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Word Hunts

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 4 months ago


Cynthia Boles





Discussion of Word Hunts

Find That Word (example of Word Hunts)

Importance of Playful Instruction



Word Hunts


Becoming completely literate is dependent on automaticity so readers can concentrate their attention on comprehension. Designing a Word Study program that explicitly teaches students necessary skills and engages their interest and motivation to learn about how words work is a vital feature of any literacy program. Students need hands-on opportunities to manipulate word parts in a way that allows them to generalize beyond individual examples to entire groups of words that are spelled the same way. Word Hunts teach students to examine words so they can identify consistencies within our written language system (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, & Johnston, 2004).


Word Hunts are one way to focus spelling study on patterns within words. Teachers can base instruction on existing word knowledge by choosing words from texts their students are reading and then applying patterns from known words to unknown words (Griffith, P., Leavell J.,1995). They become more aware of how word patterns work and are able to apply their new understanding to unknown words. Research shows that students find word study through Word Hunts to be a positive and enjoyable experience (Elliott, J., Rietschel, K.,1999). Word Hunts are playful activities that capture children’s attention and motivate them to participate in learning a particular skill (Scully, P., Roberts, H.,2002). Activities that use words in games, connecting and manipulating them resourcefully, result in superior student learning (Richek, M.,2005). Word Hunts focus on the structure and meaning of words by turning children’s attention to spelling patterns and root words. When students look for words and patterns in novels and other texts, they test these principles and must make judgments about exceptions (Bloodgood. J., Pacifici, L.,2004).


Find That Word is one example of a Word Hunt. This strategy has students search their environment for words they are studying. Words may be found in independent reading novels, subject area texts, conversations, radio, television, or on the computer. When students read or hear one of the words used, they write down the sentence containing the word and bring it in to class to share. Find That Word significantly increases students’ awareness and appreciation for vocabulary words, and students get to see how words are used in different contexts. It also allows assessment opportunities for the teacher (Richek, M.,2005).


Research shows that using playful teaching makes learning more satisfying, and reading and writing become real, appealing, and authentic. Children who experience early literacy instruction through pleasurable activities are more motivated to grasp the challenging tasks associated with learning and are more likely to develop a life-long love of reading and writing (Scully, P., Roberts, H.,2002). A substantial body of research and literature supports using playful instruction. The belief is that play has a direct affect on children’s literacy development. Pert (as cited in Scully,P., Roberts, H.,2002) has emphasized the important connection between emotions and learning, proposing that a child’s learning increases when his emotions are engaged. A positive emotional state encourages attention; furthermore, attention is crucial for learning to occur and for knowledge to be retained.


Engaging children in wordplay activities, such as Word Hunts, is an essential strategy for boosting student vocabulary growth. Researchers often use the term word consciousness to describe a child’s interest in gathering new words and using them in their oral and written language. Several studies have shown the correlation between reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. Consequently, providing opportunities for children to play with words is important to enhancing their vocabulary, as well as increasing their comprehension (Barger, J.,2006).


Supplemental information can be found at: Developmental Spelling Theory, Spelling Stages, and Onset and Rhyme.






Barger, J. (2006). Building word consciousness. The Reading Teacher. 60(3), 279-281.


Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., Johnston, F. (2004). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction. (3rd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.


Bloodgood, J.W., Pacifici, L.C. (2004). Bringing word study to intermediate classrooms. The Reading Teacher. 58(3), 250-263.


Elliott, J., Rietschel, K. (1999). Word study: The effects of word study on students' application of spelling and phonics in their independent writing(Report No. CS216648). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED429301)


Griffith, P.L., Leavell, J.A. (1995). There isn’t much to say about spelling…or is there? Childhood Education. 72(2), 84-90.


Richek, M.A. (2005). Words are wonderful: Interactive, time-efficient strategies to teach meaning vocabulary. The Reading Teacher. 58(5), 414-423.


Scully, P., Roberts, H. (2002). Phonics, expository writing, and reading aloud: playful literacy in the primary grades. Early Childhood Education Journal. 30(2), 93-99.


External Links


KidBibs: Website that strengthens vocabulary through reading and exploring with a Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt.


Word Study Cards: Small group reading instruction using Word Study Cards.


Word Hunt Activities: Scholastic website that offers word hunt activities.


Word Wizard: Website that offers on-line word games.


International Reading Association: A professional organization for those involved in teaching reading to learners of all ages. Publications include several journals, books, brochures, and videos; all available for a fee.



Commentary By Maleesa Redish

Your page is very nice, I will actually be using some of the informaiton I got here so I was happy to have been assigned comentary on your page. I may be wrong but I tought that we were supposed to have five supplementary links to our classmates pages. Even if its not mandatory I think it would be an easy and effective way to give the users of your page access to a ton of related information very quickly. The other thing I noticed was that in your paragraph about That Word you forgot to leave a space between That Word and significantly. Other than that I loved it!


Commentary By Julie McGill

Nice work. You have taken the topic and broken it down into very consice and readable paragraphs.


I wondered if you had any research that mentioned onset and rhyme as a tool for word patterns? Maybe you could link to the onset and rhyme page for reference to word patterns. Also a link to the spelling stages page would be helpful.


I enjoyed reading your page. I should be able to use some of this information with my 3rd grade remideal readers to help them.



Commentary by Jeanice Lewis


Cynthia, you did an excellent job on your page. It is very beneficial to have the supplementary information at the bottom of the page. Maleesa and Julie pointed out some reliable changes that would make your page even better. You may also consider linking your main page back to the front or home page. I enjoyed reading the page and I will use some of the resources with my struggling readers.

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