In this post, I answer the question “what is orthographic mapping” and share details about my own Word Mapping Bundle, a resource that promotes orthographic mapping. Finally, I share FREE CVC Word Mapping activities that provide guided instruction practice or make a perfect literacy center or independent activity for kindergarten, first, or second-grade students.
We have long known that word recognition is key to reading success. A student with poor word recognition will have weak fluency and their comprehension will suffer. Knowing this, primary teachers have always spent a lot of time helping students learn their sight words. Unfortunately, for far too long we did so in the wrong way.
We relied on flashcards and rote memorization. We thought if a student saw a word enough times, it would eventually stick. While it worked for some, it didn’t work for all. There have always been too many students who struggle to remember new words.
In recent years, reading experts and cognitive scientists have begun to look more closely into how we learn to read. They discovered that reading is NOT like visual memory. Something else is going on….
As primary teachers, it is essential we have a strong understanding of how written words are remembered. This will determine what we teach and how we teach it. That’s why today I am excited to share what I’ve learned from research on the Science of Reading and through David Kilpatrick’s book, Equipped for Reading Success. I will answer the question “what is orthographic mapping” and share details about my own Word Mapping Activities that enables this process.
What is Orthographic Mapping?
Orthographic mapping is the mental process we use to permanently store words for immediate retrieval and become fluent readers.
To understand this process we first have to remember that every word has three forms – the sounds (phonemes), the orthography (spelling), and the meaning.
When students use orthographic mapping, they connect something new with something they already know. Through listening and speaking, they already know a word’s pronunciation and meaning. This information is already stored in their long-term memory.
For a written word to become a sight word, students have to map or attach the sounds in a word’s pronunciation to the letter sequence in the word’s spelling. When we do this, everything about the word (the sound, the spelling, and the meaning) is stored in our long-term memory and the word becomes a sight word.
When a student’s orthographic mapping skills improve, their sight vocabulary grows. This helps improve reading fluency and comprehension.
Can You Teach Orthographic Mapping?
No. Orthographic mapping is a mental process. It is not a skill, a teaching technique, or an activity you can teach. However, there are specific skills that we can teach to promote the process of orthographic mapping.
In order for orthographic mapping to take place, these three skills must be in place:
- Phonemic awareness. Students need to be able to identify, think about and manipulate individual sounds in words.
- Letter-sound correspondence. Students need to know what letter the sounds make. Vice-versa, they need to be able to hear a sound and know what letter or letters make that sound.
- Decoding. Students need the ability to accurately and quickly decode a word by identifying its sounds letter by letter, and blending those sounds to read the word.
Some kids pick up on these skills with minimal instruction. Others need a lot of explicit, systematic instruction and cumulative practice. Sadly, far too many of our current reading instructional approaches do not give enough attention to phoneme awareness and letter-sound correspondence.
Activities that Promote Orthographic Mapping
Orthographic mapping is a mental process, not a skill that we can teach students. What can be taught are phonemic awareness and phonics skills that promote orthographic mapping.
Today I’m happy to share with you one specific resource that promotes orthographic mapping.
Word mapping activities are a physical way to represent the relationship between the phonemes and graphemes. They allow students to physically connect or match the letters with the sounds they represent and help promote the process of orthographic mapping. Ultimately word mapping activities build word recognition and decoding skills that improve fluency in both reading and writing.
This printable and digital Word Mapping Resource has EVERYTHING you need to get students mapping words in your classroom. It includes interactive digital slides for over 485 words!
Students will see a picture of the word to build meaning and hear an audio recording of the word. Then they will map the phonemes (sounds) they hear, and finally spell the word using graphemes.
This resource also comes with mapping boards and word image cards for your guided group instruction and independent practice.
The phoneme tapping and mapping worksheets provide explicit practice with short vowels, blends, digraphs, long vowels, CVCe, R-controlled, and diphthong words. You’ll get 42 printables with self-checking answer keys that are perfect for independent student practice, literary centers, homework, or left as a meaningful activity for a substitute AFTER you have explicitly taught the skills to your students.
Ready to give Word Mapping a try in your classroom? Grab these FREE CVC Word Mapping activities!
I hope the information and resources I’ve shared today help you understand the process of orthographic mapping and motivate you to bring more effective, science-based reading instruction to your students!
Looking for more ways to enable your students’ orthographic mapping process? Take a look at these Heart Word Word Mapping activities and be on the lookout for my next post, where I share information about my Yearlong Printable and Digital Phonics Bundle. It is a NO PREP, science-based resource that gives students the phonics practice they need to begin the process of orthographic mapping.
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