We’re back to school and back to spelling tests with all the moaning, groaning and whining and I’m sure the kids aren’t looking forward to them either! So if like us you dread getting the weekly spelling tests and find that the usual ‘look, cover, write’ method doesn’t do anything to help, then how about doing things a bit differently this week?
When I realised that the traditional ways of learning spellings weren’t working I wish I’d been quicker to decide to go our own way. We’ve put together a list of some of the ways we’ve tried to spice up spellings with a bit of multi-sensory fun which we hope might be useful or inspiring – so here goes!
1) Playdough, Plasticine, Clay, Saltdough, Theraputty
There are lots of fun things you can do with dough.
We wrote out the spellings and then copied the shapes with the clay. It’s best to mould the clay and give it a really good squidge as your little one makes the letters. They can lay them over the written shapes to check them but it’s also good to build them three dimensionally. We find this helps to really get the shapes in my little ones mind. You can also use cookie cutters, or use various tools to make imprints to form the letters. Play Dough Literacy
2) Bath letters, magnetic letters, scrabble tiles, Bananagrams or any letter toys.
Finding the letter and building the words moving the letters around to self-correct is all very helpful in reinforcing the learning of the words. You can play games putting the letters of the words mixed up and asking the child to find the word or put in the missing letter.
3) Shaving Foam, Mashpotatoes, Sand, Rice, Paint
Getting their fingers messy forming the letters in various substances is fun, don’t forget to wear old clothes!
4) Blow football, Racing, Trampoline, Hopscotch, Go-fishing spellings
We find that ‘doing’ tends to be more enjoyable than just sitting writing so if we can we often try to turn spellings into a physical activity. We chalk the spellings on the trampoline or path and then jump them out shouting out the letters as we go. On the trampoline here I’ve put the sounds we were working on in the middle in red, as all the words would contain these letters and then the rest of the letters from the spellings on the list around them, shorty then jumped or bounced on each letter calling out the sounds. She did them slowly at first then we tried to see how fast she could do them. ( you get quite chalky so old clothes may be needed!)
For the Blow football we wrote the letters on little scraps of paper and then each player had to get the correct letters in the correct order by blowing them through the goals. You can ‘suck-up’ the letters and transfer them into a pot etc if you’d rather.
The Race Game was to try and get both kids spellings done at he same time. We put the letters for their words on cards in 2 containers and had the chalk board in the garden. We arranged an obstacle course for each depending on ability and had separate starting points for each child. Our biggest kid had more complex spellings so we broke her’s down into syllables so it wasn’t too unfair and then we chalked the next word they needed to complete on the board blew the whistle and they raced to bring back the correct letters and arrange them in the correct order, lots of fun – some controversy!
For ‘Go Fish’ we made a fishing game with magnets and used that to fish for the correct letters – see our post: Phonic Fishing Fun !
We have also done spelling treasure hunts in the past. Each child has the words on their card and needs to run around inside or outdoors to collect all the letters and get them in the correct order.
5) Draw pictures, Rainbow Writing, Letter Pictures, Fun writing, Hangman
We find that the more colour and life we add to the words the easier they are to remember. We often take turns drawing a picture and the other person can write the word – or one of us writes the word and the other draws the correct picture. We also write down the letters and put the correct number of lines for each letter so my little speller can cross off each letter as she works out which goes where. We always make sure we know what the word means and can use it in context this also seems to help. We sometimes make up little stories for each word.
6) Writing on various surfaces with different frictions
Using a pencil on paper is great for creating friction which I’m told aids muscle memory and similar sensations are created by using chalk on a blackboard or crayons on paper over sandpaper. It doesn’t create as much friction but white boards and ‘magnadoodles’ are a great way to get information down quickly that we can change easily if we need to.
7) Sing it, dance it, Mnemonics and make the shapes with your body
We have lots of fun jumping around laughing making songs and rhymes – rude or silly ones tend to work best we find and we have also been known to try and balance in various letter shapes or lay on the ground to make shapes.
8) Water pistols, Squeezy bottles, Big paint brushes with water on the fence or path
On a hot sunny day who wants to sit inside learning spellings? Grab some buckets and ‘paint’ or squirt your spellings in the garden/park/beach; the sun dries it up and you can start all over again!
9) Building blocks, Lego Bricks and Minecraft
You can build your words using blocks either flat or in upright in three dimensions but creating the shapes of the letters with blocks is fun. You could use beads or other toys to make the letter shapes with. A note of caution if using Minecraft or Lego make sure your little adventurers are clear that they have to complete making the words BEFORE they wander off to explore and build other exciting things!
10) Spellings Apps online
There are various spelling apps available on-line but the one we have used is Spelling City which we found was ok; you can insert your spellings list and the kids can choose from a number of games and quizzes which help reinforce their learning – we quite like the Splat-N- Spell game. The kids did tend to get a bit bored with this and we wouldn’t use it every week but it was quite useful if you have the time to set it up and add the spellings but we found we wanted to then use pencil and paper afterwards.
So there you have it, our list so far I hope they might inspire you to have some spellings fun this week. We’ll still be inventing new ideas I suspect – maybe spelling ‘Tin Can Alley’ or some kind of nerf target game or maybe bake some edible spellings; we’ll post an update if we think of something that works!