I’ve fallen in love with word links (also called word ladders, word golf, or doublets): games that change just one letter at a time to get to a completely different word. The game of word links were created by Lewis Carroll in 1877.

My son, although a very strong reader, did struggle with vocabulary as a first and second grader. There were so many words he simply has not encountered yet. Word ladders are a great way to practice reading, decoding, and encoding words. When my daughter was an early reader, these were a perfect challenge for her.

Practice spelling and vocabulary with CVC, CVCe, and blends word ladders.
Practice spelling and vocabulary with CVC, CVCe, and blends word ladders.

What is a Word Ladder?

Here’s a word ladder works: You are given two words. You must find words to bring them together, one step at a time, by changing just one letter each time. For these word ladders, there are definitions above each step (in my Billy Bee products, each step is a flower) to help the young reader. As students make the connections between words and also think in terms of words to meet the definition, they get plenty of practice spelling and reading!

Even adults may get a kick out of creating and practicing simple word links. It’s kind of like the “six degrees of separation” (except each of these beginning level word links have 3 and 4 steps between first word and last).

My first attempts to make word links included words from my son’s recent spelling lessons. As a result, they are somewhat all over the board: silent e, short and long vowels, longer words and shorter words. I like the flexibility to make the subsequent words longer or shorter, though, and I think these word links are particularly fun!

Because I wanted the word links to look like a maze or puzzle, rather than just a ladder going upward, I created the character of Freddy Frog. Freddy Frog is trying to get to his tadpole, his wife, and his home.

lily pad leap cover

Download Lily Pad Leap Word Ladders from the VIP Resource Library when you sign up to be a Line upon Line Learning VIP.

It was so much fun making these, that I decided to make some more. I have even revisited the concept a few times in the past few years. My oldest loves helping me create the word chains, and my daughters enjoy solving the puzzles.  It is good practice for them in nonsense words versus real words, as well as being vocabulary and spelling practice.

In the Billy Bee bundle, I have a bee and flower theme. We’re trying to get Billy Bee through all the tulips to get to the last flower. These Billy Bee themed Word Links are not free, but you can get the CVC, the CVCe, and the blends/digraphs word link products in a discounted BUNDLE.

Practice spelling and vocabulary with CVC, CVCe, and blends word ladders.
My daughter begged to practice spelling and vocabulary with CVC, CVCe, and blends word ladders.

Although some of them are probably most appropriate for first graders who are just learning to spell and read, they may be a fun review for second graders too. I have created CVC, CVCe, and blends and digraphs word ladders in this same spring-themed Billy Bee flower pages.

Get all of these are TPT or my Shop:

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