All About Word Walls

If you’re a teacher, there’s a good chance you’ve got a Word Wall in your room {either by desire or demand}.  9 times out of 10, the Word Wall you spent hours planning, setting up, & prepping is just a piece of wall décor.  Am I right or am I totally off base?!  Maybe I’m just speaking from experience.  Hopefully you know what I’m talking about! 

I’ve always had a bit of an issue with my Word Walls.  They’re not conveniently located.  At all.  And really, that’s all my fault.  I could make it more accessible.  I would always start out the year with a BANG….like we all do.  I would add words to the wall every week.  Then a few months in and I start getting lazy.  

Do I REALLY have to stand on that shelf to put those words up??  
UGH…I’ll just wait until tomorrow.
 And then tomorrow becomes two weeks later. Grrrr.  The struggle is real!

I’ve been working with a few teachers who have the exact same issue.  Inaccessible, ineffective word walls.  So we got to work and started brainstorming ways to fix the issue.  Thank God for Pinterest {can I get an amen?!}  I do realize Pinterest isn’t a person and I’m not going to credit the website…I’m just thankful I can search for something and about a thousand VISUAL images pop up in the same place.  Love that.  I am SUCH a visual learner!!!

My favorite Word Wall displays are those that are bordered and sectioned off on cabinets or white boards.  I haven’t been able to do this because I’ve never had any accessible cabinets and my white board was either blocked by the SmartBoard or had to be used as a screen for my projector.  Like I said…the struggle is REAL.

I’m a little obsessed with brain research and think it’s SO fascinating.  Did you know that our brain is actually programmed to see in borders?!  Fascinating!

Speaking of making things visually easier for our kids to process, another thing you might want to consider is adding an anchor picture with each header to help with letter/sound relationships…this is especially important for our babies who find letter & sound recognition a bit challenging.  The amazing Debbie Diller talks about this, too.   I created these word wall header cards for these sweet teachers to use in their rooms…just click on the pic to download some for your classroom, too! {FREE!!}

I’ve always put my words on the wall in one uniform color and the background paper has always been solid. Research shows that the uniformity helps our kids to process and retain information and the solid background colors that serve as a base for your word walls cut out any additional visual distractions.  I think minimal distractions are so important for our emergent readers!

For our primary kids, it’s imperative to put the Word Wall in an accessible place.  This isn’t always possible due to space restrictions and what not, but I love these solutions…

If the thought of having a portable word wall scares you a bit….not being able to see each word on the wall as you would with a traditional word wall space….you could always incorporate both in your classroom.  You just have to get a little creative with your space J

I’ve always utilized a personal Word Wall for each of my kids as well.  Each one of my babies gets one at the beginning of the year and then they add to it as the year goes on.  Just staple/glue the pages to the back and front of a file folder and laminate.  Voila!  You can use vis a vis markers to add words as the year progresses and if the word walls are still in good condition at the end of the year you can save them and reuse them next year, too!  {However, I know our Kinder friends might have a little struggle with that ;)}  Grab your Personal Word Wall FREEBIE!  Just click on the pic!

At the beginning of the year in Kindergarten, our babies struggle with handwriting…most of them, anyway.  So what I’d do is have them bring their personal word walls to the teacher table during our guided reading/small group instruction and I’d quickly add words {that we have ALREADY learned and reviewed} to their walls.  I gradually release control as the year …and their handwriting…progresses.

The first words that go on the word wall are our names.  I usually start the year out with NO words on the wall.  Then we add names after the first couple of days or so.  I always have a picture next to their names as well {I usually create these in Power Point after I take all of their pictures so that I can make multiple copies for various name activities we do during that first month of school}.  This is an example of what that looks like....

As the year goes on, we add more and more words to the wall, but ONLY after we have learned and reviewed them…typically a week after they’re introduced.  I keep those words on our focus wall and then transfer them to the word wall. 

Now that the word wall is set up, what in the world are we supposed to do with it?!  I know it’s all too easy for it to just become another “pretty thing” in our classroom.  It can be challenging to figure out how to incorporate it into everyday classroom happenings and make it relevant.  But I think that’s the key…incorporating it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY….then it becomes a habit!  And the kids have SO much fun with it, too!

I put together a little resource for the teachers I’ve been working with…just a little something to help them make their word walls more interactive.  It includes 32 teacher activity cards {that’s 32 different ways to incorporate the every day use of the word wall in your room}, printables that accompany some of the activities, and 200 words for the word wall {plus an editable template for you to add more words  as needed  Like we talked about earlier, I’ve always displayed my word wall words in black and red, on white background. {consonants = black, vowels = red}.  Maybe this will be helpful for you, too!

Here’s a little sample freebie from the packet…maybe it’s something you can use in your room this year J

I’d love to hear more about the way you incorporate the use of the Word Wall in your classrooms!  


  1. The past three years I've put my word wall up on part of the whiteboard and separated sections with washi tape (gotta be pretty right?). Our class added words throughout the year with a dry erase pen. SO easy and easy to maintain!

    1. SO smart, Jennifer!! When I go back to the classroom that's exactly what I plan on doing! SO much easier to maintain!!! Why do I always make things harder than they have to be?! LOL!!

  2. This past year I worked to make our class word wall interactive. Another teacher gave me an idea to do a "words we know" bag. When I saw that every student in the class knew a word fluently we would have a "celebration" and put the word in the bag. That way the word wall didn't fill up to an overwhelming level and my students could be really excited about their word knowledge.

    1. Love, love, LOVE this idea!!!! THank you for sharing!!! I want to use that when I go back to the classroom!!! THANK YOU!

    2. I love the "words we know" bag! How clever and fun! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I used your alphabet anchor charts for my word wall this year! My new classroom has two whiteboards in in so I am able to use one for a magnetic word wall!

    Here is the link to my blog post--I took a picture and credited you for my cute wall!


    1. Love this, Ashton!!! Looks awesome!!! So glad those work for you!!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. My district has the belief that the alphabet should be linear and NOT wrap in any way, so we can't block or border our word walls, even though it does make them look more visually appealing IMO. Anyone else have a district like that?

    1. WOW!!! That's so interesting!!! I've never been in a district like that. It will be interesting to see if that belief ever changes ;)