Multisensory Phonics Practice with Words Their Way: Supplemental Practice Program for Grades K-5

From renowned authors Donald Bear, Marcia Invernizzi, Francine Johnston, Shane Templeton, and Lori Helman, Words Their Way provides personalized phonics practice through hands-on and digital sorts. 

Students have fun with practice that reinforces their knowledge of phonology, sound-symbol association, morphology, and the 6 syllable types of English.

  • Multisensory, personalized practice
  • Easy to implement alongside any high-quality core ELA or foundational skills program 
  • Ready-to-go hands-on and digital resources 
  • Sound, letter, word, and writing sorts

Personalized Phonics Practice for Structured Literacy Classrooms

Words Their Way provides everything you need to give students extended phonics practice through a consistent word-sorting routine.


Personalized Instruction and Practice

The program personalizes word study instruction and practice based on the five developmental spelling stages, making it easy to meet students’ diverse learning needs and grow their literacy skills.


Engaging, Hands-on Word Study

Students actively explore, compare, and categorize word patterns and relationships through hands-on and interactive word sorts, helping them build true word knowledge (not rote memorization!).


Easy, Manageable Instructional Routine

Teachers only need 15 to 20 minutes per day to provide students with engaging, effective word study. Each lesson provides strategies to model the sort, practice it, and apply and assess learning.


Interactive Word Sorts and Digital Resources

Every lesson has an associated digital word sort where students can click-and-drag pictures, words, and/or spelling patterns. Printable games and other resources add extra practice options.

A Consistent Word Sorting Routine for Structured Literacy Classes

  • Emergent – Early Letter Name
  • Letter Name
  • Within Word Pattern
  • Syllables and Affixes
  • Derivational Relations

Sort 8, Beginning Sounds r, s


At this stage, the word study focus areas are: concept sorts, rhyming sorts, beginning sounds, letter recognition, ending sounds, and digraphs.


View Sample Lesson

Sort 9, Word Families -op, -ot, -og


At this stage, the word study focus areas are: beginning consonants, same vowel word families, digraphs and blends, mixed vowel word families, short vowels, preconsonantal nasals, r-influenced vowels, and contractions.


View Sample Lesson

Sort 31, Vowel Digraph oo


At this stage, the word study focus areas are: short and long vowels, other long vowel patterns, r- influenced vowels, diphthongs and other ambiguous vowels, complex consonant clusters, and homophones


View Sample Lesson

Sort 49, Suffixes -y, -ly, -ily


At this stage, the word study focus areas are: compound words, inflected endings, open and closed syllables, accented syllables, unaccented syllables, consonants, prefixes and suffixes, homophones, and homographs.


View Sample Lesson

Sort 30, Greek and Latin Elements cap, ped, corp


At this stage, the word study focus areas are: prefixes and suffixes, Greek and Latin roots, advanced spelling-meaning patterns, and prefix assimilation.


View Sample Lesson

Personalize Phonics Practice with Words Their Way

  • How the Program Personalizes Word Study
  • Fun and Engaging Word Study for Students
  • Easy and Manageable Word Study for Teachers
  • The 5-Day Weekly Word Study Routine
  • The 5 Developmental Spelling Stages

How the Program Personalizes Word Study

  • Developmental Spelling Stages
    Words Their Way Classroom offers a complete set of ready-to-use resources — lessons, sorts, and activities — for each of the five research-based stages of spelling, so teachers have everything needed to personalize word study based on each student’s developmental spelling stage.
  • Small-Group Instruction
    Students are grouped by developmental spelling stage so each student can get instruction and practice that matches their instructional needs. The program can also be used for whole-class and individual instruction.
  • Meeting Individual Needs
    Each lesson includes ideas for providing extra support (or challenge) for students who may need it, as well as strategies for supporting multilingual learners. The Implementation Guide provides additional tips for differentiating instruction according to individual student needs.

Fun and Engaging Word Study for Students

  • Hands-on Practice
    Each developmental spelling stage has an associated full-color, consumable Word Study Notebook (available in print or as a digital printable). These pages are designed so students can cut and paste words into sorting categories for hands-on practice.
  • Digital Interactivity
    Kids love digital interactivity! These online word sorts allow students to click-and-drag pictures, words, and spelling patterns, plus instantly check their work. There’s an Interactive Sort associated with each lesson.
  • Big Book of Rhymes
    Designed for students in earlier developmental spelling stages, the Big Book of Rhymes provides vividly illustrated poems that teachers can use to introduce the sort and grow students’ vocabulary.
  • Games and More
    Digital resources include printable word study games, picture and word cards, and more to give students additional support and practice.

Easy and Manageable Word Study for Teachers

  • Everything Needed for Word Study
    One of the greatest challenges to implementing word study in the elementary classroom is developing all the materials needed for effective word sorts. Words Their Way Classroom provides everything teachers need to deliver effective, personalized word study for all students in their classroom!
  • Easy, Step-by-Step Lessons
    The Teacher Resource Guide provides a simple and effective lesson plan for each sort. The guide includes objectives, routines, multilingual learner strategies, differentiated support, and assessment ideas.
  • Group Students
    The Qualitative Spelling Inventory helps teachers place students in their correct developmental stage of word study. Students then work in small groups based on their developmental spelling stage.
  • Monitor Progress
    Prebuilt spell checks can be used as a spelling pretest to assess prior knowledge, or as a posttest immediately following instruction.
  • Reinforce and Extend Core Instruction
    Words Their Way Classroom is an ideal complement to core ELA instruction! Use word study to give students additional practice with the phonics, vocabulary, and spelling skills learned in their core reading program.
  • Additional Teacher Resources
    The Implementation Guide provides teachers with helpful background and information about the program, along with strategies for implementing and managing the program in an elementary classroom.

The 5-Day Weekly Word Study Routine

  • 15-20 Minutes Per Day
    Teachers who use this 5-day routine only need about 15-20 minutes per day to provide students with engaging, effective word study.
  • Day 1: Introduce & Model
    On Day 1, teachers introduce vocabulary using a Big Book of Rhymes or a curated Word List, then model a picture, sound, or word sort for students.
  • Day 2: Practice the Sort
    On Day 2, students practice the sort and pattern using hands-on print and interactive digital sorts.
  • Day 3: Practice Writing Sorts
    On Day 3, teachers can use a writing sort to connect the pattern or skill to writing. Interactive digital writing sorts are also available!
  • Day 4: Word Hunts
    On Day 4, students can hunt for words and patterns in reading. Each Words Their Way Classroom lesson provides a digital Classroom Library book for word hunts!
  • Day 5: Word Sorting Games
    On Day 5, students can play engaging word sorting games. Teachers will find a printable PDF with a fun game included in the Teacher Resource Guide for each sort.

The 5 Developmental Spelling Stages

  • Five Research-Based Stages
    Words Their Way Classroom uses a developmental model that recognizes the synchronous nature of reading, writing, and spelling. The program personalizes instruction based on which stage students are at along the literacy continuum.
  • Emergent – Early Letter Name
    Students at this stage have an incomplete knowledge of the alphabet and may not use any sound-symbol correspondence.
  • Letter Name
    Students apply the alphabet literally or spell phonetically, representing most strong sounds and beginning consonants, but omitting silent letters and preconsonantal nasals.
  • Within Word Pattern
    Students correctly spell most single-syllable words with short vowels, and can recognize consonant digraphs and two-letter consonant blends.
  • Syllables and Affixes
    Students correctly spell long-vowel and high-frequency words, but may make errors at syllable juncture points and in unaccented syllables.
  • Derivational Relations
    At this stage, students spell most words correctly. They are growing their knowledge of vocabulary and spelling patterns of low-frequency, multisyllabic words derived from Greek and Latin roots.

Take a Closer Look at Words Their Way

Program Overview

Get a quick overview of Words Their Way Classroom

Teacher Resources

Explore teacher resources for word study

Student Resources

Explore student resources for word study

Personalized Phonics Practice – Hands-On & Digital

Savvas Realize - logo

The digital components of Words Their Way Classroom are all hosted on the award-winning Savvas Realize® digital platform. Realize integrates with a wide variety of digital tools and systems, such as Google Classroom, Canvas, Schoology, OneDrive, and many more!

Digital components include drag-and-drop word sorts with audio support, an interactive Teacher Resource Guide, printable PDFs of word lists and word study games, interactive spell checks, and more!

Word Study Resources for Educators

  • The Essential Elements of Word Study
  • Scope and Sequence
  • 10 Ways to Word Sort
  • On-Demand Webinar
  • Word Meaning and Word Study

Dr. Donald Bear: Word Study to Teach Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling

What does word study look like, and what does it take to provide explicit and differentiated word study instruction? Dr. Donald Bear explores the essential elements of word study in this free whitepaper.

Read the Whitepaper

Scope and Sequence for Grades K-5

See the full list of sorts for each developmental spelling stage for Words Their Way Classroom. Skills progress from simple to complex.

View the Scope and Sequence

10 Effective Word Sort Techniques

How many different ways can you word sort? This free guide shares 10 different ways to practice word study with your elementary students. Includes free word study resources to help you get started!

Get the Guide

Strengthening Phonics and Vocabulary with Word Study

Watch this free, one-hour webinar featuring award-winning author, professor, and literacy expert Donald Bear as he shares best practices, quick tips, and helpful resources for implementing word study in K-5 classrooms.

Watch the Webinar
Youtube Thumbnail Savvas Template WTW.png

Dr. Shane Templeton: The Critical Role of Word Meaning in Word Study

 In addition to spelling-to-sound and sound-to-spelling relationships, students need explicit instruction around the meaning of words. Learn how word study grows students’ knowledge of vocabulary, morphology, homophones, and homographs.

Read the Whitepaper

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