Word Wall Bobs

Apr 7, 2009 by

I borrowed this phrase from BER presenter Diane Murphy.  She uses the phrase to describe the action she wants her students to use as they practice and learn the high frequency words on the word wall—bobbing their heads up and down as they look from the wall to their papers.  The practice activities listed below help students learn to read and write irregularly spelled high frequency words.  As Regie Routman warns in her book Conversations, teachers need to “guard against encouraging even young students to invent spellings of common words such as, come, and like.  It’s not efficient for students to unlearn misspellings of words that they’ve been using over and over again.”  

Write, Clap, and Chant

Call out a word from the word wall.  Have students write the word and then clap and chant to check the spelling they have written.

Word Wall Chants

Review word wall words by having students chant the spellings in a variety of multi-modal ways.  Below are just a few favorites.  You can find more at the following website:  
I write the name of each cheer on a small laminated notepad and place each sheet into a ziploc bag.  When we need to get up and move or when we’re transitioning to a new activity, I will pull a slip out of the bag and practice a couple of word wall words.
•    Snap and Clap – Snap the vowels; clap the consonants.
•    Ketchup – One hand open, the other hand closed; pound hands together like you would pound a bottle of ketchup.
•   Marshmallow Clap – Almost like a clap but you stop just before the hands touch for each letter.
•    Deep Voice – Say the letters and the word in a deep voice.
•    Mouse Talk – Squeaky voice with hands curled up by face.
•    Raise the Roof – Push up toward the ceiling, one push for each letter.
•    Throw the Stars – Throw one hand at a time up toward the ceiling for each letter.
•    Mexican Hat Dance – Alternate feet in front.
•    Motorcycle – Hang on to the pretend handle bars and do wheelies for each letter.
•    Dribble and Shoot – Dribble the letters and shoot the word.
•    Tigger Bounce – Bounce up and down for each letter.
•    Be the Letter – Like doing the YMCA song.
•    Jumping Jacks – One movement for each letter.
•    Frisbee – Throw each letter frisbee style.
•    The Swim – Swim the letters; hold your nose and go down at the end when you say the word.
•    Explosion – Start at a whisper; get louder with each letter; explode when you say the words at the end.

Ruler Tap

Call out a word and use a ruler to tap out several letters without saying those letters.  When the tapping stops, call on a child to finish spelling the word aloud.  If he finishes the word correctly, allow him to tap out the next word.

Daily Fast Writes

Give students a high frequency word to spell on individual white boards.  Have them refer to the high frequency word wall to confirm the spelling.  Then tell them:  “Write it.  Erase it.  Write it again.  Do it fast.”

Word Wall Sentences

After the word wall has quite a few words, dictate sentences that contain many of these words.  Have students write the sentences, referring to the word wall as necessary.

Be a Mind Reader

Have students number a paper or white board from 1 to 5.  Think of a word and give five clues.  After each clue students write a word from the word wall that they think matches the clues.  The first clue is always “It’s one of the words on the word wall.”
1.    It’s one of the words on the word wall.
2.    It has four letters.
3.    It begins with th.
4.    The vowel is an e.
5.    It finishes the sentence I gave my books to ___.


Give each student an individual white board and marker.  Select one student to use a paintbrush dipped in water to paint a word wall word on the chalkboard.  Students at their seats begin writing the word as many times as they can on their white boards.  While students are writing, the child at the chalkboard uses his white board to fan the word, getting it to evaporate.  The student who writes the word the most times earns a point.


This game is played like Evaporation but is adapted for classrooms with white boards instead of chalkboards.  Instead of using a wet paint brush, the student writes the word in very large letters on the white board and then erases it while the rest of the class writes the word on individual boards.

20 Questions (or however many students you have)

Select a word wall word but don’t reveal it to the class.  Students take turns asking one question each, trying to guess the word.  Each student must ask one question.  If a child knows the word, he may not say it until every student has asked one question.


Write several word wall words on the board. Divide the class into two teams.  Have one member from each team stand by the chalkboard with a flyswatter.  Dictate words or give clues to words.  The first team member to swat the correct word earns a point for his team.  Students take turns being the swatter.


Just like Swat, only students use flashlights in a darkened room.


Give each student a photocopied grid with 9, 16, or 25 squares.  Have students select words from the word wall.  As words are selected, write them on index cards while students write them anywhere on their grids.  When the grid is complete, shuffle the cards and begin calling out the words.  As each word is called out, have students chant the spelling and cover the word on their boards with small objects.  The first student to complete a row wins WORDO.


the very there
was were    from
went where  for

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