Daily 5 Book Study: Chapter 6 Word Work

Confession: Now that "The Closer" is down to the last few episodes, I'm not sure if I can focus on much else.  I have my suspicions about the leak and how the show will end and am awaiting to see if they're correct. 

But since the show's on once a week, I need something to occupy my thoughts.  And what's better than ironing out how to use D5 in a classroom?  And reading how your fellow bloggers implement D5?

Of all of the choices, Word Work is the most challenging to me.  Which is why I'm super psyched about seeing how the K crew is implementing it.  But here are my thoughts:
Experimenting with words for learning and looking for a spelling pattern.  Since I'm new to kindergarten, I'm assuming there will probably be the widest range of abilities in this grade than any other.  (I should probably point out I've taught 1st-5th, so I've earned the right to make that assumption.)  I am expecting some to arrive with no letter-sound knowledge, some with only letter identification skills, some who know letters and sounds, and some who are already reading basic sight words.  And their needs will be met accordingly. 
  • For the ones who need to practice letter formation, they can use Play-doh, sand in a pie plate, or even plastic mesh to help create their letters.  (I like to take the small plastic mesh-there's a real term for it and it will come to me after this has been poster.  Or if you know what I'm talking about, please tell me.)  With the mesh, kids can trace a letter and then "feel" the letter-so they can understand which direction a b points or that a g has more on the bottom than the top. 
  • For those who are reading, I have made paint chip word families.  They can write down as many onsets as they can think of.  (It will be interesting to see if any of them list blends or digraphs.)  Then they can sort their words into real and nonsense words.   Another idea is to have them read poems that include sight words.  Have them record sight words and underline the rimes that create the rhyme. 

  • I also made some letter tiles this summer.  (Thanks, Classroom DIY).  So that way if a child needs to practice short vowel or long vowel words I can hand them to rime and let them work.  Also, after they've made a list of words, they can circle (or star or underline-whatever your preference is) the words they already know the meaning of.  For instance, a child might not understand the word "vat" even though they can decode it.  These words can be used for vocab instruction.

Memorizing high frequency words.  My school has an assessment binder which lists the various high frequency words.  I need to check and see what lists need to be read so I can have the greatest understanding of which child is below, on, or above level.  I have sight words in a ring of various colors.  This helps the kids know which words to use.  As far as helping the kids learn them, I'm going back to ideas that I've used before:

  • Whiteboards and dry erase markers.  I've already got the various word lists on rings, so they can practice writing them.  For a nice variation of strategies (instead of "Write your words five times" like I heard growing up) here are some ideas for writing words.
  • Shaving cream.  Those who chose word work in my 1-2 split had the option of writing their words in shaving cream.  I have five or six cookie pans I bought from Dollar Tree that were used for this alone.  We went over how much cream to put in the pan and how to clean up.  There was also a strict "use only one hand" rule-if they get both hands they tend to play among other things. 
  • Reading rods.  Have them make words on the reading rods.  Although this summer I saw something where sight words were written on the side of Legos and I thought that would be fun to try.
  • Desks.  While this sounds like being a glutten for punishment, this was actually one of the quietest groups.  They were to get their ring (I told them which color) and then take a washable maker and one paper towel.  They dampened only half of the towel, returned to their desk and practiced writing words in the marker on their desks. 
Generalizing spelling patterns.  Please see my answers from the first question.

Vocab:  This is the one that stumped me.  With kids reading different levels of books, how do you make unknown words interesting to kids?  I've pinned Marzano's 6 Steps of Vocabulary Instruction, but I also think kids need to be taught the various ways you can determine the meaning of a new word: context clues, diagrams, looking it up.  I think this part of the Daily 5 lends itself well to helping children find prefixes, suffixes and root words in the words they encounter.  Depending on the child and what skill needs to be developed, they may draw a pic (and/or explain) of how the prefix changes a word's meaning.

Materials I already have: pencils, crayons, paper, shaving cream, whiteboards, dry erase markers and cookie tins.  I also have the homemade letter tiles.  And the marvelous Marsha McGuire posted some resources that are too darling for words.

Materials I need:  Veteran K teachers, I will gladly take suggestions!

Storage: I would like to put the corresponding resources in one of the mondo resealable bags.  (They're my second fav school supply right after Sharpies.)  This way it's contained in a central location and when it's time to put everything away, I will have a cabinet or bookcase where they will fit. 

Workspace:  Since I know that children will be all over the room, this is the only one where I'm kinda strict.  I have told them if they use shaving cream or markers they need to use them at their seat.  This way, if they make a big mess they won't be infringing on another child's space. 

I am so excited to see what you have to say.  You've got great ideas!  Keep up the good work!  In the words of Brenda Leigh Johnson (main character on :"The Closer"):  Thank yew.  Thank yew so much!


  1. I tried the shaving cream last year and I will never do it again. My neighbor teacher had no problem with it. No matter how much I told then what I expected, I always had one or two who would either lay across the table in it or start clapping their hands to watch it fly all over the place. NEVER AGAIN! LOL! Good luck! :)

    1. Oh my goodness...what a mess! We had a strict "one hand" rule. If they used more than one hand they lost their privilege for the day. And since I had older kids last year, it makes me wonder if I will see it this year. I'll keep you posted. :)


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