Spelling can be fun! Maybe this seems obvious to other people, but it wasn’t always obvious to me.
I grew up memorizing a list of words, writing a test and then moving on to the next list. Sound familiar?
But what do you do when your kid just can’t seem to memorize ANY of the words?
Or maybe your child is like one of mine and remembers the words today, but has them all forgotten by tomorrow.
This can be so frustrating. I get it. One child just about cured me from teaching spellings ever again.
Upfront, I am going to fully admit that I am not an expert on learning challenges. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, because I don’t.
However, by coaching my children through their struggles, I have learned that memorizing lists is not very effective for some kids.
That’s why over the years I refused to give up on my kids and find out ways to help them learn.
Drop the fear
Fear and mom guilt are two of my greatest enemies. They seem to be lurking just around the corner.
When you are practicing the same thing over and over and not seeing results, it is hard not to give in to fear or even guilt.
What if my child never learns to spell? What if I bought the wrong curriculum? What if I fail my child by not being a good enough teacher?
Have you ever thought of any of those things?
You may have also asked yourself if it even matters nowadays with spell-check on every device?
I think spelling matters. How many times has your spell-check messed up?
And because you were in a hurry, you didn’t realize it until after you hit the send button and your message ended up saying something ridiculous.
The simple fact is that spelling still matters. It is a form of communication and a way of connecting with others. If you can’t spell, people will let you know.
One of my kiddos realized how important spelling was when he took an online class. All of the sudden, spelling was important. He didn’t want to appear stupid in front of his peers.
Make spelling fun
No matter what curriculum you use, how good the reviews are, or how effective it is for other children, it might not be a good fit for your child.
Don’t be a slave to the curriculum. Use it as a tool. Maybe your spelling curriculum is multi-sensory, but your child needs more practice.
Writing the words out five times and trying desperately to commit the words to memory is no fun.
Kids love to have fun. They connect learning with positive experiences. Spelling can be fun if you make a game of it.
The activities listed below can be used with any word list, with any curriculum, and for any child who is learning to spell.
In my experience, a child will let you know which activities are a hit and which are not.
Jump & Spell
This can be played indoors using cloth letters or flashcards and outdoors using sidewalk chalk on the driveway.
Spread or write the letters of the alphabet within jumping distance of each other.
To play: the parent calls out a spelling word and the child jumps from letter to letter while spelling the word.
You can help them out in the first few rounds. As they practice, muscle memory will help them remember how to spell the words.
This activity helps your kid practice their list of words by stamping them out. My kids love any excuse to pull out the stamps and ink.
If your child has issues with letter reversals, this will either help or frustrate you.
My 7-year-old kept flipping the stamp to make sure he had the correct stamp and found out that a “b” flipped over looks like a “d.” We had scrap paper on hand to practice stamps to help him make the right decisions.
Read it, Build it, Write it
You can download a free worksheet here to help your kids practice their spelling words. Laminate the mat or slip it in a reusable dry erase pocket.
This worksheet can be used with any word list. Print out as many copies as you need.
Read it: Place a flashcard in this section.
Build it: Use scrabble tiles, Bananagrams, letter magnets, or movable alphabets to build the word in letters.
Write it: Give the child a dry erase marker to practice writing the word.
Sound boxes are used for increasing phonemic awareness. By dividing words into sounds, you help the child by giving them the skill to fall back on when their memory fails them. You can get your free soundbox worksheets here.
Laminate the mats or slip them in reusable dry erase pockets before using them.
Each word is broken up into phonetic sounds. The word “day” has two phonetic sounds, “d” and “ay.” Truck has three phonetic sounds, “tr”, “ŭ”, and “ck.”
First, use little flat disks like those that come with All About Spelling, blank square tiles, or even dinky cars.
For each sound, have the child slide one disk per box per sound.
Once the child can break the word up by sounds, have the child write one sound per box as seen on the instruction sheet.
Are you a blogger with a blog post about spelling that you would like me to add? I would be more than happy to include it. Just send me an email with your link.
More free spelling activities and games
Scrabble Hack for Spelling Practice | Royal Baloo
LEGO Spelling | CreativeFamilyFun.net
Jump & Spell | 123Homeschool4Me
Dot Sticker Spelling Scramble | School Time Snippets
Roll and Spell | TeachersPayTeachers
Gumball Spelling Game | theMeasuredMom
Play Dough Letters Spelling Activity | The Letters of Literacy
Free Spelling Activities | Mrs. Winter’s Bliss
Elkonin Boxes (Sound Boxes) | Reading Rockets
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There is 1 comment
Great ideas! I especially like the stamp it suggestion. I tried teaching spelling as a separate “class” but we simply didn’t stick with it very long. We used all-in-one language arts curriculum when the kids were young and worked on spelling within the context of science, history, literature, or whatever as the kids got older. One of mine struggled with spelling, but eventually got there – practice and patience.