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9 Ways to Spice Up Spelling Practice

9 Ways to Spice Up Spelling Practice

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Updated on Aug 22, 2014

The spelling bee is coming up, but your little learner can’t muster up much enthusiasm for mainstream methods. And if your child isn’t interested, she won’t retain the information she needs to be successful.

Let’s face it: Standard spelling practice isn’t particularly interesting to parents, either. So try something more stimulating for the whole family by creating fun activities as an alternative.

  • Sparkly Spelling. For a pretty princess, nothing is more important than a set of sparkling jewelry. Crafty kids and tactile learners will enjoy stringing alphabet beads on elastic or yarn to make a necklace or bracelet, spelling the words correctly as they go. Alternatively, stick spelling words on paper to create colorful collages children will enjoy decorating.
  • Sneaky Spelling. Study silent letters and sneaky sound blends—like “ck” and “ue”—by encouraging children to identify and highlight the tricky traps. In the word “blue,” for example, color the “ue” in a different, bright color to catch your kid’s attention and help her remember the correct spelling.
  • Sporty Spelling. Studying doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck inside. Get out and get moving with spelling aerobics. As kids shout the letters out, they must reach up high for tall letters like l, h and f, they put their hands on their hips for short letters like e, s and a, and they touch their toes for letters that dip below the writing line, like p, g and y. For even more fun, pull out the pompoms and shout each spelling like a cheerleader. Linking spelling with movement will help kinesthetic kids retain the information.
  • Scrabble Spelling. Make up new rules for the classic board game by using the letters to spell out words from your kid’s spelling word list. Take turns drawing letters until someone has enough to spell one of their words. This way, even if several kids have different lists to learn, they can all play together. Children with longer, more complicated words may need to be assigned more letters at the start—or pick up two per turn—so everyone has a chance to compete.
  • Tablets and Typing. Can’t drag your child away from her tablet? Don’t worry, there are apps available that can be customized with the word list of the week, so you can be sure she’s spending tablet time productively. Kids might also enjoy simply typing the words on the computer, improving their word processing skills as they spell.
  • Word Searches, Puzzles and Bingo. Create word searches, crossword puzzles and bingo games made of the target words will inspire children to study, providing a welcome relief from rote retention methods. While younger learners will appreciate simple crossword puzzles—like an app modeled on Montessori methods—older children can play too. Try reverse bingo, where kids must search for the correct word once the definition is called out. Find out more here.
  • Sand Spelling. Perfect for tactile learners, letting your child trace words in the sand with her finger is a great way to help her brain retain the spelling during a fun afternoon at the beach or sandbox. This method mimics part of the multi-sensory approach of the Fernald method, a tactile approach to spelling developed by educational psychologist Grace Fernald. At-home alternatives include shaving foam, flour, or even writing words in the bubbles at bath time.
  • Spelling Songs. If your child has trouble memorizing a spelling, help to cement the memory by singing a silly song incorporating the words—the more creative the better. Get her to join in by thinking of a silly way to fit the words to a favorite tune. You’re not just learning words; you’re creating fun family memories. And don’t worry, you don’t need to sound like Sinatra to make this successful—the most important part is having fun.
  • Speedy Spelling. Busy parents will love mealtime multi-tasking with suppertime spelling. Cook with alphabet pasta or potato shapes, and let your kid plate the food for each family member, spelling as she serves. Or combine cooking with spelling by using alphabet cookie cutters to create letter-shaped sandwiches and cookies. For younger kids, stamper sets are synonymous with a good time—and you’ll appreciate the speed of stamper spelling compared to young children’s snail-paced writing. If you’re always on the go, take spelling on the road by using a cookie sheet as a board for magnetic letters.

Next time your kid needs to practice her weekly words, whip out one of these fun methods to make spelling more satisfying for everyone.

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