Number one for English language teachers

Beginning reading and writing: learning words

Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary Type: Teaching notes

A selection of tips and activities to help you introduce words to children.

It is a short journey from letters to words. In order to introduce words, show pictures and words together and sound out the phonics.

E.G. /c/ /a/ /t/ = cat

Move you finger under each letter as you sound it. Remember not all languages are written in the same direction. Encourage the children to read with you.

Word building

Word tiles – get the children to make 26 letter tiles out of cardboard (old cereal boxes will do) by simply cutting out small squares and writing each letter on them. a

Each child has their letters spread out in front of them. Call out a word they have learnt e.g. cat and the first one to find the right tiles and put them in order must put their hand up. This encourages quick eye movement over the letters, recognition and letter combining.

Races – for fun you could challenge the children working in pairs or threes (to encourage cooperation and peer teaching) to make as many words as possible in a specified time.

As each child has their own letters, they can play with them at home or if they finish an activity early and see how many words they can make. Later they can move into building short sentences.


You can produce easy worksheets like this:

What animal?

Children fill in the gaps. If you can add a picture of the word too: it will make it all the more meaningful.

atc =gdo =npe =

Children unjumble the letters to make the word. You could also do this on the board with children coming up and doing the activity one at a time.

Word searches

These are good for children to recognise words within a jumble of other words. It makes them concentrate and ‘see’ words on the page. Children have to circle or colour the ten key words in the grid.


Children have to find the ten animal words in the box. You can either give them the ten words at the bottom to help them look. Or attach the pictures of the animals to the wordsearch.



Children look at the picture, have to remember the English word and then have to write the word – spelling correctly – to fit it into the crossword. This worksheet is also a good record of vocabulary for them to keep and refer to.


REMEMBER: Start early. Make it fun. Make it holistic. Encourage life-long skills.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • I appreciate both your explanations and your "tools of the trade". Perhaps because I am an internet dinosaur, or perhaps because I am a graduate living in rural France..
    Sousa, Get a life.
    Anonymous, the word is "conducive"

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  • I'm really disappointed. I signed in this site about 3 years ago and then I repeated the signature on the next year again. Then I got surprised when I noticed there was nothing new in the front. Then I stopped signing. Now, 3 years later, at the end of 2011, I decided to sign again thinking that some years after my last signature would probably bring new articles, new worksheet or new games. But this hasn't happened because, for a while, everything I am finding here, is old, there isn't anything new. The only section I have met new resources is CLIL and even so not so many. What a shame!!!!!

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  • conductive to children

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