Making Words: A Montessori Spelling Activity

As part of its Language Arts component, the Global Explorers Club implements a fun and engaging spelling program called Making Words. Because the lessons are multilevel, hands-on, and mostly self-correcting, they make a great Montessori spelling activity. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to practice spelling and improve reading and vocabulary among your students, try a couple Making Words lessons for free today!

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What is Making Words?

Based on the work of Dr. Patricia Cunningham, Making Words is a hands-on phonemic awareness and spelling activity. Given a set of letters, students will create words by adding, moving, and re-arranging the letters. In the process of manipulating the letters and making words, children will explore sounds and spelling patterns in a way that is fun, engaging, and retainable.

Because it’s a multilevel activity, Making Words is a wonderful accompaniment to the Global Explorers Club, a family-style homeschool curriculum.  

How the Global Explorers Club Implements Making Words

Every country study in the Global Explorers program includes a Making Words activity. Typically, the puzzle word is related to something that corresponds to the unit study, either the folk tale, the virtue, or even a science topic.

If you’d like to incorporate even more Making Words lessons, I highly recommend checking out the following books:

  • PHONEMIC AWARENESS – Students are able to actively explore letter-sound correspondence when they move the letters around to make new words. They can see that changing just one letter will result in a completely new word, with a separate meaning.
  • BLENDS AND DIGRAPHS – Spelling words with blends and digraphs can be tricky. Making Words offers students the ability to practice making words with blends and digraphs by providing them a control of error. For each prompt, they will know exactly how many letters are needed to make the word. They’ll become more familiar with these letter combinations through repeated practice and exposure.
  • RHYMING WORDS – Since words that rhyme have the same ending sound, some can be used to reinforce simple spelling patterns with younger students. Older students can explore words that rhyme but have different spelling patterns.
  • SPELLING PATTERNS – As students move the letters around and make different words, they’ll begin to see spelling patterns emerge. Becoming aware of spelling patterns improves spelling. You can increase their familiarity with spelling patterns by sorting each lesson’s list of words and/or finding related words that follow the same patterns.
  • SPELLING RULES – It’s incredibly easy to pair spelling rules to Making Words lessons, either formally or informally.
  • PREFIXES AND SUFFIXES – Most larger words in the English language can be broken down into smaller parts, thereby making them easy to spell. Making Words offers children the chance to play around with prefixes and suffixes.
  • After the Making Words prompt, use each word in a sentence. Encourage children to then come up with their own sentences using the words as well. This will help strengthen both vocabulary and writing skills.
  • After making each word, a child may elect to record them in a notebook. This allows for many additional learning opportunities. You may challenge the child to search for words that follow the same spelling patterns as those they’ve written down, sort the words by spelling patterns, identify any homophones or homographs, and search for words with prefixes and suffixes.
  • Most importantly, keep Making Words activities fun! Each lesson should take no more than 10-15 minutes. Longer lessons may be split among several days. Revisit lessons as needed.

How to Play Making Words

Because it’s a multilevel activity, Making Words can be played with learners of all ages who have begun phonemic awareness and letter-sound correspondence activities. As students become more familiar with different letter-sound relationships, they’ll be able to move on to more challenging words.

Tools you’ll need

  • Moveable alphabet letters
  • Making Words activity sheets
  • Pencil (optional)
  • Notebook (optional)

How to play

  1. Gather all the letters in the puzzle word and make them available to your child.
  2. Next, follow the verbal prompts listed on the Making Words lesson sheet. If you have multiple children working together, you may have them take turns or simply divvy up the words among them. More experienced spellers should be given the more challenging words, while less experienced spellers can make the simpler words in each lesson. Alternatively, you may provide each child with their own set of letters and work through the lesson together.
  3. After each Making Words prompt, be sure to use each word in a sentence. This will help children distinguish between homophones and figure out the meaning of any unfamiliar words. Encourage them to use each word in a sentence as well.
  4. After your child has successfully made all the words on the list using the moveable letters, then challenge them to decipher the puzzle word. Offer hints as needed.
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How Does Montessori Teach Spelling?

Try a Making Words Lesson for Free

Want to give it a go? Here are two sample ‘Making Words’ lessons you can try at home with your children today!

Need a free set of moveable alphabet letters?

Download a free copy below and then cut the letters apart.