Letters in Words

This game focuses on the number of letters in words and is all about speed!  It’s also a great game to practice spelling sight words.

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Common Core State Standards

NOTE:  This game can address the following Common Core Standards:  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.2.D, L.3.2.E, L.3.2.F, RF.K.3.D, RF.1.3.G, RF.2.3.F and RF.3.3.D

Magnetic Spinner

You’ll need one magnetic spinner* to play.

(If you haven’t read my full post on the winner spinner you won’t want to miss it!  It gives you a long list of game ideas that are so easy to run and super fun for the kids.  Check out the full post here.)

A child spins to land on a number.  The children then have 60 seconds to write as many words as they can that have that number of letters.

For example, if the spinner lands on 4.  The children write words with 4 letters for 60 seconds.  At the end of the 60 seconds, they tally points for each word that they have written correctly.

You can certainly extend the timer to 2 minutes if that best fits your group.

NOTE:  If you don’t have a magnetic spinner, you can print out the PDF activity sheets below at the bottom of this lesson.

Setting Up and Playing the Game:

I first draw a large circle on a magnetic whiteboard or chalkboard.  You can also do this on a Smart Board using the game spinner piece.  I divide the circle into 2, 4 or 8 sections.

circle for 2 numbers of letters in words    circle for 4 numbers of letters in words  circle for 8 numbers of letters in words

Beginner Writers

If I’m only working with very beginner writers, I divide the circle into two parts and write the numbers 2 and 3.  This way they can focus on writing 2 and 3 letter words.

For groups of all ages or only intermediate writers, I divide the circle into 4 sections and write the numbers 2-5 or 3-6.

2-5 letters in words  3-6 letters in words

Advanced Writers

For advanced writers, I divide the circle into 8 parts and number the sections, 2-9 or 3-10.

2-9 letters in words

I often give the children thematic books that pertain to the topic we’ve written about.  They are allowed to browse through the books to find more words to write.

students counting letters in words

At my camps, the children are typically divided into pairs.  I give each pair a small white board, black dry erase marker and a sock to serve as an eraser.  You can purchase a class pack on Amazon*.  I use the timer on my phone to set the 60 seconds.

 students list words--letters in words a student writes letters in words 

Smaller Groups

For smaller groups, you can divide a classroom whiteboard into 4 sections and have students take turns coming to the whiteboard to write their lists.

whiteboard--students write letters in words

We usually play this game until we’ve written a list for each number or the time allotted runs out!

If the spinner keeps landing on a number that we’ve already used, we just move it to a number that we haven’t played yet.

Print the Instructions

Here are the instructions for you to print out and use.

If you don’t have a magnetic spinner, you can print out the following PDFs as an alternative:

2, 3 and 4 Letter Words (Recommended for K-1st)

5, .6 and 7 Letter Words (Recommended for 2nd-3rd)

8, 9 and 10 Letter Words (Recommended for 4th-5th)

11, 12 and 13 Letter Words (For a fun challenge!)

Writing Prompts

We played this game after the following writing prompts:

Popping President-Fictional News Article

Gnome in a Pumpkin Patch-Fantasy

Calendar Page-Comic

Gumball Machine-Instructions

Festive Food-Personal Narrative

Candy Cane Ornament-Instructions


I’ve also used this game when teaching Spanish.  Over the course of the week, the children learn Spanish songs.  They have a printout of the songs in their binder or 3 ring folder.  They look through the songs to find 2, 3, 4 letter words etc. Here’s an example of one song that was in their binder and the children playing the game.