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Orton-Gillingham Word List Strategies


Here are some Orton-Gillingham lesson planning tips to get you started for the upcoming school year. Today, I’m blogging about how I use my words and sentences lists. This was one of the requested topics from a weeks back on my Facebook page. Hopefully seeing photos will help to give a better understanding.

After being a classroom teacher for 13 years, I am now a WAHM. I also travel to homes to deliver Orton-Gillingham instruction. Because I travel, I need to keep materials very organized. In preparation for a lesson, I’ll create my plans based on the previous lesson’s outcomes, and print out a words and sentences list. In this post, you’ll see that I’ve used lists from Level 2 OG.

After I introduce the new phonogram card or spelling skill, I usually will have my sand tray ready the child to trace the phonogram, and say its sound in the sand out loud.  Then, I take out the word list. This lesson was on the “kind, wild, old ghost” words.  I have the student read them out loud to me. I’m taking notes while I listen to them reading throughout this entire step. I have them use a tongue depressor as a place marker, or a highlighted place marker. Note: Put as much ownership on the student for every task. Do not do it for them. Remember: You’re building independence.

Then, I take out highlighters or colored pencils. I usually have my students do one of 3 things:

  1. Highlight the long or short vowel sound they hear as they read it out loud to me on a second read.
  2. Syllabicate a word and label each syllable type and vowels with diacritical marks.
  3. Find rhyming words by drawing a circle to one word, a connecting line to the rhyming word and then circling that. See the photo below from a different lesson.


Next I have the student read the sentences. We scoop phrases and add scooping marks under them to practice reading smoothly. Notice how I have my student highlight the long vowel, and add the long vowel symbol.  This lesson is also about the exception to the closed syllable rule. I REALLY wanted my students to grasp that, so we read each word out loud, they highlighted it, and labeled it.

Once we finish this part of the lesson, the word list is glued into their OG notebooks. Read my last post on What’s In My OG Notebook to see how I organize the notebook.

Using the word lists has several benefits:

  • The student has a copy of the words to keep and practice reading.
  • You can use the old lists to play review games or for fluency practice.
  • You can use them for multi-sensory learning by using highlighters, or colored pencils.
  • Use it for syllabication and rhyming practice. (These are both skills that dyslexic readers need lots of extra practice.)
This is just one of my strategies for helping to keep my students organized. You can view and/or purchase all of my words and sentences packs by clicking here.
They come in individual sets and in a bundled version.

I’d love to share a tool that will cut some of that lesson planning time down for you.

Word List Builder is a time-saving, web-based tool that is going to streamline the lesson planning process for you.

Since it’s all web-based…

  • You can use Word List Builder anywhere.
  • Try the mobile or desktop version.
  • No need to bog your hard drive with lots of files or clunky software that becomes outdated.
  • Updates to the site are done automatically for you.

What can you do with Word List Builder?

  • Search for words with a highly unique search engine by spelling patterns, syllable types and division and morphological patterns
  • Create folders to save the words you searched.
  • Export the words from a folder into a template: Create word lists, word cards, phrasing templates for fluency practice and games.
  • Adjust for font size, font type and formatting
  • Save the templates you create.
  • Print and use what you made right away!

In this part one tutorial video, I show you how to set up a folder and begin searching for words. I have a tutorial for Word List Builder Part Two and Word List Builder Part Three.

You can catch them on the Word List Builder site or on The Literacy Nest YouTube Channel.

Sign up for a 21-day FREE trial of Word List Builder. Simply create an account, login and you’re on your way!


Word List Builder login
Word List Builder login

Calling all Orton-Gillingham tutors and therapists! I have a directory of qualified educators on my site for parents to search. Join or search when you click on “Word List Builder” at the top. When you are there, click on   “Find A Tutor” or go HERE. You may register to enter your contact information in the directory for only $10 a year. Families may search the directory for free!

 Try Tutor Finder Directory!

A HUGE thank you for your continued support of me, my store and my website! It is greatly appreciated!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!


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  1. Hi Emily, thanks so much for sharing all of your wonderful OG ideas! I am currently a year into the OG training. I would love to have a copy of your phonogram progression. I also have a few other questions for you and was wondering if there is a way to correspond with you? Thank You, Michele michelenray@yahoo.com

  2. Hi Emily! I just love reading this! My son is severely dyslexic and as a teacher, this truly helpd me understand what he is doing and how he is learning! I am looking in to being trained.

  3. I love your blog! I received my certification in Basic OG last fall and use it with reading intervention students at my school. I would love a copy of your checklist, please. My email address is alli.sunshine114@gmail.com. Also, can you talk about your sand trays? Where did you get them? Where did you find black sand? Does the tray you use keep it from spilling pretty well?

  4. Thank you so much! The sand tray is from a Montessori supply store I found on Amazon. It came with the sand. I wrap two large rubber bands around it when I travel and that keeps it from spilling. I'll email the checklist to you tomorrow. Thanks for your interest!!

  5. Hi Emily,
    Thank you, your blog is inspiring. I have used OG for some time, but need some refreshing on some things. I was hoping to get a copy of your progression skills list. I really want to incorporate OG more this year with my special education students again. I would also like someone to bounce ideas off of from time to time. My email address is mdtaylor66@gmail.com.

  6. Hi Emily,
    I love your blog! I am trained in OG through MGH and would love a copy of your checklist. I'm mostly curious to see if it's similar to the one that I use (which I'm happy to share with you if you're interested). I'm also interested in knowing what you use for assessment. I have pre- and post- checklists for each level. While I use them and they certainly serve their purpose, I am interested in what other people are using. Perhaps this info is embedded in your blog somewhere, but I just thought I'd ask. Thank you! Annie ann_merullo@newton.k12.ma.us

  7. Hi Emily,
    What a find…through Pinterest…looking for words and phrases for OG 1:1. I would also love a copy of your checklist. I am a tutor and a Dyslexia Consultant trained in OG by a Fellow from the Orton Academy. Thank you for your darling artwork and practical information. So wonderful
    Thanks a bunch!
    Jan at… jrobards@marion-isd.org

  8. Hi, I have not been officially trained in OG, but I do have the resources. My question is how do you know what a student needs if OG materials are not leveled. I would really like to know how to use it properly. I just try to do the best I can. It is very overwhelming but I am not really suppose to let that be known. I need a lesson plan for each book and talk with a person that can explain how it works. I many of the OG resources. I would appreciate knowing how it works.

  9. Hi Emily! I was trained in OG through IMSE last fall. Would love a copy of your progression if you'd be willing to share. Just discovered (or rediscovered I think) your blog & I am anxious to spend some time this weekend reading through your OG posts & browsing your TPT store. Thank you for all your help with learning this 🙂

  10. Hi Emily! I love your ideas and matching the skill being taught with isolated words and sentences to practice fluency. I was trained by IMSE last summer. Would you mind sending me a copy of the phonogram progressions and the sentence/word list you use? Thank you and looking forward to more great ideas from your blog.
    My email: Kansell5@gmail.com

  11. Hi Emily! I was trained in Orton Gillingham about 15 years ago and used it as a remedial program with struggling readers. I am now tutoring and would love a copy of the phonogram progression and anything else you are willing to share. my email is bethahee@gmail.com

  12. Hi Emily!
    I am currently completing my practicum for my Orton Gillingham certification. I would love to see your progression and compare it to the progression I am following in order to make a decision about ordering your word lists, sentences and decodable passages. I am enjoying your blogs. Thank you for sharing them!

  13. Hi Emily – I am a reading specialist with an OG training through the Multi Sensory Institute. I love how you have this organized and explained. I would love a copy of your progression. I will be reading more of your posts! Thanks so much! maellen26@gmail.com

  14. Hi Emily. I am the reading specialist at my K-5 school and completed Level 1 OG training last summer through IMSE. I am hoping to complete level 2 this summer. What a wonderful blog you have created! I'd love to get involved with your FB group and get a copy of your progression as well.

  15. Hi! This is extremely helpful to me. I am a special education teacher in NJ and just completed the OG certification program through Fairleigh Dickinson University. I know this is an older post but if you do see this comment, I would love to see a copy of your phonogram progression! Thank you so much. My email address is lisalaviano16@gmail.com

  16. Hi Emily,
    I love your products and have purchased many through Teachers pay Teachers. I especially love the decodable stories. I am certified OG teacher though the Orton Academy and have been practicing for the last 5 years. I would love a copy of your checklist of phonograms and skills you follow to compare to my own progression.
    Thank you!

  17. Hi Emily,
    I trained this summer in OG through Friends Academy in Dartmouth, MA. I too would love a copy of these lists. I am currently teaching a 7th grader who just starting to build her skills in reading. We've covered closed syllables, diagraphs, blends, open syllables, silent-e.

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