3 Hands-On Word Work Ideas for Kindergarten


Accomplish kindergarten word work Common Core standards with manipulative learning.

Playdough, magnets, and dry erase markers give kindergarten students the repeated practice they need to get proficient at segmenting, blending and substituting sounds at any position in a cvc word.

Word work won’t feel boring when you use manipulatives, it’ll feel more like play.

In kindergarten, we grow from:

  • basic phonemes to
  • blends and digraphs to
  • cvc and cvce words

as the main components in our word work skills.

Let me share how I use three hands-on tools or materials to make working on these skills interactive and meaningful.

1. Playdough

Kinders love using playdough. So, why not use that to your advantage?

We use playdough in our word work year-long literacy center.

kindergarten word work manipulative ideas - KindergartenWorks

The advantages are that you can work on just about any level of skill with a few manipluatives.

We always had:

  • playdough
  • playdough letter stampers (from Lakeshore)
  • playdough storage tubs
  • laminated workmats

The beauty was I could easily rotate out what workmats students were using to keep the center fresh and working on the word work skills I wanted them to use.

My kinders most often call our word work center, the playdough center, but don’t let that fool you. If any administrator comes through the door, they can plainly see we’re building, manipulating and learning about the way words work.

2. Dry-erase

Whiteboards are a classic choice for me to use in the classroom. I will often use small, tiny whiteboards to practice sight words or practice handwriting just because tiny is novel.

Using just a board and eraser loses its appeal by January for kinders so there are lots of other options.

Consider bringing in materials that have wipe-off surfaces – it’s perfect!

There are plastic sleeves designed to slip paper into – creating a workmat or background that are wipe-off marker friendly.

Teach - How to Write Sight Words Fluently - my kindergarteners could do this

Another example is well-laminated workmats or cards you are using elsewhere in the classroom.

In my small groups, we were working on substituting phonemes in the beginning, middle, and end of CVC words. So I brought out these laminated CVC cards.

Normally, they are used in the word work center with playdough letter stamps. But they hold up to dry erase markers as long as you don’t leave the marker on for extended periods of time.

kindergarten word work manipulative ideas - KindergartenWorks

I have sets of the cards bound together so everyone gets to work on their own. There is an appeal to working and flipping through a book. It feels different than the whiteboard.

3. Magnetic or manipulative letters

I highly recommend magnet letters in a variety of fonts and includes a mix of uppercase and lowercase.

These make great manipulative tools for working on a multitude of standards.

We had both magnets and velcro letters in our abc center.

kindergarten word work manipulative ideas - KindergartenWorks

You can see that I’m using the same CVC cards but with different manipulatives.

That’s because these cards will soon appear in our word work center as we are ready to practice them independently.

We started out the year using playdough as our main manipulative in small groups too.

I hope you find these manipulative ideas helpful and can try one next week!

If you like this post, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly just like this one.

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  1. Hello! I was just wondering where the CVC word/card books are from…I was trying to figure out if they are one of your products or if you purchased them!

    Thank you!

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