My second grader is having a tough time with the spelling lists that are coming home this year. On each list there are a few that he just can’t memorize now matter how many times I make him write them! Are there other ways to get him to memorize tough words?
Even the best spellers get stumped by words now and then. Fortunately, there are some quite clever ways to practice the spelling of particularly tough words. If you want to avoid the typical (often boring) ways, try some more hands-on and exciting ideas:
- Nibble pretzels into letters to make the word.
- Use magnetic letters on the fridge (or a cookie sheet).
- Rainbow words- write the word in crayon while spelling aloud. Now trace in a 2nd color. Then, trace again with a third.
- Use long pieces of yarn to spell each letter of the word on the floor. Let your child walk each letter as she spells it.
- Write a few sentences for your child, spelling his tricky words wrong. Give him a red pen and tell him to be the teacher and find (and fix!) your mistakes!
- Close your eyes. Ask your child to spell the tough word into the palm of your hand with her finger. Can you guess it?
- Let him write the words with his fingers in a plate of sand, shaving cream, flour…
- Try "chunking" the word. (Break it into smaller, more manageable parts or syllables. For instance: "fam i ly")
- Find smaller words within a larger word. For instance with the word caterpillar : cat er pill ar
- Using 2 fingers, tap and chant the spelling of the word down your arm with your child.
- Make up silly clues. For instance if the word is "pirate", you could point out the "rat" in the middle of the word and create a sentence like: "There was a rat in the pirate ship."
- Label things in your house with word cards.
- If a few letters of a word are particularly difficult to remember, create a mnemonic aid by making a "sentence" of words that begin with those letters. For example:
* If the "UGH" is tricky in "laugh", you could use: "I would laugh if I saw Ugly Gorillas Hugging" as a reminder.
* If the U in “hurt” is tricky, try: “Are U hurt?” (emphasize the U.)
* If the OR is tricky in “author”, try: “Would you rather be the author OR the illustrator of a book?”
Do you have any other interesting ways to practice spelling words? If so share them here!
There is a whole chapter on Spelling in our book “365 Teacher Secrets for Parents: Fun Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Elementary School”. Check it out!
:) Cindy & Patti