Guest blog: 10 Tips to help your child becoming a Super Speller
Here's a small taste of some ideas for enlivening the teaching of spelling.
English spelling is tricky. This is because we have 26 letters creating 44 phonemes (sounds) and there are about 144 different ways to spell these sounds. However, 85% of the English spelling system is predictable.
How a word looks
How a word sounds
What a word means in context
How a word feels as it’s written.
Effective spellers use a range of strategies in order to spell correctly:
Mnemonics – memory tricks e.g. “BECAUSE” – Billy Eats Custard And Uncle Sells Eggs, a piece of pie, separate has ‘a rat’ in it, necessary has onecollar and twosleeves
Hidden Words – look for a word hiding in a word e.g. there is a “hen” in “when”
Word Roots – study words and look at the meaning and structure e.g. “warrior” – “war”, “definite”, “finite” means finish or end
You could make a Word Web for words containing the same root e.g. tele-which means “far”
Word Families – Look for similarities and work out rules using words that your child already knows e.g. If you can spell “light” you can spell “night”, “tight”, “bright”, “flight”
Syllabification – listen to the word and break it into syllables e.g. “re mem ber”. Exaggerate how you say the word e.g. “Wed nes day”
Tricky Words – some words are difficult to learn so children will need to work out a strategy to help them remember e.g. “were” – link to word family “ere” as in “here”, “where”, “there”
“went” – point out there’s no “h” in it
“said” – mnemonic Sally Ann Is Dancing
It is always better if children can think of their own strategy as they’re more likely to remember the word.
Playing word games is an enjoyable way to learn to spell, build confidence and hopefully have some fun.
Words Within Words
This is a quick activity to get children looking and thinking about words.
What to do
For younger or less confident children use simpler words and look for small words in big words
For older and more confident children. Choose a long word – communicate for example.
Explore how many words can be made from the original word
You could make – action, amount, comet, meat, comic, came, team, coat
Make it competitive by setting a time limit.
Work together to see if you can complete the stairway as below. Any word will do as a starter or you could choose a theme e.g. clothes, cars, sport, food etc.
This game is played in pairs.
Begin with a word such as ‘car’.
The next person changes one letter e.g. ‘car’ could become ‘cat’
The first person changes ‘cat to ‘can’
This continues back and forth e.g. ‘can’ becomes ‘man’ etc
This is a good activity to use with spelling lists or particularly tricky words.
Write the words in a list from easiest to most challenging. Then create the pyramid by writing the easiest word at the top of the paper. Write the next word twice underneath and the third word three times underneath and so on until a pyramid is built. Seeing the words in a pattern helps to re-enforce the spelling as in the example below:
How many words can be made by using the letters in the central circle.
Only use the outer circle letters once in each word. See below for example:
From this group of letters you could make the following: boat, coat, goal, foal, float, etc
Speedy “Word Frames”
Write the first and last letters of a word with dashes to represent missing letters e.g. m _ _ t, p _ _ l, b _ _ t
Fill in gaps to make as many words as possible: e.g. meet, meat, melt, mint
Speedy “Ladder Game”
Draw a ladder
Write an initial letter on the first rung e.g. “t”
Write a 2 letter word on second step, 3 letter word on third step, 4 letter word on 4th step e.g. “t, to, tow, town”
To help children become more confident in using spelling strategies.
Hazel and Amanda have worked extensively as primary teachers and specialist literacy consultants for many years; training teachers, supporting schools and developing resources. They have collaborated on a wide range of projects including their book, Games, Ideas and Activities for Primary Literacy, which is packed full of interactive suggestions to support your child's literacy journey.
This content has been created by authors in their personal capacity. Any views, thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson.