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Word Mapping

What does spelling have to do with being a good reader? Well, everything.

Better spelling leads to better writing.

(Berninger & Wolf, 2012; Moats & Foorman, 2004; Graham & Perrin, 2007; Graham & Santangelo, 2014)

Spelling knowledge facilitates vocabulary growth and speed of word recognition.

(Treiman, 2017)

Spelling is even more highly correlated with reading comprehension than word recognition.

(Mehta et al., 2005)

In order for students to spell accurately, they need to use phoneme-grapheme mapping. The process in the brain that allows sounds to be mapped onto spellings is called orthographic mapping. This is usually used most by students in second and third grade, however, it is not uncommon to use phoneme-grapheme mapping with students that are younger than this.

Understand that words should not be memorized as whole units but rather students should be taught how to decode all words. Remember that only 4% of words in English are truly irregular! The other 96% can be decoded.

Over time, as students' brains begin to orthographically map, words become permanently mapped onto their brains and become instantly recognizable without having to stop and decode them.


So, how does this word mapping happen and what is the role of the teacher in all of this?

If you'd like to know more about phoneme-grapheme mapping and how to incorporate it into your classroom, watch the virtual training below.


Using word mapping in your classroom doesn't have to be fancy!

If you're wanting to try out phoneme-grapheme mapping with your students, all your really need is a paper and pencil. When I started mapping with my students, we sat in a circle with a dry-erase board and marker. It's that simple.

Sometimes we used Elkonin boxes and other times we just drew lines for the sounds we heard in the word. The important part is that the students were able to segment the sounds and attach them to the correct spelling.

I have some simple word mapping sheets that you can easily use with your students that you can find in my freebie library! There are a few different options for this, so scroll through the pages and see what you prefer.

If you are looking for something with a little more pizzazz though...

I also have some winter-themed word mapping mats you can use!

There are 10 different winter designs, complete with a 3-sound, 4-sound, and 5-sound option for each design.

My students love to use these mats in a dry-erase pocket along with some colorful manipulatives and a marker. Occasionally I will even pull out a small snack that students can use to tap out sounds while working, such as in the picture below. It's so fun to watch the students work on the mats and enjoy the little snack at the end!

What's the deal with the 3 different sound choices?

It really just depends on if you'd like to limit the students to only working with words that have a certain amount of sounds or if you'd like them to only cover up the number of sounds they need.

For instance, if you were working with CVC words, you would use the 3-sound option. This would mean that all of the circles/pictures get covered up each time. Some words could be:

  • pat

  • tab

  • rag

  • sat

  • man

  • lad

Or if you wanted to work with sh words, you could use the 5-sound option and only use the number of sounds in each specific word. This would mean that not all of the circles/pictures get covered up each time. Some words could be:

  • wish

  • shutter

  • splash

  • bash

  • shin

  • shine

Below you can see the 10 different designs for these winter mapping maps:

Here is how the mats are broken down. The page is meant to be worked on from left to right. The left portion is where the student breaks down the word by first identifying the number of sounds with the creatures/circles. Then the student matches the sounds to the spelling in each of the separate Elkonin boxes (sound boxes). From there, the students move to the right side of the sheet and spell the word again, this time without the sound boxes. The students can then keep track of the words they've practiced and read them again at the end.

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