Word Ladders- Strategy #48

Presented by Cindy Ponce


  • PreK- Grade 2
  • Grade 3-5
  • English Language Learners

Instructional Focus

  • Phonemic Awareness/ Phonics
  • Vocabulary
  • Spelling

What is word Ladders?

Word Ladders are games where students change one word into another through a series of steps, altering a single letter at each step. The goals is to use a few steps as possible to change the first word into the last word.
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How do we use Word Ladders?

Teachers use word ladders with small groups and with the whole class, depending of students Instructional level.

  1. Create the word ladder. Choosing a word from the spelling list or phonics lesson, and write clues for each word, trying to incorporate a combination of graphophonemic and semantic clues. A word ladder can vary from 5 to 15 word or more.
  2. Passout supplies- teachers often use whiteboards, and marking pens however, you can also use blank papers or paper with word ladders already drawn on them.
  3. Do the word ladder- Teachers read the clues they have prepared and have the students write the words. students take turns identifying the words and spelling them correctly. If necessary teacher provides additional clues and explains any unfamiliar word.
  4. Review the word- When the students have completed the word ladder, they reread the words and can talk about any that they had difficulty writing. They can also volunteer other words they can write using these letters.

When do we use Word Ladder?

Teachers use word ladders as part of phonics and spelling lessons and other word-study activities.
Word Ladders

Why so we use this instructional strategy?

Word ladder are a fun way for students to practice the phonics and spelling skills they're learning, and at the same time they are thinking about the meaning of the words.

Scaffold English Learners

Word ladders are an effective Instructional Strategy for English learners because teachers work directly with students, explaining unfamiliar words and concepts, and students have opportunity to learn phonics, spellings, and Vocabulary in a nonthreatening game like situation.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.3.3: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.2.E: Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).
CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.3.2.F: Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g. word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.