POSTERS.

If you do not see an email from Tarheelstate Teacher in the next few minutes, check your spam folder, then email me at [email protected] ! 



Word study notebooks are a way to encourage students to think deeply about the words on their word lists. I ask questions like: What do you notice about the way these words are spelled? What do you notice about the sounds in these words? What do you notice about the way the beginning/ending changed the meaning of the word? How did the spelling change when (something) was added? How did the spelling change when the tense changed? etc.

words their way online activities

In a recent re-reading of Words Their Way (6th Edition), Bear (et al) recommended that students have a word study notebook to house their thinking about their word lists . They also included a list of activities that could be used like a menu of choices to prompt students to think more deeply about their words. But, after years of struggling to utilize a “catch all” word study notebook well, I finally created word study notebooks for Within Word Pattern , Syllables and Affixes , and Derivational Relations Spellers . With thoughtful activities for each sort, these word study notebooks help students engage with the complexities of their word lists.

You can try free samples of the word study notebooks for each level by clicking the buttons below. (A PDF will open in a new tab).


My students meet with me in small groups based on their developmental level. I try to meet with my two emerging spellers groups twice during their word study cycle, while my other groups meet once. During our time together, we may go over any of the activities listed here. I use this time to give my students a boost with their word searches (if needed), ensure that students understand how to complete their word study notebook activities , and have students play a round of the independent or partner game so that they know how to play when it comes up in their schedule.


(If you cringe at the word “games” for your classroom, let’s call these SUPER FUN, ENGAGING activities 💕!) I mix and match partner games and independent games and activities in my students’ routine. Depending on where we are in the year, my students may play games during their meeting with me, during a whole-group game day, or as part of their word study schedule. Check out different ways to incorporate them in your word study block here .

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I’ve created board games, games with spinners, picture board activities, card games, and more to help students practice and reinforce the concepts meant to be taught by their word study lists.

If you’re thinking students will just goof off during game play, have no fear! I include a word study-focused recording sheet that helps hold students accountable, reinforces the concepts taught in the games, and allows me to check to see if students have any misconceptions I need to address individually or during our next meeting. This accountability along with a strong focus on teaching my students the organization, routines, and procedures of using word study games allows games to be a fun part of our routine!


In Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check (LSCW✓), students do exactly what it sounds like. They take their word lists (from their word sort slips), place them in an upside down pile in front of themselves, flip over the first word, and

Look at the word

Say the word

Cover the word (or flip it over)

Write the word down

Check it by looking at the word slip and comparing.

Then, students give themselves a check beside of the word if it is spelled correctly and record the correct spelling for any misspelled words right beside of their original try. In the word sorting activities download, I’ve included directions for how students can quiz themselves with LSCW✓.


I include a day that I call “writer’s notebook day” in my students’ word study cycle. (A writer’s notebook is simply a composition notebook that students use during our writer’s workshop to free write, work on drafts, etc.) During this activity, students go through a page or two of an entry in their writer’s notebook to look for misspelled words. Students can write directly on their writing sample (circling misspelled words and writing the correct spelling above it) or use a sticky note to jot down the correct spellings and attach it to the page.

Writer’s notebook day is important for helping my students make the connection from word study concepts to improved spelling in writing. This activity can be especially beneficial if you have time to analyze common patterns that students are misspelling or want data on the transfer of "word study" to authentic spelling during writing.


Building words is a beneficial activity for some students. In this activity, students take a word from their word slips, then

say the word,

build the word with letter tiles,

do a “Pencil-Touch check”—Students touch each letter on the slip and each letter tile back and forth with their pencil to check their spelling,

record the word they built in their word study notebooks.

You can modify this activity to make it a bit more challenging by having students flip over or cover the word before they build it.


To check students’ progress on learning to spell the words from their word list, you can implement a “Hear it/Sort it and Spell it” assessment. (I formerly called this a “blind” assessment, but I have updated the language for sensitivity and to more clearly describe what students do. This could also be called a buddy check or buddy quiz.)

Ideally, the teacher is able to call out words to students on their quiz day, but often times, it’s easier to set students up with a buddy from a different group who will read their word list to them.


words their way online activities

👉 We know that we have a wide range of spelling abilities in our upper elementary classrooms and that students are not on the same level in their word study and spelling development.

💜 A differentiated program helps students fill in the gaps in their learning of phonics, spelling, and how words work. Differentiated spelling routines put spelling success within students’ zone of proximal development.

👉 While spelling is often a minimalized instructional piece in upper elementary classrooms, students’ spelling abilities can be one of the most stigmatizing factors in their academic performance. Students who have difficulty spelling well may resist writing during your writer’s workshop or other content-area writing activities.

💜 The idea that all students are working to understand words better and become better spellers normalizes not knowing how to spell all words—no matter what level students start from.

How long does it take to make a difference in our students’ attitudes and abilities toward spelling?

Can you believe that a word study routine of 15-20 minutes 3-5 times a week can positively affect your students it’s true.

If you want to see the word study schedules that worked in my classroom and made a difference in my students’ spelling abilities, click here to make your own copy of my sample word study schedules —perhaps you’ll see why word study quickly became one of my teacher obsessions!



9 activities for words their way upper elementary.png

This Reading Mama

Using Words Their Way to Teach Spelling

By thisreadingmama 11 Comments

Using Words Their Way to Teach Spelling | This Reading Mama

*This post contains affiliate links.

I was given the newest versions of these books by Words Their Way , but have used their products for over ten years to teach spelling. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am often asked by readers which level of the Words Their Way supplement word sorting book they should buy to teach spelling. So today, I’m diving into each of the Words Their Way supplement books to help you make an educated guess for your own spellers at home or in your classroom.

A Developmentally Appropriate Way to Teach Spelling

First, let me start by explaining that Words Their Way takes a developmental approach to spelling. In other words, the books are not labeled primarily by grade level, but by the characteristics of your child’s spellings and misspellings. In each stage, I will list a few characteristics of spellers and the kinds of word sorts you can find inside the each book.

A Hands-On Way to Teach Spelling

Secondly, the activities inside these books are mainly picture and word sorts, providing kids hands-on opportunities to learn and interact with sounds and words. The picture sorts focus on the sounds kids hear in words, such as beginning sounds in words. The word sorts focus on the patterns different words share within them, like comparing words with the short a pattern to words with the long a pattern.

Emergent Spellers

Emergent spellers are anywhere between birth and age 6. Most children that fit in this age have not had any formal lessons on spelling or phonics. They may have observed parents or older siblings as writers and mimic what they see. Children in this age may do some pretend writing.

Some researchers call this the pre-alphabetic or pre-phonetic stage because most emergent spellers do not understand how letters and their sounds help them spell words, especially in the beginning of the stage (from Words Their Way ).

Letter and Picture Sorts for Emergent Spellers

In the Letter and Picture Sorts for Emergent Spellers book, you will find lots of pre-reader activities, such as:

Letter Name-Alphabetic Spellers

Letter Name-Alphabetic Spellers range from the time they begin formal instruction in phonics until about the second grade (between 5 and 8 years old). Early in this stage, as kids are taught their letter names, they begin to use the names of the letters to help them spell words. For example, they may associate W with the /d/ sound because the name double u starts with /d/.

Spellers in this stage typically begin spelling with only consonant sounds because they are more prominent or easier to “feel” in the mouth as the child says the word aloud (from Words Their Way Pre-K/K ). As they progress through the stage, they begin to hear more letter sounds (phonemes) in words, including vowel sounds. Spellers in this stage might also be called semi-phonetic or partial alphabetic because they only represent some of the sounds in words as they write (from Words Their Way Pre-K and Words Their Way ).

Word Sorts for Letter Name-Alphabetic Spellers

Within Word Pattern Spellers

Spellers in the Within Word Pattern stage begin to “move away from the linear, sound-by-sound approach of the letter name-alphabetic spellers and being to include patterns or chunks of letter sequences” (Bear, et al. 2012).

The typical age of a child in this stage is 7 to 10 years old, starting approximately at the end of first grade and ending towards the end of third grade or beginning of fourth grade. In some cases, especially for struggling readers, spellers remain in this stage through middle school. Within Word Pattern Spellers begin to correctly spell vowel patterns within one-syllable words, first starting with short vowels and then moving onto long vowels and even some ambiguous vowels.

Word Sorts for Within Word Pattern Spellers

Syllables and Affixes Spellers

Syllables and Affixes Spellers are typically ages 9 to 14 years and range from the upper elementary grades to middle school. This is the stage where spellers move from spelling patterns in one-syllable words to spelling patterns in multisyllabic words. This is also the stage where students begin to study word meanings, as they study prefixes and suffixes such as un – or pre -.

These spellers can spell most one-syllable short, long, and ambiguous words correctly, but confuse spellings where the syllables meet (such as when to double a letter before adding – ing  or – ed ) and some prefixes and suffixes (such as PER- for pre – or –SION for – tion ). Info from Words Their Way .

Word Sorts for Syllables and Affixes Spellers

In the Syllables and Affixes Spellers book, are:

Derivational Relations Spellers

Derivational Relations Spellers begin to connect spelling to meaning, as they focus on taking base words and deriving other words from that base word (for example, define to definition ). Spellers can enter this stage as early as late elementary school, but most spellers in this stage are in middle school, high school, or adults. “The logic inherent in this lifelong stage can be summed up as follows: Words that are related in meaning are often related in spelling as well, despite changes in sound.” (from Words Their Way )

Word Sorts for Derivational Relations Spellers

words their way online activities

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March 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Hi Becky, thanks so much for your site- so many helpful tips & resources! Also I was excited to find your spelling e-book, which I’m currently reading. This is my first year homeschooling my boys (first grade & sixth grade) and I am still trying to figure out spelling…I’m generally a good speller, so I’ve never thought so much about it before!

I like the idea of word study (especially for my first grader) and have been poring over your recommendations, as well as The Measured Mom’s site. This is new to me, but it makes sense! I’m just trying to figure out how to do it. 🙂

I do have a question though: you advise to get the appropriate word sort book, and that the main book isn’t absolutely essential, however on The Measured Mom I noticed she does all her sorts from lists in the main text…do you think it matters which way I do it? Will I get enough guidance from the word sort books to know how to implement it? I like the idea of having the sorts more laid out, “ready to go”- but don’t want to miss out on crucial instructions. I haven’t been able to find much of a preview online, so it’s hard for me to really get a feel for what’s in each book. Any thoughts would be appreciated! Thank you.

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March 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm

The supplemental books contain more of your “ready to go” sorts while the main book does provide amazing lists in the appendix. The main book has a lot of research and foundational information for word study {It reads more like a textbook}, but it also has game ideas that you can make in it. The newer edition (which I just received) is even better than the older edition because there’s a CD-rom with a toolkit, with even more things.

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November 11, 2014 at 11:01 am

Hi Becky! I Love your website and refer to it often as I am working as a Reading Specialist this year. I was wondering what readers do you recommend using with word sort instruction. I wish there were like word sort stories somewhere that reinforce the spelling concepts.

November 11, 2014 at 11:57 am

The best ones I’ve found are the BOB Books for doing the word hunts and word patterns. Other than that, we just look through what we’re reading.

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November 6, 2015 at 10:39 am

The first time I knew about Words their Way way here in your website. After reading your series about word study I decided to try it with my struggling reader. We are actually using the yellow book and absolutely love it. My son has improved a lot in spelling and reading as well. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us! I have some questions. Can I use Words Their Way as our stand alone spelling curriculum? Or I need to suplement it with another spelling program? If so, could you recommend a program or workbook with a similar approach as Words Their Way? Elizabeth

November 9, 2015 at 5:36 am

That’s GREAT to hear! 🙂

You can use WTW as a stand-alone, but they suggest adding games or other activities to mix it up a bit, as doing word sorts every day might become a bit redundant. You might search on my blog, TpT, or The Measured Mom’s blog for free games that feature the phonics skill you are learning. Or it could be a simple as asking your son to create a game with the words to play together.

Look in the front of the book you have for other word study routines that you can use throughout the week, too.

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July 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Hi Becky! I also started using Words Their Way as my stand alone spelling for my 5 year old son because of your site! He can easily read digraph and blends and can do picture sorts with them as well. Where I am having trouble is having him be able to tell me what the blends and digraphs are blindly and then complete the assessment. If I provide the common blends and digraphs chart he has no problems. I am going to start doing more of the games to review. My question is…Do I move forward onto the next portion of the Alphabetic and Letter name spellers (red book) while continuing to review with blend and digraph blends? Or wait until he can spell them on his own before moving on? I’d really appreciate your advice!

July 11, 2016 at 7:05 am

The next book will review blends and digraphs within short vowel words, so I’d move on. I would throw in some extra review here and there with the picture sorts and maybe extra games, like these–> https://thisreadingmama.com/50-games-blends-digraphs/ Hope that helps!

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February 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm

I have a question similar to another commenter’s–the order of the sorts are different in the original/main WTW book than they are the colored books, and I’m wondering if you have any knowledge as to why or which is the preferred order for most kids. Thanks! 🙂

February 8, 2018 at 7:05 am

I haven’t looked at the colored books in a long time, but I’ve always used the original/main books. Either way, I think it would be fine though. I’ve worked with WTW (and personally know one of the authors) for too long to think they’d be arbitrary about the order in the colored books. Hope that helps!

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July 5, 2019 at 1:35 pm

I am a homeschooler, former ESL teacher in public school. I’ve come full circle with my youngest child back to this method being ideal at least for him as he needs a sense of exploration and ownership to enjoy learning and highly resists direct instruction, at least in skill based subjects. He at the least has a strong aversion to writing, but possible dysgraphia as well. I’m excited about getting back to word sorts with a deeper understanding of it, hopefully, that will give me confidence to implement it. My question is that I’m thinking of purchasing the latest version of Words Their Way coming out, but have some questions first about it. Does it go into depth about the patterns rules at each stage? I plan to let him try to come to them on his own, but want to be sure that I have the understanding necessary to help him and help him remember. For example, does it explain the Greek and Latin elements in the derivational stage? In other words, I feel like I have a understanding of the approach and teaching strategy, but I am not 100% confident that there are no gaps in my knowledge. So it will be worth it for me if it enhances both but perhaps not if it’s pure pedagogy assuming knowledge without explanation. And if not, do you know of a source (whether article website or book) for teachers that goes in depth about spelling rules patterns that will give confidence in this area?

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words their way online activities

Words Their Way : The Ultimate How To Guide

The Ultimate How To Guide to Words Their Way

Around here we are big fans of Words Their Way, an assessment-based, differentiated, leveled approach to spelling and word work.

Here's a little background on our experience with the Words Their Way program:

Hopefully this post will give you some insight and tips if you're looking to learn how to implement and organize Words Their Way in your classroom.

DISCLAIMER: At this time, we no longer use Words Their Way. We now use Word Play , a word study program that incorporates differentiated word sorting and other elements like chunk spelling. Some of those activities and games would make great companion resources to Words Their Way .

But we will always keep this post available to you as a resource!


Click here to try a 1 Week Free Sample of Word Play Phonics!

A Teacher's Guide to Words Their Way

To begin using Words Their Way, we recommend that you gather some supplies.

A Teacher's Guide to Words Their Way

The first step in implementing Words Their way is giving the class a (rather lengthy) spelling test. We use the Primary Spelling Inventory (PSI) for 2nd grade. On the Pearson website there are examples of the different tests and run down on scoring them.

Words Their Way Spelling Test Form

Grading the assessment can be tedious, but it's so great to see all the data.  Each of the words is broken down into key components—beginning sounds, vowel sounds, suffixes, etc. You don’t analyze every part of every word, so you need the feature guide to show you what you’re looking for. You put the student’s test in front of you and start checking off what was written correctly.  We made a form for the students to write their answers on. This form allows us to do a little record keeping right on their forms.

Words Their Way Spelling Inventory Primary

The feature guide in the book is horizontal but we found it easier to grade quickly with a vertical page so we made our own vertical form . We use the same page all year so it is easy to track student growth. Tip: We use a different color pen each time we give the assessment and color the key at the top of the page accordingly.

Words Their Way Spelling Inventory Primary

After checking each word, total the number of checks in each column . The different columns represent different levels of spelling mastery. Each feature is checked in 7 different words. If a student correctly writes the feature (for example, short vowel sounds) 6 or 7 times you know it has been mastered. If a child gets 5 or fewer correct, that’s considered the student’s instructional level. This is the level the child will benefit most from practicing.

Want our spelling test sheet and vertical spelling inventory?

Click here to get our FREE Words Their Way Spelling Inventory & Resources.

A Teacher's Guide to Words Their Way

Making Groups

After testing your students, the next step is to organize them for word study.

The simplest thing is to grab a piece of paper and list the levels down one side. Then look through the assessments and see who fits each category. I write the number they got correct in that category on top of their name.

Here's an example:

Words Their Way Organization Groups

Keep in mind that this isn't an exact science!   In a Words Their Way workshop I once heard, “Do what you can!” That's the key. If you can manage 8 different groups with weekly reassessments, go for it. But if you are only ready for 2 groups with word sorts every other week, that's okay too. Make it work for you!   What is important is that you're getting at least some differentiation.

I decided I could handle 5 groups. I made a little notebook to keep track of the groups. There is a half-sheet form for each week. I cut down a post-it note for each group and added the kids' names. (Tip: Using post-it notes makes it easy to transfer the information to the new sheet each week.) Then I list the sort for each week.

Words Their Way Activities Organization Planning Book

Want to our group planning pages?  Click here to get our FREE Words Their Way Resources.

Materials Prep

Now to deal with the actual sorts. This is the make-it or break-it point when it comes to using Words Their Way. If you can handle this circus, the rest is easy.

Words Their Way Word Sorts Organization

At Emily's school, they ordered a ton of copies of each sort and she had a filing cabinet full of sorts at her disposal whenever she needed them.  In case you aren't that lucky, here's a method that worked for me .

I got some 6 pocket folders from Really Good Stuff, similar to these . I numbered each folder 1-6 and then used a post-it to label the pockets inside with the group level and number of kids. Each folder holds one week's worth of sorts and each group has its own pocket in that week's folder.

The next step took me awhile, but now that it's done I'll never have to do it again! I went through the different sort books (for 2nd grade that's Letter-Name Alphabetic, Within Word Patterns, Syllable & Affixes) and copied each sort on yellow paper . I did them double sided to fit in one binder.

Words Their Way Spelling Word Sorts Organization

Now, every 6 weeks or so, I take my folders, binder, and record notebook to the work room. I figure out what each group needs for the next 6 weeks and put the copies in the correct pocket. This is when having the master in yellow comes in handy- I never mix it with the copies!

I can copy and organize 6 weeks worth of sorts in less than 30 minutes !

The only other supplies you need are a spiral bound notebook for each student to do their daily sorting, a zipper pocket for each student to hold the weekly sort (we reuse these for a couple of years until they are too beat up), and highlighters for introducing the sorts on Day 1.

A Teacher's Guide to Words Their Way

With Words Their Way, the focus of the program is sorting the words. It's a great way for children to learn but it can be tedious to do it day after day. The book has lots of different sort suggestions and I've tried most of them.

Over the years, my weekly system has evolved, but this is how it looks most recently.

Words Their Way Organization Weekly Word Sort Routine

On Fridays, I give each child their sort.  They cut the words apart and label the back with initials (so simple, but so handy when you find random words on the floor!), and store the cards in a little zipper pocket. ( Tip: We share an even easier way to do this in another post! )

While they're working, I call each group back to the table one at a time. We discuss the sort and they highlight an exemplar for each category. That helps them to remember what features they're sorting for.

I like to have them start sorting the words while they're still at the table.  If it's an easy sort or an advanced group, I might only need to see them sort a few words before I know they've “got it.”  If it's a trickier sort or a struggling group, I may want them to finish the entire sort with me right then so I can offer guidance and address questions.  Depends on the group and it depends on how much time I have at the moment!

Words Their Way Word Sorts Routines

Since starting the Daily 5 a few years ago, word sorts are the first thing my students do when they go to the Work on Words station.

Sorting Routine

On Monday, they sort and write. Tuesday is the favorite: speed sort. I got some sand timers for them to use for speed sorting. Wednesday they sort and graph. Thursday they sort and glue the words into their notebooks. And on Friday we start with the new sort. They can do each sort in less than 5 minutes.

Words Their Way Word Sorts Activities

There is no one right way to do this. Find what works for you!

I like to use visual sort instructions to remind the class how to do each type of sort.

Words Their Way Word Sort Activities

Small Group Lessons

Now that I'm doing Daily 5 , I have much more free time for working with small groups (Hooray!!).  If I can't meet with a group on Friday, I use one of my Daily 5 rotations on Monday to catch them up.  I also try to meet with every group once during the week to play a game that relates to their sorts. We have mentioned some of these in previous posts. We have some phonics games in our store that you can use with Words Their Way (but were designed to correlate with our Word Play Phonics curriculum .)

Because I don't use Words Their Way for spelling words, I don't do a “spelling test” of their sorts every week though it would be easy to do a quick 4-6 word check of a few words with each group at the end of the week.

However, I do repeat the PSI assessment (mentioned at the beginning of this post) every quarter. After assessments I will rearrange the groups as necessary.  The Words Their Way level sort books provide periodic assessments that I have great intentions of using, but don't always (okay, very rarely) get time to use.  I've found they provide helpful, but not crucial information, so don't beat yourself up if you can't fit them in to your schedule.  Doing the PSI a few times a year is really a good measure of where my kids are and they don't typically change so much in a quarter that you need weekly assessments.

Words Their Way is so thorough in scope and sequence that most of my students progress from one sort to the next in order.   Occasionally (especially with my ELL students), there will be a big jump in acquired skills, but most students will go step-by-step.  The PSI assessments are still important, though, so you can make sure they are actually progressing and that students are still working at their instructional levels.

A Teacher's Guide to Words Their Way

It sounds like a lot to take on, but once you establish your organized system, the whole thing will run like a well-oiled machine. And the growth you see in your students will be worth all the hassle of setting it up.

In the years I've been diligent with the program, my kids were much more confident in their understanding of spelling patterns. In the years when I've let it slide, I may have some really good natural spellers, but they don't understand why words follow certain patterns.

If we want to shape good little spellers, it just makes sense to teach them how to think about words.

Click here to get our FREE Words Their Way Resources.

The Ultimate How To Guide to Words Their Way

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This file has everything you need to start using Words Their Way word study activities for your students' homework. You will be able to use this file to create differentiated packets to meet all of your students' spelling needs. You will be able to use a hybrid approach of Words Their Way sorting activities and traditional spelling activities. The traditional activities include a wide range of meaningful spelling activities that will help reinforce spelling and writing skills. You will also be able to meet the needs of English Language Learners, classified students, gifted and talented students, and everyone in between, by simply using the different activities to create differentiated homework packets.

Here's what is included in this file:

Part 1: Words Their Way Word Sorting Activities

*A How To Guide for Spellers - Step-by-step directions in kid-friendly language for each type of sort

*A Helpful Guide for Parents - Directions written for parents to bridge the connection between home and school

• Word Study Bingo-2 different options

*Sort and Record worksheets

*Buddy Sort worksheets

*Word Hunt worksheets

*Writing Sort/Blind Sort worksheet

Because each sort has a different number of categories, each activity has options for 2, 3, 4, or 5 categories.

Update: Now includes directions for students to be able to use the sorting templates in class.

Part 2: Traditional Spelling Activities

*Rainbow Words

*3 Times Each

*Word Search

*Juicy Sentences


*Synonym & Antonym Detective

*Dictionary Detective

*Letter Writing

*Comic Strip

*Picture Prompt

• Directions for each activity to be used as a center are now included.

Please note that this product does not include spelling lists. Rather, this resource is designed as a supplement to Words Their Way. These activities can be used with any spelling list.


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Words Their Way File Folder Games & Printable Activities *BUNDLE*

Words Their Way Word Study File Folder Games

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Dinosaur ABC: Learning Games 4+

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Play games, learn phonics, and spell words! Want to give your child a head start with their reading skills — without boring repetition of word pronunciations? Looking for an engaging way to introduce your child to the world of putting letters together to spell words? Dinosaur ABC 2 integrates fun games into step-by-step phonics lessons to help children have fun learning word sounds and mastering CVC word spelling skills with ease! Step-By-Step Phonics Learning Method CVC words are consonant-vowel-consonant words, such as cat, pig, and bug. We present word spelling to children in an orderly, fun, and visual way. The interactive games make learning words both fun and easy, which will help children to start reading. Fun Spelling Games — Learn Through Play From combining letters to making and spelling words, we've designed fun and entertaining games for each step-by-step spelling skill. Kids will experience combining letter bricks, magic word machines, disappearing mystery pictures, and more. With Dinosaur ABC 2, children can have fun playing games and easily master phonics at the same time! 15 Fun Stories to Stimulate Reading Interest Studying and practical application of what you learn should be creative, not boring! And when children are introduced to learning in a fun way, this will help them in school. For this reason, we designed interesting short stories for each word family. Through the combination of learned words and stories, children can deepen their understanding and memory of the CVC words. This sense of achievement helps to stimulate their interest in reading. Generous Rewards to Build Your Own Amusement Park Each time they complete a level, children will receive star rewards to build their own amusement park, complete with roller coasters, carousels, Ferris wheels, and more. These instant rewards increase motivation and make your child’s learning journey full of fun! Features • Step-by-step phonics learning method, easy to master phonics • Creative spelling games, learn through play • 15 fun stories to stimulate reading interest • Learn 45 CVC words help introduce spelling skills • Use stars to build amusement park with roller coaster, pirate ship, carousel, circus, & more • Works offline without internet connection • No third-party advertisements About Yateland Yateland crafts apps with educational value, inspiring preschoolers across the globe to learn through play! With each app we make, we are guided by our motto: "Apps children love and parents trust." Learn more about Yateland and our apps at https://yateland.com. Privacy Policy Yateland is committed to protecting users' privacy. If you would like to know more about how we deal with these matters, please read our full privacy policy at https://yateland.com/privacy. Terms of Use: https://yateland.com/terms


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Why China and Japan are praying the US won’t default

Laura He

As the clock ticks down toward an unprecedented US debt default, the world’s second- and third-biggest economies are watching in fear.

China and Japan are the largest foreign investors in American government debt. Together they own $2 trillion — more than a quarter — of the $7.6 trillion in US Treasury securities held by foreign countries.

Beijing started to ramp up buying of US Treasuries in 2000, when the United States effectively endorsed China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, triggering an export boom. That generated vast amounts of dollars for China and it needed a safe place to stash them.

US Treasury bonds are widely regarded as one of the safest investments on Earth, and China’s holdings of US government debt ballooned from $101 billion to peak at $1.3 trillion in 2013.

China was the largest foreign creditor to the United States for more than a decade. But an escalation of tensions with the Trump administration in 2019 saw Beijing pare back its holdings, and Japan surpassed China as the top creditor that year.

Tokyo now holds $1.1 trillion, to China’s $870 billion, and that heavy exposure means both countries are vulnerable to a potential crash in the value of US Treasuries if the doomsday scenario for Washington were to unfold.

The US Treasury building in Washington, DC, US, on Monday, March 13, 2023.

America's borrowing is its superpower. A default would tarnish that

“Japan and China’s large Treasury holdings could hurt them if the value of Treasuries plummets,” said Josh Lipsky and Phillip Meng, analysts from the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center.

The falling value of Treasuries would lead to a drop in Japan and China’s foreign reserves. That means they would have less money available to pay for essential imports, service their own foreign debts, or prop up their national currencies.

Nevertheless, the “real risk” comes from the global economic fallout and likely US recession that could follow from a default, they said.

“That is a serious concern for all countries but poses a particular risk to China’s fragile economic recovery,” Lipsky and Meng said.

After an initial burst in activity following the abrupt lifting of pandemic restrictions late last year, China’s economy is now sputtering as consumption, investments, and industrial output all show signs of slowing. Deflationary pressure has worsened as consumer prices barely moved during the past few months. Another major concern is the soaring unemployment rate for young people, which hit a record level of 20.4% in April.

Japan’s economy, meanwhile, is just showing signs of emerging from stagnation and deflation , which have haunted the country for decades.

Devastating impact

Even if the US government runs out of money and extraordinary measures to pay all its bills — a scenario that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said could happen as early as June 1 — the likelihood of a US default may still be low.

Some US lawmakers have proposed prioritizing the payment of interest on bonds to the biggest bondholders.

This would be done at the expense of other obligations, such as payment of government pensions and salaries to government employees, but would stave off major debt defaults to the likes of Japan and China, said Alex Capri, senior lecturer at NUS Business School.

A shop owner shows grilled meat during a barbecue festival on April 29, 2023 in Zibo, Shandong Province of China. The city Zibo became a tourism hot spot after videos of its barbecue went viral online.

A barbecue frenzy is gripping China. Can street food revive the economy?

And without a clear alternative, in response to rising market volatility investors could swap shorter term bonds for longer term debt. That could benefit China and Japan, because their holdings are concentrated in longer-term US Treasuries, according to Lipsky and Meng from the Atlantic Council.

That said, broader financial contagion and economic recession are a much bigger threat.

“A debt default in the US would mean a fall in US Treasury prices, a rise in interest rates, a fall in the value of the dollar, and increased volatility,” said Marcus Noland, executive vice president and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“It would also likely be accompanied by a fall in the US stock market, increased stress on the US banking sector, and increased stress on the real estate sector.”

That could lead the interconnected global economy and financial markets to stumble, too.

China and Japan are dependent on the world’s biggest economy to support companies and jobs at home. The export sector is especially crucial to China, as other pillars of the economy — such as real estate — have faltered. Exports generate a fifth of China’s GDP and provide jobs for around 180 million people.

Despite rising geopolitical tension, the United States remains China’s single largest trading partner. It’s also the second largest for Japan. In 2022, US-China trade hit a record high of $691 billion. Japan’s exports to America increased by 10% in 2022.

“As the US economy slowed, the impact would be transmitted through trade, depressing Chinese exports to the US, for example, and contributing to a global slowdown,” said Noland.

Deep concerns

Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda expressed concerns last Friday, warning that a US debt default would cause turmoil in various markets and have serious consequences for the global economy.

“The Bank of Japan will strive to maintain market stability based on its pledge to respond flexibly with an eye on economic, price and financial developments,” he told parliament, according to Reuters .

People pass an electronic board showing the closing numbers on the Tokyo Stock Exchange along a street in Tokyo on May 22, 2023.

Japan's long-suffering stock market is back. This boom may have 'staying power'

Beijing, so far, has been relatively quiet on the matter. The foreign ministry commented Tuesday that it hopes the United States will “adopt responsible fiscal and monetary policies” and “refrain from passing on risks” to the world.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua published a column earlier this month, highlighting the “symbiotic relationship” the countries have in the US bond market.

“If the United States defaults on its debt, it will not only discredit the United States, but also bring real financial losses to China,” it said.

There’s nothing much Tokyo or Beijing can do, other than wait and hope for the best.

Hastily dumping US debt would be “self-defeating,” Capri said, as it would significantly drive up the value of the Japanese yen or the Chinese yuan against the dollar, causing the cost of their exports to “go through the roof.”

Longer-term benefits?

In the longer term, some analysts say a potential US default could push China to accelerate its drive to create a global financial system that is less dependent on the dollar.

The Chinese government has already struck a series of deals with Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and France to increase the use of yuan in international trade and investment. A Russian lawmaker said last year the BRICS countries, namely China, Russia, India, Brazil, and South Africa, are exploring the creation of a common currency for cross-border trade.

“This will certainly serve as a catalyst for China to continue to push the internationalization of the yuan, and for Beijing to double down on its efforts to bring its trading partners into the newly announced ‘BRICs Currency’ initiative,” Capri said.

However, China faces some serious obstacles, such as controls it applies to how much money can flow in and out of its economy. Analysts say Beijing has shown little willingness to fully integrate with global financial markets.

“A serious push for de-dollarization would see … much more volatile yuan trading,” said Derek Scissors, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Recent data from international payments system SWIFT showed that the yuan’s share of global trade financing was 4.5% in March, while the dollar accounted for 83.7%.

“There is still a long way to go before a credible alternative to the US dollar can emerge,” Lipsky and Meng said.

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