Sorting words is a strategy used to reinforce skills, concepts or vocabulary by relating characteristics. Students recognize common relationships between sounds, word patterns, or vocabulary. Word Sorts in the classroom allow students to think critically and make connections.
Vacca and Vacca (1996) describe two forms of Word Sorts:
Word Sorts can be done in two ways:
• Closed Word Sort–The teacher provides the categories (and the specific features of each) to the students. The students then match the words with the features to create the word collections.
• Open Word Sort–The teacher provides only the list of words. Students work together to discern the common features and to describe the categories for collecting the word groups.
Sorts do not need to be restricted to words or just to reading. Try using them with grammar, vocabulary and meanings, math concepts, music, social studies and science. Sorts cards can also be used as flash cards as well.
Word Sorts can be made and used with any subject at any grade level. Most of the word sorts I've included are designed to be used with decoding skills and early literacy concepts. As you develop your own word sorts, share them with us. I'll include them on the website.