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When you have limited wall space in your classroom, you have to be intentional on what goes up. It’s probably the most stressful part of planning a classroom, right? There are two things that I have on my wall that are an absolute. I have both a word wall and a sound wall in my kindergarten class. We used them every single day and were a huge asset to my classroom.


What’s the Difference?

A Word Wall

Word walls have been around for ages! There are so many ways you can use a word wall. Most teachers use it for high frequency words, thematic words, and subject words. It’s a great tool to use for students, especially for writing.

Sound walls have amazing benefits:

  • Vocabulary development-introduce and reinforce vocabulary words. Displaying high-frequency or thematic words in the classroom helps students expand their vocabulary. In addition, students better understand word meanings.
  • Reading Fluency-provides regular exposure to and interaction with the words. Word walls can improve reading fluency. Students become more familiar with these words, which helps them recognize them more quickly when reading.

Sound Wall

A sound wall is a more in-depth tool that enhances phonemic awareness, decoding skills, and spelling proficiency. Students visually and interactively connecting sounds to their corresponding letters or letter patterns. Most sound walls include mouth pictures to help students visually demonstrate how to form each sound.

Sound walls are a must because:

  • Phonemic Awareness-help students recognize and differentiate between the individual sounds as well as practicing sound manipulation.
  • Decoding-display the relationship between phonemes and their corresponding graphemes (letters or letter combinations). This visual aid helps students decode new words by connecting sounds to their written forms.
  • Spelling-common spelling patterns and phonetic rules help students understand how sounds are written. This knowledge is crucial for accurate spelling.

How to use both

There are huge benefits to using both a word wall and sound wall in your classroom. Use them separately as well as together.

Different students may benefit from different types of support. Sound walls can aid those struggling with decoding. On the other hand, word walls can support vocabulary and fluency for more advanced readers.

Both tools support multi-sensory learning by incorporating visual, auditory, and sometimes kinesthetic elements. Students can add words as they learn them, take cards to their desk to help with spelling, or sort them based on spelling pattern or initial sound.

Incorporating both word walls and sound walls in your classroom will provide a comprehensive approach to literacy, supporting your students in becoming confident and skilled readers and writers.

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