If you’re looking for an easy and effective way to improve your child’s reading and spelling, try using word mapping worksheets.
It’s a little cringy to think about how I used to say this:
“Here you go. Your child need to memorize all these words.”
I used to tell parents this at Back to School night in September. You might have been taught to read by memorizing words too.
But the science of reading has helped teachers and parents everywhere learn better ways.
One of them is word mapping. This blog post goes through all the steps for how to map words and you’ll find word mapping worksheets, too!
What is word mapping?
Word mapping is just another name for phoneme-grapheme mapping. This means learners hear the sounds and then they write down the letters that spell that sound.
So it’s pretty much just spelling!
However, what makes word mapping more effective is the use of a graphic organizer. This makes word mapping more structured for learners.
At least 50% of readers need systematic and explicit instruction in order to read and write and word mapping achieves that.
What skills do children need for word mapping?
Before children can do word mapping, they need a number of skills.
Learners need to:
- print letters within a defined space
- name letters
- identify letter sounds
- have good phonemic awareness skills
Specifically, children need to be about to segment and isolate sounds with a word. Your child will not be ready to do word mapping without basic phonemic awareness skills.
And sadly, there is a lot of controversy on the internet about whether or not learning letter names is important. Yes, learning the alphabet is critical for being able to spell sounds.
Is word mapping the same as orthographic mapping?
No, word mapping is not the same as orthographic mapping. Orthographic mapping is a cognitive process where the brain has made the sound-letter connection and permanently stored words.
However, word mapping promotes orthographic mapping. It draws a learner’s attention to the individual phonemes in a word and the letters that spell those words.
According to David Kilpatrick, it can only take 1-5 repetitions of word mapping for a student to master a new word. However, with traditional sight word memorization, it can take hundreds of exposures.
How do I teach word mapping?
To teach word mapping, you really only need a pencil and paper.
These are the basic word mapping steps:
- Say the word aloud. Make sure the child does not see the written word.
- The child uses their fingers to tap each sound.
- The child announced the number of sounds.
- Next, you draw that number of lines on the piece of paper.
- Then you write the letter or letters that spell that sound on each line.
- Take time to discuss explicitly any unknown or tricky sound-spelling patterns.
- Rewrite the word.
Here’s what word mapping could look like:
- Adult: “Block. Say the word block.”
- Child: “Block.”
- Adult: “Tap the sounds in block.”
- Child: “/b/ /l/ /o/ /ck/.”
- Adult: “How many sounds was that?”
- Child: “Four sounds.”
- Adult: “Let’s draw four lines. Okay what letter spells the first sound /b/?”
- Child: “B.”
- Adult: “Okay write the letter b. Not what spells the next sound /l/”?
- Child: “L.”
- Adult: “Okay write the letter b. Not what spells the next sound /o/”?
- Child: “O.”
- Adult: “Good write o. Now what spells the last sound.”
- Child: “Is it k?”
- Adult: “Close. It is ck. After a short vowel at the end of a word, the letters ck spell /k/. /o/ was a short vowel in the word block.”
Free Word Mapping Worksheet
Now a lot of adults need more structure to do this process with their children or their students.
So I’ve got you covered. You can grab a free word mapping worksheet in the box below.
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This word mapping worksheet has four parts:
- a picture
- tapping dots to segment the sounds
- elkonin boxes to map the letters
- lines to write the word
This free word mapping worksheet also includes an answer key to help you identify each picture correctly.
Word Mapping Worksheets
If you need even more support, you’ll want to check out the Word Mapping Bundle or the individual worksheet packets listed below.
Each set comes complete with answer keys for these reasons:
- sometimes the pictures can be confusing.
- you might not know how to separate the sounds for each word.
- it’s best when you can say the word aloud for your child to hear.
Word Mapping CVC Worksheets
Learning to hear sounds and spell them in CVC words is the first step of phonics. Your child will separate words into three sounds and use three letters to spell those sounds.
The CVC words are arranged in word families in this CVC resource:
- ab, ad, ag, am, an, ap, at
- eb, ed, eg, em, en, et
- ib, im, ig, in, ip, it
- ob, om, od, op, ot, og
- ub, ud, ug, um, un, up, ut
There is also some mixed review which includes words with short a, e, i, o, and u. This mixed practice will give you a good indication of whether or not your child understands short vowel sounds.
Word Mapping CVCe Worksheets
Silent e has a lot of jobs. But the best-known job is to make a vowel long.
The CVCe rule differentiates many sound-spellings from CVC words. For example, think of the words rat and rate. That silent e shows the letter a is representing the long sound.
The CVCe words included in these worksheets are in these word families
- Long A: ace, age, ake, ale, ate, ame, ane, ape, ase, ave
- Long I: ice, ike, ile, ime, ide, ipe, ire, ite, ive
- Long O: ome, obe, ode, ole, ote, one, ose
- Long U: ute, ube, ule, use
Plus there are mixed review worksheets separated by long vowels a, i, o, and u and mixed review that includes several vowels.
Word Mapping Bossy R Worksheets
R-controlled vowels are sometimes called Bossy-R. This is because the r sound influences and changes the vowel sound like you hear in arm, for, and her.
Your child needs to understand that those two letters spell one sound. So they are just mapped in one box.
The r-controlled worksheets are arranged by these patterns:
- ar (3 pages)
- er (2 pages)
- ir (2 pages)
- or (2 pages)
- ur (2 pages)
- mixed review with three phonemes (6 pages)
- mixed review with four phonemes (3 pages)
The worksheets also include a few more nuanced rules that I explain in the answer keys:
- serve (silent e follows v at end of words)
- nurse (silent e follows s at the end of non-plural words)
- hammer (double the consonant in a two-syllable word when first vowel is short)
Your little learner will be so proud to understand rules that might be new to you! (Because we certainly were not taught this in school!)
Word Mapping Consonant Digraphs Worksheets
Digraphs can be tricky for children. Two letters can spell one sound?!
That’s why word mapping is so effective – it helps your child deeply understand the sound-letter correspondence.
The digraphs in these worksheets include:
- beginning ch (like chips)
- ending ch (like bench)
- beginning sh (like ship)
- ending sh (like wish)
- beginning th (like thin)
- ending th (like math)
- wh (like wheel)
- kn (like knot)
- ph (like phone and graph)
- qu (like queen)
- wr (like wrench)
- -ck (like duck)
Word Mapping Consonant Blends Worksheets
Beginning and ending blends can also be challenging for children. Ask a child:
“What sound do you hear at the beginning of clip?”
Chances are they could respond: “Cl.”
The truth is that it’s two separate sounds blended together. Two consonants represent different sounds but they are pronounced in a way that can make them harder to hear!
So practice is important. These are the blends included in the word mapping worksheets:
- bl, cl, fl, pl, sl (5 pages)
- br, cr, dr, fr, pr, gr, tr (6 pages)
- sc, sm, sk, sp, sn, st, sw (4 pages)
- beginning blends with bossy r (1 page)
- beginning blends with silent e (1 page)
- beginning blends mixed review ( 1 page)
- mixed l ending blends (1 page)
- ld, lf, lk, lt ending blends (3 pages)
- mp, nd, nt ending blends (3 pages)
- sk, st ending blends (2 pages)
- ft ending blend (1 page)
- ending blends mixed review (2 pages)
Word Mapping Vowel Teams and Diphthongs Worksheets
Like digraphs and blends, vowel teams and diphthongs have two letters representing one sound.
These can be challenging for children because sometimes there is no clear rule why one spelling is used over the other. Think of the words “need” and “bead.” Both have the long e sound and are spelled two different ways.
So word mapping is an effective way to build orthographic mapping for many words with a vowel team or diphthong.
These are the sound-spellings included with these worksheets:
- ai, ay (3 pages)
- ea, ee (8 pages)
- ie (1 page)
- oa & oe (3 pages)
- ow (long o – 1 page)
- ue & ui ( 1 page)
- au & aw (3 pages)
- oo/ew (3 pages)
- oi/oy (3 pages)
- ou/ow (3 pages)
- mixed review with 2 phonemes (3 pages)
- mixed review with 3 phonemes (5 pages)
- mixed review with 4 phonemes (3 pages)
How to Use Word Mapping Worksheets
For best results, you need to do this with your child. It’s not going to be effective if you use it as independent work.
Your child really needs to be able to hear the word aloud. Plus some of the pictures aren’t straightforward. So you can use the answer keys.
Here’s how to use the word mapping worksheets:
- Explain that focus skill found by the star with the I Can statement.
- Say the first word.
- Have your child tap the dots under each picture to segment, or separate, the sounds.
- Show your child how to spell each sound by tracing the letters in each of the boxes in the example.
- Then your child will write the word and read it aloud.
- Repeat with the remaining pictures.