Teaching Strategy | Activities to Learn Spellings
Maya, a Grade 1 student is back from school. Her homework for the day is to learn the spelling of 10 new vocabulary words that were taught in class today. She already has a dejected look on her face and dreads the evening time when her mother will sit with her and ask her to recite every word 10-15 times, until she memorizes it. And although she hasn’t said it aloud, she looks at her book and asks herself “Why do I have to learn spellings?”
Learning spellings isn’t an interesting task, and for most children it isn’t an easy task either. Most often, children are asked to say a spelling aloud multiple times, until they memorize it or sometimes, children are asked to write a word multiple times, until they memorize it. Either of the teaching methods is not interesting and can be burdensome.
The English language has 26 alphabets, that produce approx. 44 phonemes (sounds). This means that some letters produce more than one sound, for example the letter ‘c’ has the ‘k’ sound in “cat” and the “s” sound in “ceiling”. So while some words can be spelled through the phonic way, others require the use of different strategies for learning. Research also suggests that using only one strategy may not be sufficient and a combination of strategies is often required to achieve the objective. Read Effective Spelling Strategies.
In this post, we will be looking at some fun activities that you can use, to make the process of learning spellings slightly more interesting for students.
Each time you introduce a new word, analyze it to determine how it is similar to other words or different from other words and then place it in a Word Family. This process can help students see patterns and make connection between words and can aid the memorizing process.
Create different Word Family Charts/Folder. Each time a new word is introduced, compare it with the charts, determine where it fits and then write in on the chart.
Word Family – Rhyming Words: If in the first class you introduced the word “book”, and in the next class you introduced the word “look” or “brook”, you could list them under “book”, because all three words end with the same letters and make the same ending sound “ook”.
Word Family – Action Words: When you come across a word, stop and determine if it is an action word. If it is, then add it to the Action Word Family. At the end of the week, have students create a story using as many action words from the list as they can. The same strategy can be used for nouns, adverbs and adjectives.
Word Family – Hidden Words: When you come across a big word, have students read it to identify smaller words within the word, and highlight them. For example, the word “determine” includes the words “deter”, “term” and “mine”. Challenge students to find hidden words in long words.
Word Family – Same Sound Different Spelling: Create a list of words that have the same sound, but have different spelling and different meanings. For example, “right” and “write”.
Word Family – Silent Letters: Create a list of words that have one or more silent letters. For example, “knee”, “wrap”.
Another effective way to practice spelling is to use the words and make sentences. Select three or five random words each day and ask students to use them in sentences.You could encourage them to use the random words and create sentences that tell a story or maybe use a list of random rhyming words to create a silly rhyme.