Weekly Word Study Units for K-3

In this post, I share information about how word study units differ from traditional spelling units. I explain the importance of word study and discuss how it helps students become better readers and writers. Finally, I leave you with details about my SoR-aligned, NO PREP, weekly Word Study Units for kindergarten, first, second and third-grade students.

Do you teach spelling in your classroom?  What does it look like?  For many years, in many classrooms (mine included!) students were given a list of words on a Monday, some practice activities during the week, and then an assessment on Friday.  As soon as one set of words was tested, another list took its place.  

But research has shown that this traditional “weekly spelling list/test” is ineffective.  We now know there is a better alternative and it is referred to as “word study”.   Word study is not based on random memorization of words but rather a systematic approach that provides students practice with word recognition, vocabulary, phonics, AND spelling!   

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I’ve written before about the importance of word study and shared with you a weekly word study routine. While many of you enjoyed that post, you asked for more! You said you needed resources that were aligned to the routine I shared, so that’s what I have created!

Today, I am thrilled to share with you my newly updated weekly word study units!! I’ll discuss why word study is important and how it helps students.  Then I’ll share details about my research-based, science of reading-aligned, NO PREP, weekly word study program for kindergarten, first, second and third grade students.  It has EVERYTHING you need to provide your students with effective word study instruction and spelling practice all year long!

What is Word Study? 

Word study units are different from traditional spelling units.  Instead of giving students a list of words to memorize each week, word study units focus on a specific phonics skill.  Students are given explicit instruction on the phonics pattern.  They engage in activities throughout the week that allow them to practice the phonics skill and investigate and discover the patterns in words.  

Kindergarten word study weekly resources example

Why is Word Study Important? 

Word study offers students opportunities to investigate and discover the patterns in words. When students have knowledge of these patterns they don’t learn to spell just one word at a time.  They can generalize and apply their new learning to their reading and their writing.  

Research has shown that when students learn to spell and when they learn to read they rely on much of the same underlying knowledge- the relationships between letters and sounds. A word study program that helps children better understand letter/sound relationships will result in better reading.

Research also finds a strong relationship between spelling and writing.  Writing requires students to do a lot of things at once.  They have to use proper handwriting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation while thinking about the structure and organization, their topic, or the message they are sending to their reader.  If a student has to think too hard about how to spell the words they want to write, it takes up cognitive resources that they really need for the other, higher-level aspects of writing.  Those aspects will suffer when a child has to put too much thought into spelling.

Finally, take a minute to view this quick video with Dr. Louisa Moats. In it, she discusses having knowledge of how words are spelled can support a child’s reading and writing.  

My Weekly Word Study Resource for K-3

We understand it is important for students to engage in word study so they can learn to spell. Sadly, I still hear from so many of you that your school does not offer you any sort of word study or spelling program to follow.   It is too time-consuming for you to create word study activities and lists EVERY SINGLE WEEK!!  So I went ahead and did it for you! 

My Weekly Word Study Units have EVERYTHING you need to provide your students with effective word study instruction and spelling practice all year long!

I have different units for kindergarten, first, second, AND third grade students. While the units vary a bit from grade to grade, they all contain these core components:

💕 A Scope and Sequence

We know that for instruction to be most effective, it must be systematic and follow a scope and sequence. The scope and sequences included in these resources are based on my learning including Wiley Blevins’ book, A Fresh Look at Phonics*, The Reading Teacher’s Top Ten Tools, and Speech to Print and are specific for each grade.

Take a closer look at the scope and sequences!

💕 Word cards

These word cards can be printed out on card stock and used in centers, small groups, or for your whole group instruction.

2nd grade word study word cards example

💕 3 Editable Practice Printables for Each Unit

We know that in order for students to master the skills we teach they need a lot of practice. For every unit, you’ll get 3 editable practice printables. The activities vary slightly depending on grade and the skill that is being taught.

1st grade word study student practice printables
3rd grade word study student practice printables

💕 Editable Assessments

1st grade word study assessment
3rd grade word study assessment

While the assessments vary a bit from grade to grade, they all include:

Word Dictation: words that follow the week’s phonics skills and bonus spaces for review or high-frequency words.

Sentence Dictation: a sentence that includes target phonics skill words, previously taught phonics skill words and high-frequency words.

Spelling Error Analysis: a sentence that includes target phonics skill words, previously taught phonics skill words and high-frequency words. Students must correct the mistakes and rewrite the corrected sentences.

💕 A Teacher Assessment Guide and Master Word List

You’ll get an answer key for each unit to make it extra easy for you to quickly check those assessments!

1st grade teacher assessment guide example

💕 A Family Letter for Each Unit

We know that word study looks a little different than traditional spelling that families may be accustomed to. This letter will help families understand the shift, inform them of the focus for the unit, and offer them ways to support their children at home.

1st grade family word study letter example

I hope the information I have shared today will help to better understand the importance of word study and empower you to feel that you CAN bring effective spelling instruction and practice into your classroom!


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