Word Work Activities! Such a fun literacy component, for all elementary grades.

The following 6 word work activities will transform elementary students into better spellers. Your struggling spellers will especially benefit.

Word work is best when it’s interactive in some way.

That’s why the word work activities presented here will ensure that your elementary students are “doing” word work and not just merely copying and spelling.

Easy Word Work Activities for Struggling Writers & Spellers

Activity #1: Word Patterns

Students work with a partner to study word patterns.

Word Patterns Example 1:  You have a word, mouse.

A student will ask his/her partner…

How would you spell (to practice writing) or say (to practice reading) these words: 

blouse, house, douse, spouse? (Add any other words to this list.)

Afterwards, students write a sentence with each word.

If they don’t know the word, they may use a dictionary or ask their partner for help.

Word Patterns Example 2: You have a word, drink.

The student asks his partner…

How would you spell (to practice writing) or say (to practice reading) these words:

wink, blink, sink, link, mink, pink, roller rink?

Again, students write a sentence with each word. If they don’t know the word, they may use a dictionary or ask a peer for help.

Word Patterns Example 3: You have a word, black.

How would you spell (to practice writing) or say (to practice reading) these words:

back, flack, backpack, lack, hack, sack, Jack, snack, pack, tack, Zack?

And once again they write sentences.

NOTE: With the last example, students should notice that Jack and Zach are capitalized. Ask them if they know why. Great teachable moment.

Have the questions that students ask each other written on task cards.  

Students can manipulate the words using alphabet magnets, onset/blends/root word cards, or a white board.

The spelling patterns word work activities can be used with any terms that have spelling patterns. (e.g., night, could, car, etc.).

Activity #2: Endings

For this activity, students work with a partner to practice writing endings for root words.

Here are some examples:

  • How would you write the word jump in the past tense? (jumped, add –ed)
  • How do you spell jumpingWhat is the plural of city? (cities, y-i change pattern).
  • How do you spell stop in the past tense? (stopped, double the consonant before adding –ed or -ing).
  • If you can spell beautiful, how would you spell beauty?
  • What is the plural of bug? (bugs, add –s when it is more than one).
  • How do you spell prettier and prettiest? (y to i change pattern).
  • If you can spell played, how would you spell player?
  • How do you spell crashes? (when a word ends in ch, sh, or x, add –es)

Again, have the questions that students ask each other written on note cards.

This word work activity is great for learning –ed, -er, and -ing endings and also for words that have irregular end changes such as city, pretty, and beauty.  

Activity # 3: Irregular Words

Spelling irregular words can be tricky. They don’t follow a pattern and can get quite confusing for struggling spellers.

As an accommodation, have an anchor chart somewhere in the classroom with commonly misspelled irregular words, and encourage students often to use those anchor charts as support.

Here are some examples:

  • What is the plural of child? (children)
  • What is the plural of person? (people)
  • What is the present tense of caught? (catch)
  • What is the past tense of drink? (drank, drunk)

Again, students work with a partner and read from task cards.  Have them practice as many irregular words as possible.

Activity #4: Synonyms

This is a great activity for teaching students about strong verbs and colorful adjectives.

A thesaurus is a must for this word work activity.

Students choose (or you choose) five words.  Students then make a list of synonyms to accompany those words.

I like to call these synonyms “spicy” words since they add spice to one’s writing and are used less frequently by students.

This activity can also be done with antonyms.

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easy word work activities struggling upper elementary students

Activity #5: Vocabulary Sketch

This activity is perfect for use in the content areas which have lots of area-specific vocabulary that students aren’t exposed to daily.

This simple word work activity simply involves students sketching or drawing a few of their spelling or vocabulary words.

Sweet and simple.

Activity #6: Frayer Model (Prefixes, Suffixes, Root Words)

The Frayer Model template pairs especially well with prefix, suffix, endings, and root words spelling practice.

Have students write a root word, prefix, or suffix in the center of the graphic organizer.

Make sure the word or word-part chosen is grade appropriate and somewhat familiar to students.

Students then write examples, non-examples, characteristics, and a definition associated with the word.

This word work activity really gets students thinking critically.

As an example, if the center word is “-less”, students will write examples of words with this suffix along with non-examples, characteristics, and a definition.

This graphic organizer is great for differentiating instruction because you can assign students a wide range (based on difficulty) of prefixes, suffixes, and root words.

Alternatively, one student could complete this graphic organizer for a few different words with each word having a different level of difficulty.

To make this activity more hands-on, check out this easy foldable Frayer Model.

Easy Word Work Activities for Struggling Writers

Your struggling writers and spellers will definitely benefit from these easy word work activities.

Place these exercises in literacy centers or stations ,and now you’re all set.

They’re interactive, easy, and effective.

Happy teaching and learning