S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G. How do you turn this core subject into a fun and refreshing part of your homeschool day? Try these fun ways to learn spelling words!
How to Teach Spelling
Everyone knows the importance of teaching reading, but is teaching spelling really necessary? Surely a child will learn how to spell simply by reading, right? Wrong.
Reading and spelling are two separate skills and activate different parts of the brain. Reading involves decoding letters into sounds–it’s a recognition game.
Spelling requires memory plus choices. The child’s mind thinks, “What are all the different ways to represent this sound? Which one should I choose?” In short, spelling is harder than reading. And it takes practice.
Don’t fret. There are many fun ways to learn to spell!
Take a Multi-Sensory Approach to Teaching Spelling Words
Spelling doesn’t have to be the paper-and-pencil, list-upon-list approach from your childhood. Teaching spelling can be much more lively–and effective–with a multi-sensory approach.
- Form words, don’t just write them. Use foam letters, sandpaper letters, refrigerator magnets, or Bananagrams to teach spelling words and assemble words piece by piece.
- Write words sandbox-style. Pour sand or grits onto a rimmed cookie sheet or sensory table. Have your child spell words like you would at the beach, finger in the sand.
- Use whiteboards, windows, or mirrors. Pencil and paper spelling test? Boring. Printing your spelling words with colorful dry-erase markers on a window? A blast!
Digital Options for Virtual Teaching of Spelling Words
Teaching spelling doesn’t have to be messy to be enjoyable. An array of apps and websites take the fuss out of teaching or reviewing this subject. In fact, using technology is one of the most fun ways to learn spelling words for kids who love to be online. Consider it “teacher-approved” screentime!
Many of these digital options are game-oriented, so this subject could soon become your child’s favorite. Imagine hearing, “Mom, could I please do my spelling now?”
For beginning spellers, you can choose the full curriculum route (like Spelling City), which includes lists, games, and assessments, or you can choose an app that supplements the lists you pick (such as Spelling Monster).
Older children who need spelling review may benefit from apps that allow customizable spelling lists and tests and games that aren’t as colorful and young. Check out A+ Spelling Test and SpellBoard.
How to Teach Spelling: Organic Practice
As a homeschooler, your teaching time is not limited by a bell. Why not take spelling practice out of the box and into the real world?
- Write letters and label pictures. Anytime your child writes a thank you note and asks for spelling help, that is practice. When he draws a picture of a dragon and a knight, have him label it.
- Make your home language-rich. For little ones, this may include labeling common items in the home: “chair,” “table,” “window.” Stick up letter refrigerator magnets. For older children, have a word of the week you keep on a centralized whiteboard for vocabulary and spelling practice. Play Scrabble or Bananagrams.
- Don’t forget the car. Any time you pay particular attention to the letters in a word, you are teaching spelling. Remember “The Alphabet Game” from those long car trips? (“Who can spot a ‘z’ on a road sign?”) Believe it or not, that reinforces spelling. For older children, try “Ghost.” You take turns adding letters, trying not to complete a word.
Different Ways to Test Learning of Spelling Words
How do you know your child is actually learning to spell? Traditional options include:
- Hear-Say. You say the word, and the child spells it aloud.
- Hear-Write. You say the word, and the child writes it down.
- Proofread. You give the child a sentence or sentences with misspelled words. Can she identify and correct them?
- Multiple Choice. You say a word (or provide a fill-in-the-blank sentence), and the child chooses the correct spelling.
Of course, with digital options, clever games, and practice can track your student’s progress and eliminate the need for formal testing.
And then there is the last, nearly foolproof method: a mama’s intuition. You know your child. You see what they write. You can tell when they are making progress or if certain words continue to trip them up.
Teaching Spelling Words
No one learns to spell perfectly overnight. It is a cumulative skill that takes practice and patience. But it need not be drudgery. Add some sparkle and zest to your spelling lesson, and watch your child’s confidence grow and enthusiasm soar!