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Word Hunts are used to enhance students’ vocabulary growth. Teachers ask students to look for words and patterns in reading materials based upon selected features. Word Hunts focus on the structure and meaning of words by turning students’ attention to spelling patterns and root words. 


Opportunities for students to work with words are important to enhancing students’ vocabularies, as well as increasing their comprehension. The Word Hunt strategy is a fun, versatile, and simple technique to improve students’ vocabulary. Use this strategy with the whole class, small groups, or individually. Word Hunts help students learn how words are used in different contexts. 

Create and use the strategy

  1. Introduce the book or topic to be read along with the specific word patterns of study; 
  2. Provide students with written material (i.e., newspapers, magazines, dictionaries, novels, and/or news articles on the internet).
  3. Model word hunting by using a portion of text copied onto chart paper, overhead transparencies, or a familiar book 
  4. Demonstrate how to locate words that fit the patterns under study and how to record those word into categories
  5. Ask the students to read and reread a text to find words that fit a particular pattern.
  6. Have students write down words they find that fit the desired patterns in journals or on charts.
  7. Ask student to form small groups and read the words they found aloud. 
  8. Have students check to see what new words they can add to their journals or charts.
  9. Ask students to find words that they can group together in categories.
  10. Record the words on chart paper for a whole-class display.

Further reading

Research Citations

Barger, J. (2006). Building word consciousness. The Reading Teacher. 60(3), 279-281. 

Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., Johnston, F. (2004). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction. (3rd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. 

Bloodgood, J.W., Pacifici, L.C. (2004). Bringing word study to intermediate classrooms. The Reading Teacher. 58(3), 250-263. 

Ivey, G., & Fisher, D. (2006). Creating Literacy-Rich Schools for Adolescents. menuitem.5d91564f4fe4548cdeb3ffdb62108a0c/ ?chapterMgmtId=329393cbc00d9010VgnVCM1000003d01a8c0RCRD