Word Study

Reading Foundational Skills

"Good spelling is critical for literacy, and it makes writing much easier - allowing the writer to focus on the ideas conveyed, not the letters needed to put those ideas on paper." Dr. Louisa Moats

These foundational skills are not an end in and of themselves; rather, they are necessary and important components of an effective, comprehensive reading program designed to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend texts across a range of types and disciplines.


People generally read better than they spell. The better our knowledge of the spelling system, the better we are at decoding an unfamiliar word and spelling correctly. Spelling is the best method to assess what a person knows about the way words work. By analyzing students’ invented spellings as a guide, teachers can differentiate efficient, effective instruction in phonics, spelling, and vocabulary. We call this instruction word study. We believe that this word study is well worth 10 to 15 minutes of explicit instruction, guided discovery, and assessment of transfer daily. The purpose of word study, then, is to examine words in order to reveal consistencies within our own written language system and help students master the recognition, spelling, and meaning of specific words. (Words Their Way)

Making and Writing Words or Words Their Way

We give teachers the option of two research-based hands-on word study programs - Words Their Way or Making Words. Both tactile instructional word study programs do not resemble the classic ineffective spelling approaches - "Friday spelling test," writing words multiple times, fill-in-the blank packets, etc. The ultimate goal of word study is to produce students that can unconsciously transfer spelling instruction to his/her writing, not memorize words for a Friday test and forget the same words when composing a writing piece.

How can parents help at home?
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The ABC Match game challenges children to match letter cards and picture cards that begin with that letter, for example, d with a picture of a dog. Children learn to read by first learning how letters sound—this relationship between letters and sounds is called phonics. Once children learn how individual letters sound, they can then string them together to sound out simple words like cat or map.
Educational practice on the go! Scholastic has a great word game application that kids will love, called Clifford's BE BIG With Words. It stars that lovable big red dog. Students can use this application to experiment with letters and letter sounds by helping Jetta paint spelling words. This application really delivers its promise to engage kids in "word building, spelling, and vocabulary skills." .
WordGirl Word Hunt is a more advanced educational iPhone/iTouch application that provides a wonderful way to help develop and enhance student's vocabulary. It is recommended for upper elementary grade students. In each adventure, students must choose and collect ten correct words to help WordGirl defeat the villains. Even if the child selects the wrong word it gives the definition, and tells whether the word is correct or not.