WORD WORK for grade 1

Are you beating your head against the wall because some of your students just don’t retain the weekly words?  I’ve been there!  For several years our 1st grade team complained day after day about the 5 or 6 kids in each class who just could not remember our weekly words. We were doing something wrong, but we didn’t know what – truth be told!  The majority of our students did ok with them, but if we each had 5 kids who struggled, multiply that by the number of teachers, and we were leaving 30 kids behind.  Not acceptable.  So we came up with a plan!

Today I want to talk about word work for grade 1 activities!  I think this is one of my favorite things to talk about, I guess because we built this out of nothing.  We started from scratch, used words we knew our first grade students needed to know, and created a fabulous side curriculum to truly help – and it WORKS!

How do you practice word work?

So, how do you practice word work in your classroom?  Do your kids go from week to week forgetting the words from the previous week?  Are  they say they are practicing at home, but you can tell that they haven’t even looked at their words since you introduced them?

Well, these were some of the issues we were having, until we decided to incorporate our words THROUGHOUT our entire day for the WHOLE WEEK.  I know, yes… I should have known to do that, but we have honestly never been truly trained on how to get children to TRULY BUILD FLUENCY.  We went over the words, practiced the words with flashcards, BUT that just wasn’t enough.  My strong kiddos were fine, but my struggling students had a really hard time keeping these words in their heads.

For these activities, we used both Fry and Dolch words, along with words from our guided reading series.  Then we created hands-on center activities and games to keep them engaged and learning while practicing their words.

Here’s how it works!


We introduce the words using Elkonin boxes and a BASEBALL Game.  The students have their Elkonin box sheet in front of them, as we play Baseball with the words.  I have a powerpoint that walks you through the game.  The kids chatter, “Hey Batter, Batter…” and then the teacher pretends to throw the WORD – teacher says the word,  and then the students say and CATCH the word.

Once they know the word, you ask the students how many sounds they hear.  Then the boxes appear to show how many sounds.  Then each letter appears on the ppt – as a student or students tell you which sounds they hear.  After we look at the word, and students write the word into their Elkonin boxes, I usually have two students say a sentence with the word.  We do this for each word that we have for the week.

Baseball Word work for Grade 1 Game

Here’s a video explaining how our baseball game works.  Thanks to Mrs. Coleman for introducing this to me many moons ago.  Still a favorite of ours!


Thank you for subscribing!

-AN Freebie

I also have a -AN word family freebie in my TpT store.


We also have a powerpoint we use throughout the day that reviews the words.  Students need to be able to say these words within 3 seconds by the end of the week, so we use our ppt daily for practice. This is a great addition to Word Work for Grade 1.  I found that if we skipped this, I made it harder for my strugglers.  The more times we were able to practice throughout the day, the better – and it’s super quick!

Sometimes we call each table up to say a word before we get a sip of water, other times it’s just a 2-minute filler before we transition to another task.  The powerpoint stays at the bottom of my screen for easy access.


We have two worksheets for sight words that are placed in the students’ binders.  These go home on Monday, and students practice the words and sentences nightly as part of their homework.  Now, some do, and some don’t.  We include these sheets so that if a student is having trouble, we can refer to these during conferences.

DAILY PRACTICE with worksheets for sight words

As you can see, there are TONS of daily practice in each resource of our Word Work for Grade 1.  You are able to pick and choose what works best for each student.  Below I explain each.


We have pages that have the sentences that students need to practice with the word missing from the sentence.  These sheets come as fill in the blank with two words to choose from, or fill in the blank where they have a word box to choose from.  We usually start off with  most of the class having two words, but gradually move to the word boxes.  This is perfect for differentiation – Several options or two options to choose from.


We have pages where students need to either add letters to make a new word, subtract letters to make a new word, or substitute letters to make a new word.  These are fun and challenging for the students.


We start off with only words with different first letters, and eventually move to second and third letter order.  But again – you have the option for differentiation with your kiddos – you pick who gets which sheets.


For our mixed up pages, students have to unscramble the words and then add them up.  The tiles are scrabble times, so they add up the points.  We have another one where they just have to unscramble using the word box.


These were added a little later – word searches for the words (a favorite of the kids).  There are three different levels, and I actually let the students pick which one they want to do.  These are in a binder in one of our literacy centers.


Another thing I found useful was making flashcards for students to grab anytime they have down time.  We also grab these during centers to work with a partner.  The “teacher” (one student) has a timer, and the “other student” tries to say the words as fast as they can.  Students loved this center.  I guess anytime you give them a role of teacher, they want to play.  I’m actually updating this portion, so the new flashcards will also have the sentences at the bottom of the flashcard, and the word in bold.


We added this one several years ago, and WOWZA!!! They loved it!  I used these during guided reading, but students were also able to play “BE THE TEACHER” with these as well.  The object was to say each sentence correctly, and go through all of the sentences within a minute.  Not an easy task to do, but once they realized that they had these sentences in their binder as well ( and they could practice at home) they ROCKED it!  Competition is such a huge motivator!  I had one student who was really struggling with these, and one day during RTI he met his goal.  I overheard this conversation:

  • “Guess what I found out?”
  • “What?”
  • “These are the same sentences that are in my binder.”
  • “Really?”
  • “Yep, I’m going to tell Mrs. Juneau so she can tell the class!”

Seriously… You can’t make this stuff up!  Anyway – these really did help with our fluency, and helped with DIBELS as well!


OK – so this little center was one of my favorites.  We were told years ago to have students write sentences out, then cut them up and let them put them back together.  I loved that idea, but truth be told, it’s not something I could get to on a daily basis in guided reading.  This year, they actually cut our guided reading time, so this center REALLY came in handy!

This center takes a bit of prep, but it is so worth it.  I bought white envelopes (the smaller ones) and then taped the sentence sheet on top and laminated.  All the cards go into the envelope.

**After many years of using the white envelopes, I’ve switched to plastic picture card containers.  These are holding up well, and it makes it so easy for students to grab the set and start playing.

Students work in pairs

I printed the cards on different colored card stock so that the cards didn’t get mixed up. They put all of the cards in front of them, and then begin the race.  One student is reading the sentences to their partner, while the other student is trying to find the cards to put them into sentences.  Now, the other student can help as well – That’s what ends up happening because they are racing.  It’s really cute to see how well they can SYNERGIZE!


I also print out my words for the week and put them on our word wall.


This is fun as well…we have laminated cards in a center that have all of our words for the month.  With these cards, students get the timer and time themselves saying the words.  It’s always cute to watch them do this independently.


We are a Leader in Me School, so we also needed something for the students to track themselves. Our data graphs work great for this.  On Fridays, I call students up one at a time and assess them on their weekly words.  If they get all of the words correct, they color their graph.  If there is a word that they haven’t mastered, I circle that one in pencil, and they don’t color that word.  So now – they know the word(s) they need to still practice.  We also use these graphs for our student-led conferences.  They students can explain it beautifully!

word work GAMES:

I HAVE WHO HAS games – My students have created their own version of this game.  They like to play in groups (usually 2 – 4 players).  They “divy” up the cards evenly, then turn all of the cards face up.  One person starts the game, and then whoever has the next word, says it.  Once you say that card, you turn it over.

If you can get through the entire game, turning over the cards as you go, you win.  But sometimes they get to a card that says a word, and no-one has it.  This means someone said the wrong word early on, and so they have to turn over all of the cards and start again.  Once they realize that they can’t just say words, or the game does not work, they pay much better attention to what they are reading.

word work BOARD GAME

We also have a board game that practices our sentences.  Each card has a fill in the blank sentence (same as the homework and fluency sentences).  Students have to pick the word that fits into the sentence (multiple choice).  There is an answer key for this one as well.  Counters are used for the movable pieces, and for the spinner we use a paperclip and pencil.  It works perfectly for our Word Work for Grade 1!

word work games – SPOT THAT WORD

OK – so again – here’s a favorite! Once you’ve taught four weeks of words, you can then introduce this game.  The students put the stack of cards in the middle, and each student takes one card.  They then try to find their one match with the center card.  Whoever says their match first, gets the center card and their card.  They place to the side, and then they pick another card from the center, and it starts again.

I make my students prove it, though.  When they say they word, they also have to point to their card and the center card to show their match.  I had one little man last year who would just say words and always win.  One day I observed him, and was amazed at how fast he was.  YEP – I’m clueless!  But as I got a bit closer, I realized HE WAS CHEATING!  GRRRRRRR!!!!! Anyway – now we PROVE IT!

Side note

I brought these games homes this summer, and one day after dinner, I decided to pull out with my own kids.  My son and his WIFE, and my 18 year-old twins played this game for over thirty minutes – with FIRST GRADE WORDS!  YEP – It’s truly addictive!

Once I realized just how much these were helping with word recognition – I made other Spot that Word games to practice CVC words, Magic E words, and many other games.  You can click HERE to see all of my games.

Digital component of word work for grade 1

2021 – I’ve added a digital component to our Word Work for Grade 1.

These games will be separate resources, but will also be included in the bundles. This uses the Boom Learning Platform. You can read more about Boom HERE!  Let me know if you are excited about this addition to our Word Work for Grade 1.

There are four different strategies in each weekly Boom Card Set and ALL sets have audio.

  1. Find the word out of six words
  2. Spell the word
  3. find the word in the sentence
  4. Build the sentence

If you want to try out a week FOR FREE, click on the link below.

I hope this digital component helps you as much as our printables have helped our students.




Thank you for subscribing!

-AN Freebie

I also have a -AN word family freebie in my TpT store.


If you’re like… oh my gosh… SIGN ME UP!  I’m ready to get my kiddos where they need to be with fluency, here’s a link to the MEGA bundle. If you’re not 100% sure, I’ve got two freebies above for you to try out!  ENJOY!

Sight Words Word Work

Words covered for the year (by week):

First half of the year

  1. a, blue, come, go, I, is, jump, me, and, can, for, help, in, it, make my
  2. not, one, red, we, am, you, up, at, black, did, but, have, into, out
  3. ran, was, what, yes, as, from, some, so, went, will, ask, by, put
  4. grow, teacher, no, said, here, three, play, has, run, now, see, the, look, to
  5. day, did, very, big, away, be, she, do, park, little, funny, down, ate, he, brown, get
  6. I’m, it’s, good, where, all, must, please, house, then, like, yellow, are, no, this
  7. oh, land, of, with, now, pretty, say, them, want, they, four, our, ride
  8. children, need, two, under, soon, him, her, came, that, white, too, over his, an
  9. by, more, there, any, take, know, were, milk, or, again, give, let, when, going
  10. every, on, way, fly, may, open, other, made, could, how, once, round
  11. who, live, after, walk, each, ask, first, thank, if, time
  12. can’t, don’t, boy, home, how, said, book, thing, baby, were, many, school
  13. just, wasn’t, people, watch, under, eat, cat, bus, they, use, why, back
  14. think, man, didn’t, came, from, have, yes, saw, ball, day, grow, has
  15. very, little, same, that, into, door, right, house, tell, come, old
  16. work, new, well, will, find, care, cut, read, talk, sit, fish

Second half of the year:

  1. got, us, something, morning, door, fast, next, still, hill, call, best, fall
  2. thought, stop, took, long, Mr., live, that’s, feet, pet, miss, done, Mrs.
  3. fun, only, open, sleep, last, show, night, went, fell, read
  4. were, pull, I’ll, where, tell, love, move, five, jump, take, shout
  5. might, room, other, saw, move, life, high, think, much, those
  6. their, does, hold, food, write, anything, place, fire, thank, woman
  7. found, sun, about, end, near, across, light, laugh, below, father
  8. always, never, almost, past, along, air, story, start, tree, money
  9. easy, care, plant, maybe, without, also, keep, they, cold, thing
  10. these, long, ate, see, water, end, around, began, number, part
  11. behind, between, enough, cut, oil, easy, city, begin, been, each, farm
  12. couldn’t, know, hand, gave, ground, another, boat, each, give, father, girl
  13. bad, everything, add, isn’t, head, inside, catch, close, laugh, I’ve, knew, hold
  14. call, animal, outside, let’s, best, sing, ready, wish, own, someone
  15. done, beautiful, happy, together, brother, before, sister, any, which, should
  16. fall, everyone, friend, clean, bring, better, year, than, turn, hard