Cookin’ Up Some Word Muffins! (creative guided reading & center ideas)


by Rachel Stepp

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If you are running out of creative ideas for working with struggling readers, it’s time to make word muffins!

With this activity, students will either work with you to practice phonemic sounds, or they will work independently with a specific list of words.

Student-Teacher Activity (or Guided Reading Lesson)


Muffin tin

Magnetic letters (ideally more than one set in various fonts)


1. Explain to your student that he or she will be combining special “letter ingredients” to create word muffins.

2. In this activity, you will be working on phonemic awareness and letter sounds. Display all of the magnetic letters so that the student can see them all at once. Then, say a word aloud and ask the student to spell it out with the letters.

3. If the student is struggling while trying to spell the word out, then help them sound it out by saying the word sound-by-sound.

4. After the student creates the word using the magnetic letters, put all of the letters for that word in one muffin cup. Yea! You have just created a word muffin!

5. Following that same procedure, allow your student to fill up the pan with words.

Student Solo Activity (or Center)

The procedure is similar if students are working independently to create word muffins.


1. First, create a list of scrambled words.

2. Prepare the word muffin tin by putting the letters for the scrambled words in each of the muffin cups. (So, each cup will hold the letters for a different word.)

3. Students will take all of the letters out of one cup at a time and try to unscramble them to form a word. If they are unaware of a word, they will need to sound it out.

4. You can ask your students to write down their unscrambled words on a piece of paper so that you can review their answers later.

TIP: You will find that it is probably necessary to have more than one set of magnetic letters to do this because sometimes letters repeat.

Another Magnetic Idea

If you simply want to work on your students’ spelling and phonemic awareness, you can use a metal cookie sheet as the base for magnetic letter work. It provides a nice solid surface on which the letters can be manipulated while still being controlled.

TIP: If your students are searching for letters to create words or to identify letter sounds, have them first organize all of the magnetic letters alphabetically. This will help them find the correct letter quickly. There is no need to waste time searching for letters! I usually do this by writing the alphabet on sentence strips and then having the students place the magnetic letters on the sentence strip before beginning their word work.

Children love the unique use of these kitchen items in the classroom. It’s a “yummy” way to encourage phonemic awareness and sight word mastery!

Looking for magnetic letters in different fonts and colors? Here’s a slew of ’em at

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience. We appreciate her great ideas!


1 Comment

Filed under Centers, Phonics, Reading, School Readiness, Spelling

One response to “Cookin’ Up Some Word Muffins! (creative guided reading & center ideas)

  1. peggy

    I am doing the Daily 5 in my classroom and one of the stations we do is word work. I am always looking for ideas to use at this station. What a great inexpensive one. I have my students make words with the magnetic letters already, but never thought about the muffin tin idea. It might be cute to give them a real muffin after they have completed the center and they could decorate with Apple Jack letters to create a word or their name.