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Word splash.

Word splash is a simple strategy that requires students to focus on vocabulary, identifying and articulating the links between aspects of their reading. There are many different ways to use the word splash idea and it can easily be adapted for a range of text types or learning contexts. It is basically a three step process: The teacher selects a number of words or phrases from (or related to) the text and 'splashes' them across a page. Each one needs a space of its own.

1. Students read the text from which the words are taken and draw connecting lines between words that are in some way linked. In this step they are creating a word web.

2. Students write on the linking lines to articulate the nature of the relationship between the words. In this step they are developing the word web into a concept map.

3. This strategy can also be used as a tuning in activity in which predicted links are created before the text is read.

Selecting the words:

Teachers must have read the text before creating the word splash and be very clear on the vocabulary that is important. Different words are used for different purposes. In the case of a fiction text, words might be character names, key locations (settings), significant events and main themes or concepts.

A key purpose of the word splash is to provide a scaffold for student thinking. They must ask, 'how are these two things related in the text?' and then 'how is this third element linked to previous connections?' The third step, labelling the connection, refines this thinking to ensure the link is succinctly explained. This stage is significantly more difficult than merely making the link. Placing arrow heads on the connecting lines gives a clear indication of the relationship and is an essential element to identify cause and effect. For example:

A careful look at a word splash that has been completed independently can quickly show gaps in comprehension, misconceptions or where there is a lack of the ability to record thinking. As such, the word splash becomes a valuable assessment tool.

The example shown is from the picture story book, Say Yes: A Story of Friendship, Fairness and a Vote for Hope, by Jennifer Castles and Paul Sedsen (2017).


* Instead of using pen and paper, give students a flash card of a word or phrase to hold. Students move around the room and identify their connections orally.

* Complete the task as a whole class with some students holding word cards while others match them up and explain their relationships.

* Use mind-mapping or flowchart computer programs such as Inspiration or iPad apps like Popplet to complete the word splash.


Castles, J., & Seden, P. (2017). Say yes: A story of friendship, fairness and a vote for hope. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.

Robyn English is the reviews editor for Practical Literacy: the early and primary years and principal at Rolling Hills Primary, Mooroolbark. Email:

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Author:English, Robyn
Publication:Practical Literacy
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2017
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