Word Ladder

word ladder blog title

Are you looking for ways to improve your kids reading by developing their decoding and vocabulary skills ? I was in the same boat until I tried playing word ladder with my younger son. It was a game changer. He is now a much better reader and his fluency and vocabulary has improved a lot over the time.


So, what is a word ladder ? It’s a game where you begin with one word and then make a sequence of words by changing just one letter each time from the previous word. Each word in the sequence should be a proper english word. These are also commonly known as Ladder grams, Word Golf, and Step word.

It’s a great game for building decoding, spelling, phonics and vocabulary skills which are an essential skill for reading. When kids are replacing letters to make a new word they are examining the letter-sound relationship which is important to recognize familiar words quickly and to correctly pronounce the written words. This is an important skill in order to learn how to decode and spell correctly. The kids might think that they are playing a game but in fact they are developing their important reading skills in a fun way.

How to Play Word Ladder

You can have your kids play this game alone or in a pair. I generally like to play it with my kids.

  • Give your kids a starting word and an ending word.
  • Make sure the starting and ending words must be the same length (FLY and CRY, or SKIP and THAT)
  • Each player change one letter at a time, attempting to move from the starting word to the ending word.
  • As a rule, they can not change the order of the letters.
  • And each intermediate step must be a valid word.

For example, if your starting word is COLD and ending word is WARM, then you can do it as follows

  • WARM (change d – m )
  • WARD (change c – w )
  • CARD (change o – a )
  • CORD ( change l – r )
  • COLD
word ladder cold to warm

Here, is a list of words to get you started.

ideas for word ladder

Give it a try and I hope you will enjoy playing with your kids.

If you are looking for fun ways to practice spelling words then check out my other post here.

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Keep Learning !

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