Spelling can be fun!
How do you help your child learn to spell new words? How do you get them to remember the spelling, use it in their writing and remember what the word means?
There are many ways to help children improve their spelling. The key is to not only help them learn strategies to remember the spelling, but to also use the word in a sentence. Reading plays a huge role in learning to spell as it helps reinforce the spelling of words without the child even realizing. It is one of the best ways to help your child learn new vocabulary. Reading allows children to come across words they wouldn’t usually hear or use. Children will often try and figure out what the new vocabulary means by reading around the word or guessing what the word means. They may also try and use the new words they have learnt from reading in their writing. The more often a child uses a new word in their writing, the more likely they are to learn to spell the word and remember how to spell it.
How do children learn to spell?
Children can learn to spell words in different ways:
- by sounding out the word
- breaking the word up into syllables (No-vem-ber)
- learning to spell the word by sight
Your child might learn their spellings better if it is turned into a game. Teaching your child to spell in a fun way will encourage them to learn the words and remember them. I remember my parents teaching us spellings; they were keen that their six children should excel at spelling, as they did in their school days. A day at the nearby beach was often used to practise words. We would find a stick each and wander down to the hard wet sand and carve the words mum and dad suggested. In our younger days we would write our names, we would see who could write the biggest letters possible across the sand! Other times we pretended to be stranded and carve HELP in large letters. As we grew and spellings were an established homework, we would write the same word several times, and then we’d compete against the clock and each other; the sibling with the most correctly spelt words in the time given was the winner! We were lucky to have huge empty sandy beaches!
So, here are some quick fun games you can play to teach your child to spell: Take care to choose games that are relevant to your child’s age and needs, for example using a dictionary and the stairstep activity would be suitable for children in year two, three and four.
- Write the words in shaving foam/sand
- Write the words in rainbow colours
- Spell each word using scrabble letters, magnetic letters or cut out letters from magazine
- Challenge your child to find each word in a dictionary, you could even set a time limit and see who finishes first.
- Stairsteps: Write the words as if they are stairs, adding one letter at a time.
- Water painting; Use water and a paintbrush to water paint the spelling words. On a hot, sunny day, words disappear quickly—so spellers have to move fast!
- Pairs using spelling flashcards.
Write the words your child needs to learn onto cards. Each word will need to be written out twice i.e. 2 cards for each word. Mix the cards and place them face down on a table. Take it in turns to turns to cards over. Read the words on the cards. If they match, you keep them, if they don’t match turn them face down again. The person with the most pairs of words is the winner.
- Learn spellings by clapping them. You can clap each syllable e.g. app – le, break – fast, diff – er – ence
- Ask your child to create a word search using the spelling words they need to learn.
- Turn the words your child needs to learn into an anagram, can they rearrange the letters to spell the words e.g. rednfi = friend
- Spell and Eat: While making breakfast, lunch, or dinner, have your child spell a word, and after each word is spelled correctly, reward her with a small, healthy “treat” from your meal prep.
- Examine the Word: Really look at the words, talking about the tough parts and analysing patterns. Make up ways of remembering the ‘tough’ parts: ‘friend’ has an ‘I’ in the middle because I can be a friend!, OR big elephants can always understand small elephants is a good way to remember the word because.
With a computer and other electronics:
Type it Out: Open up a Word document and have your child type the spelling words on the screen as you call them out. Enlarge the font, colour it, and he’ll have a ball.
Spell on Tape: Have your child spell the words into a tape recorder or using the voice recorder on your phone or computer.
Video Record: Take a video of your child spelling the words. Have him put on a funny hat, dress-up, or use a silly prop to add to the fun.
How Do You Remember Spelling Words?
Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check
This is a method commonly used to help children learn and remember how to spell words.
|Look: Look at how the word is spelt.|
| Say: Look at the word and say it. Break the word into smaller chunks, e.g. ‘she’ to
sh / e
|Cover: Look at the word and say it. Cover the word, try and see it in your mind.|
|Write: Look at the word, say it, cover it and say it. Write the word without looking|
|Check: Cover the word and see if you can write it.|
You can test your child on the spellings they have learnt.
You can check to see if your child understands the meaning of a word by asking them to make a sentence (verbally or written) using the word, or by writing a sentence.
Finally, learn a few words each evening, leaving it to the night before the test is not a good idea! Spellings learned like this are often put into “short term memory” therefore are easily forgotten.
Learning how to spell words is one of the most useful lifelong skills and it builds the basic foundation that all children will need throughout their education and life in general.
I hope you find this article useful. You will find many of these activities and other suggestions on the following sites: