Learning to spell and thus the teaching of spelling should be part of an interwoven literacy curriculum, where creativity can sit alongside mechanics as partners not enemies.
Spelling has got to be one of the worst taught subjects in the primary curriculum. Just because a child can read well doesn’t mean they will be able to spell well. Spelling also is corrected without a reason why or a how to get better? Learning random spellings over a week for a spelling test will not aid developmental spelling. Best practice is to always use similar sounds and patterns to aid meaning and comprehension. Click here for the Sounds Write Lexicon. It is an amazing resource for teachers and parents.
Once several spelling patterns have been taught and played with, a recap week should take place before moving on (maybe twice a term in Australian schools for example, because it is normal to work on a 10 week term) Teaching children from an early age to recap, space their learning and use retrieval practice has huge educational benefits not just for spelling but all elements of the curriculum.
Here are 10 activities that are fun, quick to prep and will positively influence spelling.
1. Mixed Up Words – Use magnetic letters, tiles or cut up words to rearrange spelling words. This is a good strategy to use as children have to manipulate and re-sort the letters to build the word again. A multisensory approach to spelling positively helps all children. Make sure that words are put into sound groups.
For example cat would be /c a t/ 3 sounds.
say on the other hand is just 2 sounds /s ay/
chips is /ch i p s/ 4 sounds
ginger is /g i n g er/ 5 sounds
2. Sounds Sort – Group words by the sound pattern. The /j/ spelling pattern has quite a few ways to write it.
3. Roll, Read and Colour – Games such as Roll, Read and Colour are great at getting kids to practice the target sounds in known words. Roll the dice, say the sound and colour or stamp the word. An extension of this could be to say the sound that is on each numbered face, find a word card with that sound and add your own words to the grid. As you write the word say each sound e.g. /ginger/ /j i n j er/ – 5 sounds.
Click the link to get your free game!
4. Alphabetical Order. Most often than not there will not be a word for each letter; discussing the how and why words are placed, develops the ability to link spoken and written language. Putting words into alphabetical order and understanding the systematic nature of the alphabet helps children to understand that there are predictable relationships between the visual written symbols and the auditory sounds.
5. Sounds or Word Recognition Games – Our Roll A Monster Game similar to beetle is a fun way to practice sounds or word recognition. Shuffle the word cards and place them face up. Roll the dice and say the sound. Find a card and say the word. Draw your monster part. What will your monster look like? Click the link to get your free game and full instructions.
6. Play Known Games – Playing games already known can be a great choice for more reluctant learners. Playing games such as bingo, matching pairs and tic tac toe with spelling words is a fun way to sneak in some extra practice. We always use the whiteboard or some string to make a tic tac toe grid. Grab your free editable, printable bingo cards here!
7. Active Learning – Post it note words all over the house. Ask your child to retrieve words and make lists of words in patterns, as above. The words could then be added to sentences orally or with pencil and paper. So much active fun can be had from post it notes.
8. Sentence Sort – Already made up sentences containing spelling pattern words cut up for your child to rearrange. This helps to comprehend the spelling words too. Spelling is not just about phonemic awareness — spelling words correctly, is of course the goal. Children also have to understand what they are spelling and reading to truly succeed in literacy.
9. Say A Sentence – Place all your spelling words face up and take it in turns to grab a word, say the word and add to a sentence. Verbally recalling the word and putting the word into an oral sentence aids comprehension of the word and children do not get hung up on writing anything down. Speaking and listening skills are just as important as pencil and paper and should be practiced on a regular basis. Here are some of our sentences to get you started.
George likes ginger fudge
A giant badger drives an engine up a large hill.
I suggest, that the pigeon that just ate the gem will be sick.
10. Make Up A Story – Add as many spelling words to a couple of sentences to make up silly short stories. This goes a step further than the activity above as it is a couple of sentences instead of just 1.
Once sentences can be made orally, make up short sentences with spelling words and write them down and add pictures.
Think it, Say it, Write it!
Always, Always, Always have your child or student say the sounds as they write them.
Happy Spelling xx
This is part 2 of a series of posts on spelling. If you have liked this post please share and comment. Part 1 – Spelling Tests Don’t Work is the first post in this series.
Next up is RESOURCES, if you struggle to find the time or don’t know where to start, then the part 3 is for you!