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Making Spellings work for you

At school, children aren’t encouraged to speak during spelling tests – just write their words down! When learning spellings at home, children really need to know how to write, recognise and define their spelling words. Here are some great ideas for helping your child to practice spellings, based on some ideas by Amanda Morin at  

1. Use alphabet magnets or Scrabble tiles to spell out each word. It’s more fun than just writing them!


2. Word Builder. Write the word list on a piece of paper then cut the words apart into strips. Next, cut those words into letters. Can your child reconstruct the list from the pile of letters?


3. Sentence writer. Make sure to your child understands the words by using them in a sentence. Writing a word in context shows that they understand the definition and grammar of the spelling words.


4. Type the spelling words on the computer / tablet etc. Again, more fun than just writing them!

5. Create a set of spelling flashcards together.

Have your child write the spelling word in pencil on one side of a strip of card or paper.
They can trace the word in pen or marker to reinforce knowing the letters and the shape that the word makes when it’s spelled correctly.
Read the word together, turn the card over, write it again and flip to check accuracy.


6. Create a set of definition flashcards together.

Write the meaning of each spelling word on a strip of card or paper. Read or show the definition and ask for the word that goes with it.
Flip the card over and write the correct spelling word on the back.
Test understanding by asking your child to write the words on a separate piece of paper as they look at the card.


7. 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 type. If the word and definition match, the player keeps the cards. If not, put 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.


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 they know how to spell and use each word properly.


9.  Use the Spelling City website.  Parents can register for the free version and then 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 searches using your child’s spelling words.


11.  Write the word list in alphabetical order. This can be done either by writing them in alphabetical order or by using flashcards.


12.  Spelling List Paper Pass

Sit down with your child, two pencils and a piece of paper.
Tell them the spelling word you’ll be practicing and write the first letter of the word.
Pass the paper to them 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 the words and 'up the ante' by having them write the next two or three letters before passing the paper back to you.  If your child is feeling very confident, try backwards spelling! 


13. Let your child play with food! Can they etch a tricky spelling word in their mashed potato?


14. Use what’s around you. Your child could trace their spelling words in the washing up suds on the kitchen work surface. They could write the word in bubble bath or shower gel on the bottom of the bath before turning the taps on and washing them into their bath. Can they fit a spelling word on Dad’s face when he’s got shaving foam on? If the weather is good, use a paintbrush to trace the words in water on the patio or garden path - if it’s really hot, can they do the whole list before the first word evaporates?!


15.  Use old magazines or newspapers to find spelling words and cut them out. This can be an interesting demonstration of how many times words are used in everyday writing.


16. Wrong! Do a spelling test together with your child. Do all of yours wrong. Get them to correct your mistakes.