Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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A Division of the Arkansas Department of Education

Investigating Words

Word Maps

A word map is a graphic organizer that helps students visualize how words connect to one another.  
This Reading Rockets page gives the rationale for teaching word maps.  Blank templates are included, along with examples from different content areas.  There is a link to a teacher demonstration. gives examples of using a word map to introduce a new concept to students by relating it to what they already know.

Word Walls

A word wall is a visual collection of words, displayed on a wall or bulletin board.  It is an interactive tool for students to be used during writing and reading.  The words may be high frequency words, content words, academic words, etc.  The teacher uses the word wall to review previously taught words.
Reading Rockets explains the rationale for using word walls as well as how to use them. Links are provided for content examples.
Curriculum Services Canada offers ideas for using word walls in secondary classrooms.
Mrs. Dunkerly’s Hive gives a list of activities to be used with the word wall.
Read Write Think has a Strategy Guide for Using Word Walls to Develop and Maintain Academic Vocabulary. Tips are included for the planning and use of the word wall. Also included are links to explicit lesson plans for the different grade bands. 

Word Play

The term word play refers to the playful and clever use of words. 
Examples:  A bicycle can’t stand alone, it’s two-tired.  Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.  A boiled egg is hard to beat.
See the chart below for other types of word play, meanings, and examples.
Type of Word Play Meaning Example
Acronym an abbreviation made of a string of initial letters pronounced as a word GIF - Graphics Interchange Format
SONAR - SOund Navigation And Ranging
Anagram a word with its letters scrambled in a new order Astronomer = Moon starer
"Hamlet" by William Shakespeare is an anagram of "Amleth," a Danish prince.
Homophonic Puns created by substituting one word for a similar-sounding word A good pun is its own reword.
Initialisms distinguished from acronyms by the fact that the contituent letters are pronounced individually, rather than sequentially sounded as if they were a single word social-networking terms such as LOL ("laugh out loud") and ROTFL ("roll on the floor laughing")
Malapropisms misuse of one word for another by those too ignorant to recognize the error.  It's named after Mrs. Malaprop, a character in an eighteenth-century play who is notorious for such unwitting utterances. Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing says, "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons." (apprehended two suspicious persons)
Onomatopoeia (the term is from the Greek words for "make" and "name") are words that imitate sounds splash
Palindromes a word that reads the same forwards as it does backwards kayak
the names Anna or Bob
or a phrase such as don't nod
Portmanteau words created by combining two words and their meanings into one, were named and popularized by Lewis Carroll

slithy - from lithe and slimy

smog - from smoke and fog

brunch - from breakfast and lunch

Spoonerisms expressions in which initial letters, or sometimes entire syllables or words, are transposed John Lennon is credited with coining a variation on "Time heals all wounds": "Time wounds all heels."
There are many online sites for playing word games. Shockwave has several types of word games that can be played for free.  The games are also rated, so you can see which are fan favorites.
Another game site with multiple types of word games is
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