Word Mapping Activities for Kindergarten

Looking for word mapping activities for kindergarten to connect speech to print? Check out these teaching ideas and classroom strategies to connect phonemes to graphemes with hands-on activities. Perfect for kindergarten and first-grade students. Make sure to grab the free printable below to get started with word mapping in your classroom!

Word Mapping activities

This activity goes well with these Simply Kinder resources:

Check out all of the Science of Reading articles to support your instruction here!

Word Mapping Activities in Kindergarten

Word mapping or orthographic mappings is how students learn that each phoneme represents a sound. It helps move students from speech to print as they connect that sounds are also written letters. By providing hands-on activities that support word mapping students form a deeper connection with sounds and how they relate to reading/writing.

David Kilpatrick (2015) describes orthographic mapping as ‘the mental process we use to permanently store words for immediate, effortless retrieval. It is the process we use to take an unfamiliar printed word and turn it into an immediately recognisable word’.

Word mapping is an essential activity to support emerging readers. Keep reading for activities to incorporate this in your classroom!

Why word mapping?

Students need to build their word recognition to store words into their permanent memory so they can read by sight. Remember all words are sight words once students are reading fluently.

Read more about teaching decoding strategies for sight words here!

Word mapping is a physical way to represent letters & sounds to help build these connections in the brain.

How to teach word mapping?

Follow these suggestions for word mapping in your classroom:

  1. First, select a picture card and say the word aloud with students. Discuss the word including the means, how many sounds they hear, and any other observations they notice
  2. Next, segment the word into sounds (not letters) Tap it out together!
  3. Then, use manipulatives, whiteboard markers, or pencils to graph the word together into sounds
  4. After that, practice writing the word together and reading it!

Teacher note: Make sure that you are graphing sounds, not letters for example digraphs make one sound. Learn more about digraphs here!

Word mapping activities

Fun ways to teach word mapping

There are so many fun ways to teach word mapping in your classroom. Check out this list and make sure to share your ideas in the Simply Kinder teachers Facebook group here.

  • Use whiteboard sleeves for easy writing and erasing
  • Use bubble pops to help segment and pop the words
  • Playdough balls are a great manipulative to break apart while segmenting
  • Counters or linking cubes are other hands-on tools to use
  • Don’t forget to use fingers or fun pointers too

The video below is a great example of a teacher using word mapping/orthographic mapping in a whole group lesson. Notice how she spends time discussing each sound!

Word Mapping Bundle

Check out the Simply Kinder word mapping bundle here! Get everything you need to practice word mapping in your classroom with fun seasonal mats. Perfect for whole group, small group, centers, and more!

It includes:

  • 20 small group full-color mats with different pictures and themes to be used inside a dry erase pocket or sheet protector. Each mat has the students say the word, tap the word, map the word, graph the word, write the word, and reread what they wrote.
  • Each word mat has an accompanying center printable so students can do this activity independently.
  • Word maps are provided for both 4 and 5 sound words.

Also included is a set of 100 picture sound cards that…

  • set 1-50 are up to 4 sound words including common sound patterns for kindergarten including CVC, CVCe, digraphs (sh, th, ch, ck)
  • set 51-100 are up to 5 sound words including the above sounds and some blends and r-controlled vowels
  • are numbered 1-100. The sounds are sprinkled through all 100 cards. You can pick and choose what numbers you do. (You do not need to do 1-10, 11-20 because those may have sounds you have not taught yet).
Word Mapping

Free Word Mapping Printable:

Just enter your information below to get a free sample of the word mapping bundle. The Simply Kinder freebie fairy will fly that over to your inbox!

Word mapping
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