18 Things to do with a spelling list

I have always found that parents do not always know how best to support their children with homework, especially spellings. Therefore, in conjunction with my headteacher, and after much research on the internet, I came across '18 things to do with a spelling list'. I have adapted various aspects, tidied the resource up and have found that my parents now have a clear understanding of how they can help their children at home. The resource also has some interesting ideas that I have tried and tested in the classroom, making links with guided reading. Have you ever noticed that no matter how hard you try to help your child learn their spellings, they soon forget them, even when they have spelt them correctly in a spelling test? Children don't learn to become good spellers simply by learning lists of words off by heart, having weekly spelling tests, copying out spelling errors or by always sounding words out. 1 Spot the word Challenge your child to find the words on their list in other places around them, for example
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in a favourite reading book on a road sign on a sign, notice or poster in a magazine, newspaper, at the shops, comic or leaflet on television on the side of a cereal box

2 Make the word Encourage younger children to make the words on their list out of different materials. These could include:
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magnetic letters large letters torn from magazines or newspapers pipe cleaners

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plasticine felt letters real dough (bread or cookies - they can be eaten later!) playdough string

3 Word posters Challenge your child to write the words on their list using different writing materials. These could include: • • • • • • felt pens paints chalks sticks in sand different coloured pens joined together to create rainbow letters Your child could also write a new word in large bubble letters and then colour it in to form a poster. 4 Alphabetical order Ask your child to put the words on their spelling list into alphabetical order. You can help them by providing a copy of the alphabet or a simple dictionary. Increase the challenge by setting a time limit. 5 Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check Your child's school is likely to encourage the 'look-say-cover-write-check' routine for learning new words. When learning the spelling of a new word, your child will be asked to:

look at the new word very closely, spotting the shape of the word, the order of the letters, any smaller words contained within a larger word, familiar letter patterns, etc

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say the word quietly to themselves while they look at it cover the word or fold the paper back so that the word cannot be seen

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write the word from memory uncover the word and check to see if they are right

if they are wrong, your child can repeat the process. Encourage your child to use this method at home as well as at school. 6 Mnemonics Mnemonics are silly sentences that your child can make up and then learn to remind them of how to spell a difficult word. Here are some examples. • • Because - Big Elephants Can Always Use Sticky Envelopes. Necessary/successful - if your child can't remember how many Cs or Ss to use, remember this saying: One collar and two socks are necessary but you will need two collars and two socks to be successful. • • No English word can end in 'j'. This is a rule you must obey.' If your child confuses the spelling of 'rhyme' and 'rhythm', here is a mnemonic to help them remember which word has two Hs: Rhythm has your TWO Hips moving. Help your child to make up mnemonics for any words on their list that they are struggling with. They could then draw pictures to go with them. 7 Finding words within words Your child can remember how to spell words by spotting smaller words within them. This can be made even more helpful by making up a short sentence to help your child remember the spelling. For example • • • • address: add-ress - you must add your address secretary: secret-ary - a secretary keeps secrets parachute: para-chute - never separate a para from his parachute island: is-land - an island is land surrounded by water

Encourage your child to look closely at the words on their list and spot the smaller words that are hiding in them. Your child could mark the smaller words with bright highlighter pens. 8 Hidden words This is a game that you can prepare yourself. Write the words on your child's spelling list, hidden in a series of letters. Now that they are hidden, ask your child to find them. For example: • • • sfhplayknc - play qrubitpdh - bit nvzbikejfa -bike

Your child could circle the hidden words with coloured pens. To raise the challenge, you could set a time limit on the game. For example, how many words can you find in one minute? 9 Word snap Help your child to write each of the words on their spelling list on to a small piece of coloured card or paper. Make two sets of the words. Shuffle the words and then deal them out between you. Keeping the words face down, take it in turns to reveal one word at a time and place it on the table. When two of the same words are turned over, one after the other, the player who spots this shouts 'snap'. At the end of the game, the player with the most pairs of matching words is the winner. 10 Word collections Encourage your child to spot familiar letter patterns in the words on their spelling list and then to collect other words that contain the same letter pattern. For example, your child might have the word 'window' to learn. They might spot that it contains the letter pattern 'in'. They could then spot and collect words such as 'bin, din, dinner, fin, finger, pin, pint, tin, win' etc. They can find these other words by looking in the dictionary or by looking through magazines, newspapers or books. They could cut the words out of leaflets or junk mail and then stick them

onto a homemade poster. Alternatively they could highlight them with brightly coloured highlighter pens. 11 Silly sentences This activity can be great fun. Challenge your child to write a silly sentence, including as many of the words on their spelling list as possible. For example, your child may have to learn 'room took hoop foot book'. They could make up a silly sentence such as 'The boy took his book across the room but got his foot caught in a hoop'. Again they could draw illustrations to go with the sentences. 12 Word search Use your child's spelling list as the basis of a homemade word search. Draw a simple grid onto a plain piece of paper. Write the words on your child's spelling list into the spaces. Dot them about and write them across or down. If your child is older, you could also write them diagonally across the page. Avoid writing them backwards or bottom to top as this is in the opposite direction to what children would normally expect when reading. In all the remaining spaces, write letters at random. Provide your child with a brightly coloured pen and challenge them to find and circle all the words from their spelling list. C B A V Y F X 0 S B H U D O E E R S P K A 0 H M H R 0 A D S IS LE PE JG K N

13 `Shannon's Game' Use the words on your child's spelling list to play 'Shannon's Game' which is a more focused version of the game 'Hangman'. Without telling your child which one, choose one of the words on the list. Draw dashes onto a piece of paper, one dash for every letter in the word. With younger children, write the first letter of the word onto the first dash. Your child then has to guess the next letter - without looking at their list. If they are correct you write in the next letter. If they are incorrect, you draw the first part of the Hangman.

Your child has to guess the whole word, letter by letter, before you complete the drawing. For example the selected word is: school SCH Incorrect letters: t, y, a, e Reverse roles and let your child select a word while you guess the letters. 14 Crosswords If your child is in Year 4 or above, challenge them to produce a crossword puzzle, using the words on their spelling list. Provide them with a blank grid and a dictionary. This will help them to write the clues. You can then answer the crossword. When you have finished, ask your child to check that you are correct. Here is an example. Find: hear, shape, roads, see, book 15 Dictionary challenge Challenge your child to find all of their words in the dictionary. Use a picture dictionary for younger children and a junior dictionary for older children. You can vary the challenge by • • • setting a time limit - use a timer on a watch or an egg timer having a race between yourself and your child - who can find each word the fastest? asking your child to write out the dictionary meaning of their word.

16 Spelling number plates This game can be played when you are out in the car. Ask your child to take a copy of their spelling list on the journey. Check that their words have been spelt correctly. During your journey, your child has to spot the letters in their words on passing number plates. As they see each letter, they cross it out in their words. They have finished when they have crossed through all of the letters. Two or more people could play this game. Share the words between them. In this version, the

first person to have crossed out all their letters is the winner. (This game won't work for words that contain I, 0 or Z which don't appear on British number plates.) 17 Syllabification This is an activity that will help your child's spelling by teaching them a strategy to use. It works by splitting the words into parts, called syllables. Every syllable must have a vowel in it. You can check how many syllables a word has by clapping it out. Here are some examples. • • four-teen • when-e-ver tea-cher • card-i-gan

If the words on the spelling list contain more than one syllable your child can identify the different parts either by drawing a line between each syllable or by highlighting each syllable in a different colour. They could also cut the words into syllables and then try putting them back together. 18 Spelling Test This is a good activity to do once your child has worked on their list. Give your child a short spelling test. Ask them each word, one at a time. Say the word, repeat it in a short sentence and then say the word again. Allow your child time to write it down. Repeat this for each word. When your child has finished, check the spellings together. However, rather than marking the whole word right or wrong, mark each letter. When your child has attempted to spell a word, this method points out to them how much they already know. You tick every correct letter. Praise what is right to boost your child's confidence. Some helpful hints Children become spellers by becoming readers and writers. You can help by
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drawing attention to the initial sound and letter of your child's name encouraging your child to write labels for things reading with your child regularly

encouraging your child to write often. For example, they could write the shopping list, 'fill in' forms at the post office or bank and write letters, cards and postcards to family and friends

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providing an attractive range of pens and paper for your child to use letting your child see you write often and explaining what you are doing and why discussing words you are not sure of yourself - let your child know that there are words that you cannot spell either and show them how you try to remember them or check them. Let them see you using a dictionary or spellchecker. Children need to learn ways to spell unknown words and not feel that they have to be able to spell all words correctly.

You can help your child become familiar with a wider range of words by
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sharing skipping rhymes, nursery rhymes and poems telling jokes and riddles talking about things that you do together and recalling the day's events listening to and retelling stories making up silly rhyming strings such as: bee sea fee he key Lee me knee pea see tea we pointing out and discussing funny, interesting, long or unusual words that either of you spot playing word games such as Pelmanism, Scrabble and Boggle. Help your child become a confident speller in the following ways.

Encourage them to 'have a go' at spelling a new word. Only help if they ask you to. Encourage them to read through their writing and check for spelling errors. They need to develop a feel for whether a word looks right. They could underline words they are not sure of and then you could both check with a dictionary. Always praise your child for what they have written. Let them know that you are more interested in their message and the content of the writing than in their spelling. You don't want your child to feel that correct spelling is the most important aspect of their work.

Finally, remember that learning to spell is a gradual process and children need to go through this at their own pace. Doing any of these activities with your child will help them to develop into confident and capable spellers. Children learn best when they enjoy what they are doing and all of these activities are fun and lively. If you would like any further advice on how to help your child with their spelling, please contact your child's teacher who will be happy to help you.

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