Maximizing the Minutes {Word Study}

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If you're new to this series and starting here, I'm going to show you how I utilize the first few minutes of each instructional block to "pack in learning."  Today is all about Word Study.

To start each Word Study block, my focus is on vocabulary.  I don't want to just teach my student a new word and what it means, however.  I really want to get them THINKING about words - utilizing their schema and what they already know about words to THINK about words.

I find that my students do really well with this beginning the second half of second grade, so this is the perfect time to jump in and get started with it.  By that point, they've really built up their knowledge of parts of speech, synonyms/antonyms, and the elements they'll be asked to pull from.

So, again, this few minutes is a valuable spiral review as well as a time to build vocabulary - so much learning packed into 3 minutes!!
For this time, I use our Word SuperStars pack.  It has enough words for 40 weeks.  Here's how it works.

At the beginning of this block, we spend about three-minutes on the task for the day.  Each day's task is guiding students to discover the weekly mystery word while THINKING about words.

MONDAY: The students receive a clue telling them the part of speech and number of letters in the word.  Of course, there are LOTS of possibilities.  That's the point.  I let students work in groups of 2-3 so there is lots of discussion.  They make a list of all the words they can think of that could be the mystery word for the week.

TUESDAY: Next, students get a clue telling them the number of syllables in the word.  They can now eliminate some of their words and possibly go back and add others.

WEDNESDAY: The next clue gives a sentence that the word could be used in.  Again, this provides a context for the word and lets students rethink their choices.

THURSDAY:  Students are given a synonym or antonym for the word.  By now, their list should have dwindled down to just a couple of choices at most - hopefully they have a good idea as to which word is the mystery word!

FRIDAY:  Finally, students are given all of the letters (scrambled) that make the word.  They can now check to see if they were able to discover the mystery word for the week!

There are a couple of ways you could use this in your class room.  It could be printed out and a new clue posted each day (above).

Or, if you're a paper-saver like myself, we included one of those handy-dandy interactive table of contents that we love so much!  This lets me just pull it up on my board and click to that week's word super quickly.
As for the students, I have them record their answers in a journal where they can easily cross out, add to, and revise as the week goes along.

We also provide an organizer page that you could choose to use instead.

Then, a fun element that students love is that they can earn "tags" each week that they discover the correct word by Thursday!

These can be given as tags to wear on a chain.
Or as "stickers" to glue to the back pages of their journals.  I've done it both ways, and either way, the kids eat it up!

That's it!  3-minutes at the beginning of your Word Study block to squeeze in a ton of spiral review and vocabulary building!  I hope you've enjoyed this series.  I plan to start at a new blog series on Lesson Planning {The Smart Way} later this week, so I hope you'll be back to check that out!


  1. What a great idea! I love that you use the same word the whole week.


  2. I love this idea and am excited to try it out tomorrow with my class. I am always trying to find ways to expand my students vocabulary and this seems like such a fun and quick way to do that. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Mrs. Wiley
    @ Wiley Teaching

  3. Does this pack correspond to the words that you use in your differentiated spelling pack so that the vocab activities are using the same words they are practicing for spelling?

  4. I love this idea - I will definitely be purchasing your vocabulary pack! On an organizational note, do your students keep their vocabulary work (like in the picture above) in the same composition book as their spelling? Or how do you organize it? I look forward to hearing from you.


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