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Reading Lesson Idea: Word Sorts


Word sorts can be used for learning vocabulary in content area reading, or for discovering word patterns. The student sorts a list of words either by given categories or by relationships he must discover himself.

Adapted from Words Their Way by Donald R. Bear, Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, and Francine Johnston.

  • A list of pertinent new vocabulary words and some known words.
  • You may choose to write each word on a separate 3"x5" index card. The cards can later be put into a student word bank.
  • Give your student the list of words, and a list of categories, either written on separate cards, or at the top of a sheet of paper.
  • Have your student go through each word on the list and place the card, or write the word, under one of the categories.
  • Example:
    • Create word cards with the following words: tools, minerals, water, labor, machinery, trees, wildlife, factories, typewriters, power plants, buildings.
    • Write these categories for the student to use: Natural Resources, Human Resources, Man-made Resources
  • Alternatively, the student comes up with the categories after examining all the words on the list, then sorts them.
  • Example:
    • Create word cards for the following words: tab, gate, that, came, back, lake, lamp, cane, tractor, pail, hand, same, cab, rain.
    • Ask your student to identify the word patterns they see and then sort the words into those categories. In this example, long "a" and short "a" sounds would be a good choice.
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