Orthographic Mapping: What Elementary Teachers Need to Know in 2024

Orthographic mapping is another buzzword we are hearing from the Science of Reading. You may have questions, like a lot of us! What is it? Is it important for readers to know? How do I teach it? Well, look no further! Read below to learn more about Orthographic Mapping and its connection to the Science of Reading. 

What is Orthographic Mapping?

Orthographic Mapping is the connection between spelling sequences and the words we know. By mapping, we evoke the process of permanently storing words into long-term memory. 

What are the Three Components of Orthographic Mapping?

Orthographic mapping teaches students how to spell words from their memory, read by sight, and learn new vocabulary from print. 

Is Orthographic Mapping The Same As Decoding?

As decoding is looking at a word and tapping it out, orthographic mapping is the relation to spelling. When we do this, students visualize letters, learn words by sight through exposure, recognize patterns, and anchor words in brain storage. 

What Does Orthographic Mapping Look Like?

Orthographic mapping involves saying a word, finger spelling the sounds, and writing the letters that correspond with the sounds. Many times, teachers will use maps with boxes, each grapheme going into a box. For irregular words, students can identify which part of the word “breaks the rules”. 

Why is Orthographic Mapping Important?

When we orthographically map, we move words into our long-term memory! In doing this, we become more automatic and fluent in our reading and writing processes. 

Does Orthographic Mapping Support Phonological Awareness?

Absolutely! Orthographic mapping involves phonological awareness. When we map, we count the sounds. For example, the word “dog” has three sounds /d/, /o/, /g/. Students can identify the number of sounds, evoking sound-symbol correspondence when they write.  

Does Orthographic Mapping Support Visual Processing?

Yes! We are able to visually see the relationship between phonemes and graphemes in the mapping process. When we group the sound and letters of a word, we unitize them to become a sight word. 

How Does Orthographic Mapping Change the Way We Teach Sight Words?

By mapping sight words, students are learning the difference between regular and irregular words. This process allows irregular words to be broken down and studied. Heart words are a great way to map patterns and identify the irregularities of trick words. 

5 Orthographic Mapping Resources and Tools

Below are 5 orthographic mapping resources

1. Grab Your Mat!

Provide students with a mat containing boxes. This is where they can write the words. You’ll need either expo markers and erasers, or a writing tool. 

2. Get Hands-On

Have students use stones, counters, or chips to physically represent the sounds they hear. When tapping out a word, students can move one item for each sound. For example, the word “dog” would have 3 sounds: /d/ /o/ /g/. The word “them” would also have three sounds: /th/ /e/ /m/. 

3. Color the Words

Let’s color! Have students color word parts that make sense in green, while the irregularities in red. (ie. /th/ would be green and /ay/ would be red.) We can train our brains to recognize red letters as irregular!

4. Code the Words

Are there multiple syllables? Is the vowel short or long? Having students code words supports their deeper understanding! It also helps our brain to map these patterns more automatically, increasing our automaticity when reading!

5. Show and Share

Have students share their thoughts with you. A student truly knows, when they are able to explain it to someone else. You can have students sit in the teacher’s chair- how fun is this for our kiddos?!

In closing, we hope you found this information about orthographic mapping helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these other posts:

Share it: