If you’re like most parents, you spend a lot of time having your child recite her spelling words out loud to make sure she knows them. Interestingly enough, few children are required to spell their words out loud for a test. So why is that the way they practice spelling words at home?
What students really need to know is how to write, recognize and define their spelling words. Try a few new ways to practice spelling that are less like a spelling bee and more like spelling should be. You and your child can:
1. Create a set of flashcards. Have your child write her spelling word in pencil on one side an index card. There are some ways to use flashcards other than using them to quiz her. She can:
- Trace the word in pen or marker to reinforce knowing the letters and shape the word makes when it’s spelled correctly.
- Read the word, turn the card over, write it again and flip to check her accuracy.
2. Create a second set of flashcards with the definition of the word on it. If possible, use a different color index card then the first set.She can:
- Have you read or show her the definition and tell you the word that goes with it.
- Flip the card over and write the correct spelling word on the back.
- Test herself by writing the words on a separate piece of paper as she looks at the card.
3. Use both sets of flashcards to play spelling Memory.
- Arrange the flashcards in rows, face down on the table.
- Each player takes a turn to pick up a two cards, one of each color. If the word and definition match, the player keeps the cards. If not, she puts them back in the same place and it’s the next player’s turn.
- The players will have to remember the position of the cards in order to match them up. When all the cards are gone, the player with the most matches wins.
4. Use alphabet magnets or Scrabble tiles to spell out each word.
5. Write the word list on a piece of construction paper. Then cut the words apart into strips. Then, cut those words into letters and have your child reconstruct the list.
6. Write sentences for each word. Make sure to your child is using it in context to show that she understands the definition and part of speech her spelling words.
7. Type her spelling words on the computer. This will help to reinforce how to spell each words and help her recognize what the words will look like in a book or other reading material.
8. Write or type a story using all of her spelling words. The story doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, but it should show that she knows how to spell and use each word properly.
9. Use the Spelling City website. Parents can register for the free version and input your child’s spelling word lists. Your child can then play games and activities or take practice tests on the site.
10. Use Discovery Education’s puzzlemaker tool. You can create word searchs using your child’s spelling words.
11. Alphabetize the word list. This can be done either by writing them in alphabetical order or by using the flashcards.
12. Sit down with your child, two pencils and a piece of paper. Tell her the spelling word you’ll be practicing and write the first letter of the word. Pass the paper to her so she can add the next letter. You add the letter after that, repeating until the word is spelled.
You can do this with all of her words and up the ante by having her write the next two or three letters before passing the paper back to you.
13. Create Mad Libs only using the spelling words. You can either buy Mad Libs books for just this purpose or find them online at Wacky Web Tales.
14. Let your child play with her food. She can use a fork to trace her spelling words in her mashed potatoes or spell them out with alphabet cereal.
15. Use old magazines or newspapers to find spelling words and cut them out. It can be an interesting demonstration of how many times words are used in everyday writing.