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If you’ve never heard of Word Ladders, let me open your world to a fun new phonics activity for your students. You can practice phoneme substitution, spelling, and vocabulary with Word Ladders. Students are engaged as they are encouraged to problem-solve to link new words together. Word Ladders also align with the science of reading and research about how children best learn to read.

Let’s climb into the wonders that are Word Ladders! ⤵️

What are Word Ladders?

A Word Ladder is a game to create a series of words by changing one letter each time.

For example: cat, bat, rat, ramham, hatmat, mancan.

This activity focuses on phoneme substitution: swapping one sound for another! Students usually write or build their words with magnetic letters to complete a Word Ladder.

Benefits of Playing Word Ladders

There are many benefits of playing Word Ladders!  Aside from the fact that students love to problem-solve and work to figure out the next word, Word Ladders:

  • Improve phonics skills.
  • Strengthen language skills.
  • Provide practice with visual recognition of letters and spelling.
  • Encourage problem-solving and critical thinking.
  • Help native English speakers and English Learners with language development.


Word Ladders are a power-packed activity that will help your students in endless ways.

What are Word Wigglers?

Word Wigglers were born when I decided to combine the concept of Word Ladders with whole-body movement! I created a game where students move every time they change the word, which keeps them even more engaged in the activity! We get to practice the same valuable skills with more focus and fun. It’s a win-win all around.

How to Play Word Wigglers

Because I 🫶 my educator friends, I created Word Wigglers to be no prep for teachers! All you have to do is choose your phonics skill and project the slides. If you can click a mouse, you can play Word Wigglers! There are also options for a matching worksheet that you can use as you play or as an assessment.

Here’s how the game works:

👀 Students look at each picture and decide what letter to change.

✍️ They write their words on a dry-erase board or the matching worksheet.

✅ They double-check their words and fix them up if needed.

🕺 Everyone does the fun movement together shown on the following slide.

♻️ Repeat each step until you’ve reached the end of the game!

Ready to play Word Wigglers?

Are you ready to get your Word Wiggles on?  Download your FREE Word Wiggler game below and get started strengthening your students’ phonics skills in a fun and engaging way! ⤵️

Get your FREE
Word Wigglers Game Now ⤵️

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    Word Wigglers in the Classroom

    As the academic requirements for our students increase with each passing year, adding movement in the classroom is vital for their engagement and wellness while learning.  To read more about the benefits of movement, click here.

    Word Wigglers add movement without any loss of instructional time. You can add Word Wigglers to your phonics lesson, morning meeting, reading warm-up, inside recess and more!  Children feel like they’re playing when they’re really learning. It’s like sneaking spinach into their chocolate milkshake! 😉

    Please pat yourself on the back, friend. You’re continually researching ways to strengthen your students’ academic skills while creating lasting, happy classroom memories. You truly are the best!

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    Emily Yerty

    Emily Yerty

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

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