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The WHY and HOW of Using Word Banks in Your Elementary Classroom



“How do you spell cow?”… “How do you spell horse?”… ”How do you spell barn?”…

If you’re a teacher, chances are you have spelled a LOT of words. You’ve probably said “Sound it out”, “Stretch it out”, “What sound do you hear first?”, and “What words do you know like that word?” until you thought you were going crazy! Kudos to you if you used those cues, but sometimes it is very, very, very helpful to have a word bank!

What are Word Banks?

Word banks are lists of commonly used words– sight words, everyday object names, spelling words, topical vocabulary words, and more. 

With little ones, use word banks that have pictures to match every word. With young writers, there is a good chance that if they can’t spell it, they might not be able to read it in a list of words. Pictures help them find the word and support them when they are illustrating.


Use this YEAR LONG Writing Center & Word Banks resource with everything you need to successfully and easily incorporate word banks into your classroom this year! This resource includes over 600 pages with kid-friendly pictures. The words included cover 60 different writing themes perfect for your kindergarten and first grade classrooms. With this set, you’ll be able to SUPER easily set up and update your activities throughout the entire school year.

This huge resource includes word banks and references pages to create individual word notebooks or class pictionary dictionaries to support all of your writers, no matter their level of learning!

Benefits of Using Word Banks

There are so many benefits of using word banks in elementary classrooms:

  • Inspires ideas for writing
  • Builds confidence of reluctant readers
  • Prevents frustration and overwhelm
  • Strengthens problem-solving skills
  • Encourages independent thinking
  • Develops vocabulary
  • Supports English Language Learners 


Also, kids and teachers alike love word banks!

Kids Love Word Banks! 

Word banks encourage kids to write new vocabulary words they may not have used before. They give kids the confidence to write words they could not spell on their own. They include words with phonics and spelling patterns you may not have introduced yet. 


Word banks allow them to begin editing their work by checking their spelling. Word banks also inspire students who struggle with getting started or writing more than one idea.

Teachers Love Word Banks! 

Word banks allow you to focus on your small group without leaving your independent kids flailing in the deep end of the writing pool. Providing word banks introduces kids to a strategy for checking the spelling of unknown words (like how I text myself to see if I am misspelling something).

How to Use Word Banks in Your Classroom

Here are some of the ways you can use word banks in your classroom:

  • Writing Center Display
  • Class Picture Dictionary
  • Student Notebooks
  • Anchor Charts
  • Labels

Writing Center Display

Setting up a new writing center has never been easier! Simply choose a topic for your little writers and add the matching word bank.


Attach the word banks to a bulletin board, put them inside clear plastic frames, or glue them on the outside of a folder.


If you want to add something special, you can dress up your center with decorations, pencils from the Dollar Spot, or cute papers. 

Students can use the word bank to inspire their writing.


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Class Picture Dictionary

Use word banks to create a class picture dictionary. Use a three-ring binder or menu cover to keep the dictionary together and preserve the pages from sticky fingers.


Students can reference the book when they are writing and need support in spelling or ideas.

You can keep your class picture dictionary at your writing center. You also may prefer to make several copies for your classroom so fewer students have to share!


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Student Notebooks

Make each child a notebook by gluing a cover on a spiral notebook.


As you teach new topics, children can glue the pages in their notebooks. These personal notebooks allow students to reference their word banks anytime they need to as they write.


Teacher Tip: Print word bank pages smaller to fit into student notebooks more easily.

Anchor Charts

Display a word bank page as part of your instruction. Children can refer to the pictures and vocabulary words on the anchor chart as they work.



You can also use the matching cards from the Year Long Word Banks Resource as labels or environmental print throughout your classroom! Grab a FREE Family Word Bank to try this out!


As you dive deeper into the adventure of helping your students grow, get excited about the power of word banks! Sit back and watch as your classroom transforms into a hub of exploration and possibility. Here’s to all the exciting learning that’s coming your way!

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Picture of Emily Yerty

Emily Yerty

I’m a teacher who believes in creating a classroom kids love and activities that keep them engaged all day!

2 Responses

  1. Hi! Love your idea for vocabulary with images. I wanted to know where did you take those images or clip art from.


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