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5 Ways to Simplify Word Sorting

Word sorting is a powerful instructional method but making it happen smoothly in the classroom can be a lot to manage!

So we put together some of our best tips for simplifying the management of word sorting.

Here are 5 tips to simplify word sorting:


Make your master word sort copies on bright yellow paper. Now you will never lose your master again, but it will still copy just fine!


Get organized so you don’t have to do much prep every week. If your school doesn’t order word sort copies in bulk like Emily’s school did (it was awesome!) here’s how Heidi handled the prep in her classroom.  She used a 6 pocket folder for each of her word sorting groups. In each folder, she’d put a sticky note with the group name and the number of students. Then she could prep 6 weeks of copies ahead of time and put one week in each pocket. (Bonus tip: get a parent helper to make and organize these copies for you!)


This one’s a gamechanger and you can read a whole post about this tip here. But in short, get a 64 count box of crayons (or bigger). Have each student pick a crayon, the more unique and obscure the color, the better. When students get a new weekly word sort, they draw lines on the back with their special color before they cut up the words. Now they can identify whether a word card on the floor belongs to them by looking at the color on the back!


Make sure students have everything they need for their word sorts in one spot. We like to use zippered pencil pouches to keep their special crayon (see tip 3), highlighters, weekly word sort, etc.


Help students learn the routines independently as soon as possible. We find that having a visual instruction plan for each of the word sort routines not only makes it easier for students to learn the routines, but it gives students something to reference if they need help without needing to interrupt the teacher doing small group lessons. Check out our word sort visual instruction posters here.

Want to try out our differentiated word sorts and a visual instruction plan?

We hope these tips will help you implement word sorting in your classroom without all the stress!

And if you’re ready for a DEEP DIVE into word sorting, check out our super popular blog post: A Teacher’s Guide to Words Their Way. It’s jam-packed with practical information for anyone implementing any word sorting program in the classroom!

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After a combined 14 years in 2nd grade, sisters Heidi & Emily are passionate about helping simplify life for other teachers!

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