When I was growing up, spelling practice meant writing my spelling words five to ten times each, Monday through Thursday. On Friday, I took my spelling test. This was not the most engaging way to learn to spell, but it was the way things were done. This method didn’t work that great with my kids, though, so I tried other ways of practicing spelling words and came up with creative ideas that my kids and I actually enjoyed!
Making Spelling Fun
Spell it out. My younger daughter came up with this one on her own, when we were practicing word families. I looked down one day and saw that she had spelled “rat” with her snack of pretzel sticks. She kept going with other words in the “-at” family, and it became a fun way for her to practice what she was learning! You could do this with other snacks, Legos, or any other small items your kids could arrange into letters and words.
Apps and board games. There are several different apps for tablets or online games that will allow you to practice specific spelling lists or spelling in general. You can input your spelling lists into spellingcity.com, which allows for more traditional spelling practice as well as playing games with the spelling words. Words with Friends, WordFeud, and other apps also offer spelling practice for those who enjoy virtual word games (we only play with people we know!). Scrabble, Bananagrams, and similar board games offer more fun ways to play with words, and you can add rules that award bonus points for creating words on that week’s spelling list if you want to!
Different mediums. If your child really benefits from the repetition and motor memory that comes from writing spelling words over and over again, involve the senses even more by changing the medium that he uses to produce the words. Put shaving cream or rice on a cookie sheet and have him write the words there. Give her play dough or modeling clay and have her create the words in three dimensions. Experiment with using finger paints or writing with pens, markers, crayons, or colored pencils instead of a regular pencil.
Take it outside. Write the letters of the alphabet (not necessarily in order) on your driveway, patio, sidewalk, or carport with sidewalk chalk. Play hopscotch, Twister, or a game you make up using the spelling list. This provides movement for kinesthetic learners but is a great activity for everyone!
Rough it. For the learner who needs just a little more tactile stimulation, make a list of a few of the most troublesome words and write them on a piece of construction paper with glue. Then cover the glue with lots of glitter, sand, or something else that will make the word both raised and rough on the page. After the glue dries, have your child trace it with his finger again and again while saying the letters out loud. Sometimes just that little bit of extra sensation while tracing the word can help cement it in memory.
With a little creative thinking and some fun, spelling might become a subject you and your child really enjoy!