9 Easy, Hands-On Word Work Ideas

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We know that kids learn best when they’re engaged in hands-on learning, but it can be hard to think of new ways to keep them practicing the same word work skills! That’s why i’ve come up with these easy STEM-based ideas that use items you most likely have in your classroom already!

These activities are perfect for centers, morning tubs, early finisher activities, whatever you need!

You may be thinking… can my kids handle these? YES! As long as you set the procedures and expectations and then follow through with your management, then yes, your students can handle these centers. In fact, i’ve found that kids are less likely to misuse materials when they’re engaged in the task at hand!

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Students can use the hashtag building blocks from Target to build words.

This is the only item that most teachers might not have, but if you visited Bullseye’s Playground this summer, there’s a chance you picked these up! These are the $1 hashtag building blocks, but honestly, there are MANY different building materials similar to this online!

I used the sight word cards from my Morning Tubs pack, but you could use words on index cards, spelling lists, letters, anything you want your students to build!

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Students can use geo-boards to make letters.

Geo-boards are perfect for making letters, numbers, or shapes! I do suggest getting some smaller rubber bands (like they small ones you can find in the hair styling aisle) if you want your students to be able to make shorter links.

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Students can make words using mini-erasers.

Mini-erasers are such a fun way to build words and you can keep this fresh by switching them out seasonally! I get my erasers from Target’s Bullseye’s Playground every season. I also like to add in a fine motor component by having students use tweezers to pick up each eraser.

You can have students free-form words from a word wall or word list, or you can use pre-made mats. I often use my sight word playdough mats for this activity!

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Students can use connecting cubes to form letters or words.

Using connecting cubes to build letters and words is an activity that never gets old for my students! These cards are from my September Morning Tubs for Kindergarten, but you could make this even more challenging by simply having your students choose a magnetic letter and build it without a model!

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Students can use playdough to form words.

Playdough is one of those mediums that teachers either love or hate, usually depending on what type of flooring you have. I have tile floors so I LOVE using playdough! This is such a great way to build up students’ fine motor muscles!

Students can form letters or words by rolling the playdough into “snakes” and then twisting it. Also, a good alternative to ink pads and stamping is to have students stamp into playdough! I show an example of this in my 8 Fun, Free Letter Review Activities post.

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Students can use tangrams to build letters and words.

Tangrams are great to build letters and words with and you can incorporate math by having students identify the shapes they used and counting how many they used of each one!

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Students can use tweezers and pom-poms to form letters.

This is one of my FAVORITE fine motor activities! Similar to the mini-erasers, students can use tweezers to pick up pom-poms and use them to form letters or words! In the winter, I swap in white pom-poms to be “snowballs!”

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Students can use base 10 blocks to build words.

You can easily integrate word work into math with this activity! Students will make words using rods and cubes. You can extend it by having them identify how many ones and tens the word is worth. In kindergarten, I will often have my students use just the cubes and then count them.

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Students can use plastic links to make letters.

I’m sure by now you’ve caught on – i’m just taking any manipulatives and using them to make the same activity feel new and exciting! Here students will use plastic links to make letters or words.

Do you have any more fun, hands-on word work ideas that I didn’t list here? Let us know down below!

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8 Fun, Free Letter Review Activities

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If you are a kindergarten teacher, you know how important it is to teach and review letters until it feels like you’re in a real life version of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. It can get old, fast to us and to our kiddos.

Thankfully, it’s SO easy to spice things up a little bit and keep those letters interesting to both us and our students! All of these activities require little to no prep and if they use materials, it’s probably something you have already in your classroom!

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I don’t think this activity is new to anyone, but it’s a staple. I know some teachers absolutely despise playdough in the classroom because of the mess, but really, I say the bigger the mess the more learning is happening!

This activity is awesome for for fine motor and it helps students really see the lines and curves of each letter. Win!

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Another playdough activity! Just like some teachers despise playdough, I despise ink pads. I’ll admit it – ink covered hands touching every important paper and surface is my kryptonite.

As an alternative, I let my students stamp letters in playdough! They just pick a letter, find the stamp, and stamp it in the playdough. As an added bonus, this stamp set has each letter on printed on the tray so students have to match them when they all accidentally on purpose get jumbled up. I just got it on Amazon.

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This is another activity that is great for fine motor because students have to really work to manipulate the pipe cleaners just right. Eventually, I let them make sight words using pipe cleaners too! It’s always a favorite.

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This activity I just thought of on the spot, but I LOVE it! Students pick a letter and then have to find the matching letter in the bag of letter beads. Then they string them onto a pipe cleaner.

This is another activity that could also be used to practice sight words! Just have students string the letters to make each word onto the pipe cleaners! How easy it that??

The next few activities are meant to be done whole group or in small groups and would be great for when you have an extra 5 minutes to fill.

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For this activity, you will think of a letter and give students clues to guess what it is. You can use features such as “It has a circle then a stick” or sounds “Bear begins with it.”

Once students get the hang of this, they can be the ones to think of the letters and give clues!

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This game practices beginning sounds. You will say a letter and a word that begins with that letter (b balloon). Then you will go around the circle as students say words that begin with that letter (ball, bear, bee). When they cannot think of any more, that letter ends. You can make it a competition by seeing which letter they can think of the most words for!

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For this activity, you will need a bowl of letter magnets or tiles. You could make it really interesting by getting a plastic cauldron around Halloween time! You will stir the pot while saying,

Letters, letters, in my stew. Pick a letter just for you!

A students will reach in and grab a letter. You can differentiate by having them name the letter, say the letter sound, or name something that begins with that letter. If you want to make it REALLY hard, you can have them try to guess the letter by feel before they take it out!

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This is probably not an activity you have room for in your classroom (and if you do, i’m jealous!), but it would be fun to do outside or in the gym.

Students will work together in small groups of 2-3 to form letters with their bodies! They can do this laying down or standing up, but some letters will be much easier laying down.

I hope these ideas were useful to you! These letter review activities are a bonus included in all of my Little Readers Whole Group Literacy units, but i’m also offering them as a blog exclusive FREEBIE here:

Letter Review Activities FREEBIE

You can also pin this post for later:

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