Words Their Way

We use the Words Their Way program for spelling in addition to the High Frequency Words that will be coming home.  This program was developed to enable to students to learn at individual developmental stages of learning. Students will be working with groups and partners at the same stage of word development knowledge.  Groups are flexible, start at different stages according to student needs and can be modified easily to suit individual learning styles. Students will bring home word cards (words will need to be cut out the first night) to sort each week. Students should sort their words according to spelling or sound patterns as appropriate to the particular group of words. They will have sorted words at school that day and should be able to teach the sort to their families.

Students will be assessed regularly on their words. However, there is no need to try to have students memorize words. If they are practicing sorts and using high frequency words consistently at school and at home, the assessment should give us an accurate picture of whether or not they are ready to move on to more challenging words.

Because the Words Their Way program is based on meeting the developmental needs of each child we will be working on a very flexible schedule.  Students often need a little more time with a group of words, or may master the spelling rule faster than expected; therefore we may not always start a new group of words on a Monday and finish with them on a Friday.  Students will get new words when I feel like they are ready to move on, so you may see new words come home on any day of the week and units may last varied amounts of time.  I would like students to practice their words at home in some form or another each night Monday through Thursday.  How students practice is up to the individual, however, it is my expectation that always on the first night with new words students will cut them out and teach their families the sort so that you can be more involved in what we are learning at school.  I have provided two baggies that need to stay at home to help keep up with the home set of word cards.  Please help your child remember to move the previous week’s words into the ‘old words’ baggy to avoid confusion with which words she should be working with currently.  I will periodically assign homework for which students will need these old words for review.

This is ‘starter kit’ to help you with some of the vocabulary that you might come across in our Word Study program.  Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you come across any words or phrases that I have not included.

Word Sorts: We will be working with groups of words in many different ways in order to help students develop a deeper understanding of how our language is put together.  Here are some sorts/activities that your student will be doing weekly in class.  These are good activities for your child to do at home to practice words for homework.

Brainstorm/Word Hunt.  This activity helps build the connection between spelling words and reading words.  It also helps students understand that big idea of this group of words is the pattern or concept being featured in the sort, not just memorizing the words on the list.  In a word hunt students search through text (Library book, baggy book, newspaper, magazines, etc) for words that are an additional example of the sound, pattern or meaning unit they are studying.  Brainstorming is adding words to the list that a student comes up with on their own.  Brainstorming and Word Hunting go hand in hand because often finding a new word to add makes us think of another one that is similar

Blind Sort -have someone call the words out to you.  When you have spelled the word correctly, place it under sort heading under which it belongs.  It is kind of like a spelling test.  To make it a little harder, students can write the words instead of spelling them verbally.

Speed Sort- Race the clock or race a buddy to see how fast you can correctly sort the words.  Double check each other to make sure you have sorted the words correctly!


Vowel- the letters a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y

Consonant- all the other letters that are not vowels

Long Vowel Sound- when the vowel ‘says it’s name’

Short Vowel Sound- the other sound a vowel usually makes (as in the words cat, egg, igloo, box, and bug).

A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound.  There are more phonemes than letters in the alphabet, but not all letters in the alphabet have their own phoneme.  A phoneme, or the sound that a letter is representing is represented by putting it inside // marks.  For example:

-The letter ‘c’ does not have it’s own phoneme.  The letter c represents the phoneme, or sound /s/ or /k/. In other words the letter c makes either the sound of the letter s or the letter k.

Digraphs-Some phonemes have more than one letter.  When two letters together make only one sound it is called a Digraph.  For example, the ‘ph’ at the end of the word digraph are a digraph.  The letters ph stand for the sound /f/.  Other examples are the letters th (as in thin), sh (as in shine, or fish), ch (as in chicken or lunch), wh (as in when) and ph (as in phone), ck (truck). 

Blends- a consonant blend is when a group of two or three consonants together still keep their individual sounds when pronounced.  The word blend has two blends: bl and nd.  Each of the letter sounds can be heard, but they are tightly bound together and not as easily separated into individual phonemes.

Dipthongs- vowel combinations that make a different sound (oo, oy, oi, ou….)

Consonant influenced vowels –vowels that make a different sound when followed by an r or l (such as car, store, walk) or proceeded by a w (wash, won).

CVC- consonant, vowel, consonant short vowel pattern (as in cat)

CVVC- consonant, vowel, vowel, consonant long vowel pattern (as in rain)

CVCe- consonant, vowel, consonant, silent e long vowel pattern (as in cake)