Word-le-ing Around

Like so many others on social media (at least my feeds), I have been participating in the Wordle craze. I like that I can only play once a day, that it is limited to 6 guesses, that the words are all 5 letters long and that the whole world is playing this one word each day. There is something about limitations that funnels my focus, and while my first guesses often seem fruitless, somehow I usually pull it out by guess 4 or 5.

The first graders in my classroom have been playing a math game called digit place. In this game, I think of a 2-digit number and students make guesses to determine what it is. With each guess I indicate whether there are correct digits and whether they are in the correct place. For example, if my number is 12 and students guess the number 27 I would put a 1 in the digit column to represent a correct digit (the 2) and a 0 in the place column to show that it is not in the correct place. Subsequent guesses narrow down the possibilities leading students to a correct response. At first there were lots of random guesses, but the class is becoming strategic and quite successful. (I’ve had third graders who played this game with much less strategy and success!).

We’ve been focusing on 4-letter words ending with a silent e in the last week, building word ladders and noticing how this e causes the other vowel to be a long vowel. Students are building their skills and getting better at changing just a single letter to make another word that fits the rules of this ladder. Today, I found myself thinking about Wordle, digit place, and word ladders…and decided to try my own version of Wordle–first grade style.

So…I introduced this new game to my students. I drew 4 lines to represent the 4 letters in the word I was thinking of. I grabbed a black, blue, and green white-board marker announcing that letters in black were not in the word, blue meant the letter was correct but in the wrong place, and green meant the letter was correct and in the right place. I wasn’t sure how this game would work out–or if it would even make sense to my students. But…it was great! Students loved this process–and caught right on. I could hear them telling each other whether a guess was a good one (“…we already know there is not an “s” or “h” in the word…) and the game definitely caught their attention. We played several rounds today…and I remembered to take a photo of the last one.

My social media involvement was put to good use in the classroom today. I love having a new engaging, educational, and no prep game in my back pocket for those few minutes that need filling from time to time. Wordle for first graders–and we don’t even need the internet!

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