spelling · vocabulary · word study

3 Reasons to Try Word Ladders!

Challenge: Create a meaningful and fun learning experience for students when half the class leaves for a pull-out period and it is the end of the day.

One solution I’ve found: Word Ladders!

This word ladder was found on Wikimedia Commons.

A word ladder is a way to show students how they can change words by deleting or adding letter(s). When meaning based clues are also offered, word ladders can help improve students’ vocabulary as well as their spelling and phonics skills.

I’ve been using Daily Word Ladders (Grades 2-3) by Timothy Rasinski but you can make your own word ladders based on spellng patterns your students are learning. Dr. Mark Weakland made a helpful video on how to use vowel teams when creating your own word ladder.

Dr. Mark Weakland explains how to create a vowel team word ladder.

Here are three reasons you might want to try word ladders with your students:

Reason 1: Word Ladders are a quick learning activity.

You can certainly teach into word ladders with your students and include a word ladder lesson in your small group rotations for reading and writing. Word ladders can also be an independent activity or one students try with a partner. They can fit into many different times of the day. More challenging word ladders can be offered as enrichment to students who finish assignments early.

Reason 2: Word Ladders are fun!

More joy is definitely needed in the classroom, in my opinion! My students love word ladders and ask for them. They find them challenging and several students like to sit together and try to figure them out. Students are learning new words and seeing how letters can be changed to alter words from one to another. Students feel a sense of accomplishment when they reach the top of the ladder.

Reason 3: Word Ladders provide more opportunity to think about words.

To be better readers and writers, my students need a richer and more expansive vocabulary. They need to think about words, word meaning, and how to spell words. My curriculum is so packed and with 23 students in my class, it is challenging to find time to focus on words and words alone. I appreciate how word ladders are a short, quick, fun way to help students build their bank of words and interest in words, too.

Have you used Word Ladders with your students? What are your experiences building appreciation and fun around words?

7 thoughts on “3 Reasons to Try Word Ladders!

  1. Just circling back around to this article. I love it! It opens the door to work word – and word play! In the past, I’ve used Dr. Funster’s Word Benders, but I’m always on the lookout for other resources, particularly ones that have activities for a wider range of readiness. Thank you!


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