Making big words

This instructional strategy requires students to use a given set of letters to make words. The teacher chooses one big word as a ‘mystery word’ and gives students the vowels and consonants that make up the word (in scrambled order). Students must create as many words as they can that are 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 or more letters long. The challenge can be to create as many total words as possible, as many 6-letter words as possible, etc. Students also try to find the ‘mystery word’ that uses all the letters.

I used this strategy often during practicum to provide extra phonics and spelling practice for the grade 6 extended students. The students worked individually on the activity, and they generally worked for 30-40 minutes before comparing words with classmates. It was an effective strategy for finding patterns in words and getting students actively involved in a manipulative spelling activity!



Cunningham PM, Hall DP, Heggie T. (2001). Making big words: multilevel, hands-on spelling and phonics activities. New York, NY: Good Apple.

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