One of my struggles that I had with word work was trying to keep up. One, just keep up with ink and laminating. Two, changing them out each month and having to explain what to do in each one. So, that is when I took a look at what I was having them do and what I needed them to know. I wanted my word work stations to be meaningful and purposeful.
I need my students to read sight words, work on different levels of phonemic awareness and decode CVC words. I was creating way too much work for myself! I wanted to create activities that I could teach once and they would be able to do all year long...INDEPENDENTLY!
The first activity that my students do are CVC puzzles. There are so many ways that I can use this. I always, always, always...introduce activities in my small groups! We play it and practice it before it goes into a station. You can store the puzzle pieces many ways. I keep mine in these fabulous plastic crayon boxes from Wal-Mart. You can get them for about $1. You can keep them all in one, or you can put the three pieces in their own separate containers. It's up to you! If you do that, then I would suggest marking them somehow. Maybe with a colored dot on the back of the piece and the same colored dot on the container that you want it to go back in.
As we introduce a new vowel, I always go over all of the words/pictures that we will work on! I try to use them in my morning messages also. We say the picture name, listen for the beginning sound and then listen for the "chunk" at the end. For your on level and higher students, they could complete this on their own. For your students that still are struggling with decoding CVC words, I would maybe have another set of the puzzles and only cut the picture apart from the word and leave the word together. This activity doesn't really need a recording sheet. You could have them write the words they create on a magnadoodle or a dry erase board. It's ok to NOT have them have a piece of paper showing what they did. :-)
You can get the individual vowel sets or you can purchase the bundle in my TpT store.