Word Sorts!

A little more than a year ago, I started on a crazy, wild journey with my colleagues.   We embarked on a word sort journey.  We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into when we started, but we are so glad we did!

Every classroom does their word sorts with their children slightly different.  Some are using them as a whole group lesson, some are using them during guided reading, and some are using them during Daily 5 time.  I do a combination of all three.

I’ve always done sorts with my kiddos, and we’ve always done them as a whole group. 





For kindergarten , this is absolutely the best way to introduce sorts.  We did our sorts whole group, in centers, and in guided reading groups until about January when I gave them more responsibility to do them on their own and also started differentiated each sort for each child.

….back to our “school journey.”  We did a book study with this book:

And then we started preparing our sorts.  Oh boy.  This was a process.  I’ve seen many classrooms just print the sorts and keep them in a file – the children then cut the sort out each week.  We decided that we didn’t want the children to have to spend time cutting their sorts.  So, we printed on cardstock, laminated and cut out each sort.  Often 4-6 sets of each sort.  Yes, this was a HUGE process. I have 3 drawers filled with sorts just like this.


In Kindergarten we also used this book that was recommended by my friend and mentor Kim Adsit:

Like I said before, it took me a long time to “let it go” and let children be responsible for their word sort learning.  It’s still a work in progress, but here is how we “do” sorts in my room.

Each child has a drawer with their name and a number on it.  IMG_8834

They keep the one sort that they are working on in their drawer in the labeled baggie.


They work on each sort over a period of 3 (or more) days.  Often it is a Daily 5 choice, but some will choose to work on their sort when they finished their first Daily 5 activity.  Let me tell you – they LOVE doing their sorts!!!  It’s a game to them!

Here are the 3 tasks that they need to do:


Task 1:  Sort and write.

I don’t have a special notebook that they use.  We use one composition book to record all of our language arts/guided reading work.  It just makes it so much easier for them (and me).  They’ve already had practice making 2 way or 3 way charts during our whole group experiences, so this is a breeze for them.  This particular sort is not a WTW sort, but one from my January Word Work pack.  It just shows a really nice example of how they set up their page.




Task 2: Sort and write sentences:

This sweetie recorded her initial sort and a sentence all on one page, but I encourage them to use the opposite page.



You can see on this one, that there are 3 lines drawn to the left of the sort.  That’s where she will write her sentences.


Task 3: Sort and write on iPad

THIS is what keeps them going!!  They are VERY excited to get to type their sort on the iPad!  AND they get to record themselves reading their sort! We use the app Educreations to record the sort.


How do they know which task to do?  Those numbers that are on their sort drawer….they move them down each time they finish a sort activity (after my approval, of course).  When their number is on the bottom drawer, I know that I need to put a new sort in their drawer.


Of course, I do the WTW assessment 2-3 times a year, but I really do know where they are at.  I want them to have a good, SOLID foundation in word work, so I don’t push them through the sorts too fast.  A big part of my job is to really to establish the routine of working through word sorts, so when they move up to 1st grade, there is not as much of a learning curve.

Like I said, it’s a work in progress, but so far so good!

Here’s the dealio – you’re probably doing word sorts in many different ways in your classroom – here are some other ways we are integrating word sorts:








I bet you can think of all sorts of ways you incorporate word sorts!

If you need some extra help in that department, you can obviously go the Words Their Way route or snatch up my Word Work packs.  I have made them to be super user friendly – and the basic activities stay the same each month. This makes it easy for YOU! The kids will know what to do!
{Here} is the link if you’re interested!

april word work 1

april word work 2

Happy Word Sorting!


  1. Kathleen, this was an AWESOME post!! Thank you so much for the super helpful tips on organizing word sorts!!!! I will definitely be adding sentences in to our weekly sorts...I'm ashamed we haven't been, haha! The iPad idea is brilliant! Thanks for all the awesome tips!

  2. I'm inspired!! I have the book - I'm going to see about getting other K teachers at my school on board.
    Thanks :)

  3. Hi Kathleen!
    Thank you for the wonderful pictures and how to organize this activity. Do each of your co-workers have the same system and do you share the picture cards or does each classroom have their own set? Are the picture cards from the first book or from Word Sort? I am hoping to take on this challenge soon! Also, did you color code each type of word sort?
    Many thanks!

  4. I love the Words Their Way book! I learned about it from my reading endorsement phonics class. There are great word sort ideas. I just wish I had time to do a lot of them, but I have my Title I groups for only 15-20 minutes, and I'm locked into using the Fundations program during that time. If I ever get a class of my own, I will definitely use word sorts!

  5. OMG! Seeing the pictures of your word sorts reminded me that I had made that spider sort for us!! I didn't even use it this year! You should have posted that pic in October to remind me! ha!
    I will reread your blogpost this summer as I am cutting out all of the WTW stuff! Nice post!

  6. I LOVE word sorts!! I love the iPad idea!!

  7. I LOVE WTW!! I have used it for a few years now. I also copied, laminated, and cut the sorts out. I have them in small drawers and the students find the sort they need. I also keep a menu of ideas for them in their folders. It impresses me every year when I get them organized enough to complete these on their own. Great post! I love seeing how others organize and manage their sorts!

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