If your child is in elementary school, chances are very good that you see a spelling list coming home each week. The school usually provides worksheets and assignments designed to organize practice on the words, but that may not be enough. If your child still seems to be struggling with spelling, tip the balance in favor of success with these additional ideas. They tap into other learning modalities, and many students have greater success when they use them. You can even try an experiment: Use different activities on different weeks for a bit and see which tests end up with better scores. You (and your student) may learn a lot about learning style and effective study strategies! The information will be invaluable down the road when preparing for tests in high school and college.
Important Reminder: Many people lose sight of an important fact. Spelling, as used in writing and on spelling tests, is a written task. For many students, oral practice just doesn’t do much good. If your student is still struggling in spite of lots of oral practice, it’s time to change the game plan. You’ll find more success and less frustration if you practice in the same manner (visual and kinesthetic) that the student will need to respond in school.
Rainbow Writing: Use a large piece of paper and copy the word in large print with a black marker. Allow the student to trace the letters again and again in different colors, creating a rainbow effect.
Ransom Note Spelling: Cut letters from old newspapers and magazines and glue them in place to spell the list words.
Yarn Spelling: Write the words in large letters on paper, then glue a strand of fuzzy yarn on the letters. Trace the yarn letters with a finger to continue practicing.
Use Your Computer: Practice typing the list words on a word processor.
Concrete Spelling: Use magnetic letters, alphabet cereal or macaroni, or other three dimensional letters to spell list words.
Try Word Shapes: Sometimes troublesome words can be cued using word shapes and letter boxes. Draw a box around each letter, using a tall box for tall letters like k and d, a short box for short letters like a and e, and a hanging-down box for letters with tails like p and y. The result will be a relatively unique outline for each word. Sometimes this outline can be a trigger to recall the spelling. It’s a good way to tell the difference between “where” and “were” for example.
Find Small Words Inside Big Ones: Help students with letter sequencing problems by looking for smaller, familiar words inside larger ones. For example, knowing that the word “bulletin” contains the word “bull” will help a child remember that there are 2 L’s in the word.
Want to practice online? Here are some sites that allow you to put in your own spelling list, then play games or make worksheets:
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