I want to give you our tip on how to teach spelling words (without really teaching it). Spelling words can be tricky, so I use a few tricks to help our kids memorize their words. Spelling skills are important and learning to spell is going to help your child in each grade level. It is the reason that I focus on helping them get off on the right foot, at a young age, by helping them to learn their Kindergarten Sight Words.
Many people say English spelling is the most difficult to understand, so getting them started earlier makes a big difference. When they can recognize their sight words, it can lead to the skill of spelling developing in their thoughts. Once they conquer the words in Kindergarten, they will start on spelling and vocabulary lists that are more difficult.
By the time they hit 2nd grade, their words will be harder, but it will come easier to them if they have a good foundation. The 2nd grade spelling list builds off of the 1st-grade spelling word lists. The 1st-grade list builds off of the Kindergarten words, and so on.
Not All Kids Learn The Same
People learn differently. Children learn differently. We can’t expect them to teach them the same way if they aren’t all learning in the same way. In my classroom, my goal was to explain concepts in multiple ways to give each child a chance to learn it. Some learn through hearing (audio), some through seeing (visual), and some through doing (kinesthetic).
Did you know that the majority of people are kinesthetic learners (or tactical learners) and learn through hands-on experiences, yet most often teachers either teach to their own style of learning or they teach by lecturing (audio) or by demonstrating (visual).
Once I had my own children, I knew that I wanted to figure out how each of our children learned, so I could teach them through their learning styles. Every week, when our kids bring home their list of spelling words, I try to think of ways to teach them.
We look for spelling patterns (such as finding certain sounds in words), we play spelling games (we even have our own Spelling Bee at home), the kids read and write the words. Yes, we do the “I say the word & you spell it for me” thing, but I wanted something that worked on top of that, something extra. I didn’t want to have to make them write it out 10 times a night, but I finally found something that worked.
How to teach spelling words without really teaching them
This ONE trick solved it. I tried it the first week and found instant success. I know that many spelling programs talk about repetition and this is a similar concept. This is the same trick that I used to teach our kids the spelling of our last name & our address and phone number.
How this spelling trick works:
Our kids have a set bedtime. I put our kids to bed at 7:00 (some of our kids go to bed at 8:00, depending on their age or what time they get home from practice) and they usually fall asleep soon after. In the meantime, they toss and turn, they sing, they talk (in their own rooms, alone). So, I knew that I could use this opportunity to add things for them to look at when lying in bed.
Write or type out their spelling words on a sheet of paper. Make it very neat and clean. Organize the words by spelling. If they are doing at and ate words, I have the at words in one column and the ate words in another column, on the same sheet of paper.
Take that paper and tape it on the wall, next to your child’s pillow (our kid’s beds are all close enough to walls to make this work.)
Pro Tip: I use painter’s tape to hold the sheet of paper against the wall, so it is easy to remove and swap out for the next week’s word list.
It looks like this when it is in their bedroom:
Even when I turn the lights out, I see our kids still looking at the words (the night-light in each child’s room provides enough light), so they probably read & re-read the words for at least 20 minutes every night.
Every Thursday, I quiz them using my fidget spinner spelling worksheets that we created. If they have any misspelled words on their sheet, they practice that word a few times. We’ll even do a few little spelling lessons (like 3-5 minutes each) on that word to see if we can find a way to remember it.
I do have one more thing that I do each week…
Another tip for teaching weekly spelling words: Record, Read, and Spell
- Use a phone to record yourself spelling the words out loud for your child.
- Point the camera at the spelling list of words and slowly go through them one at a time.
- You may need to re-write them so you are only showing ONE word at a time
- As you are looking at that word (recording that word), say the spelling word out loud.
- Spell the word slowly, still looking at the word.
- Say it again.
- Example: “Zip. Z-I-P. Zip” (The whole time that I am saying this, the camera is pointed to that one word).
- Then, if we are going anywhere, I let them listen to it and watch it in the car.
- A 10-minute ride to practice? Perfect.
- Do you drive them to school? Great. Let them watch/listen on the way.
- Morning of the test? Watch/listen during breakfast and while they are waiting to go to school.