B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. Beautiful. That's the word that cost me the 4th grade Spelling Bee. We all have our fond (traumatizing) memories about taking spelling tests and learning vocabulary words in elementary school. If you now have your own children in school and need refreshing, creative ways to practice spelling words, keep reading for 10 fun and easy ideas.
Before sitting down with your child and having them write down their spelling words on a piece of paper over and over corporal-punishment-style, it might be helpful to first figure out your child's preferred learning style. Educational theorist Neil Fleming came up with four basic learning styles that most children broadly fall into. They are: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.
Children that favor visual learning enjoy using images and graphic organizers to understand new information. Auditory learners do well in lectures, where they can listen to information be explained, and group discussions, where they can express their thoughts out loud. Those that use reading/writing to learn prefer note-taking and reading directions, so they may actually enjoy writing their spelling words over and over. Kinesthetic learners are tactile learners, they need to touch things and move around to understand how something works.
1. Word unscramble: Write your child's spelling words with the letters mixed up for each word. For an extra challenge, write each letter in a different color. Have your child unscramble the letters to spell the word correctly.
2. Magazine letters: Go through old magazines and cut out individual letters, have fun with different sizes and fonts, for your child to use to spell out their word list. You can spell them out on a table, on the floor, or glue them onto a large piece of construction paper.
3. Tone spelling: Have your child spell their words out loud while saying each letter in a different tone. They can play with higher/lower pitches, volume, or even accents. The variety adds an element of fun that can make it easier for them to remember their words.
4. Sing and spell: Your child can spell out words to the tune of a familiar song, such as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" or "Old McDonald Had a Farm." If they're particularly artistic, they can make up their own song!
5. Rainbow spelling: A simple way to spice up spelling for kids who like to write is adding color. They can practice spelling out words with markers, paint, glitter pens. For challenging letters, write the letter in bubble-style font and add a special design or doodle to make the letter stand out.
6. Flash card memory game: Have your child write out two sets of cards, (they can take a little extra time to decorate them for more razzle-dazzle), spread them out, and face them down. Shuffle the cards and pick up two at a time to check if they match. They can play solo or have you join in on the fun.
7. Add-a-letter: This activity requires two players. Each of you takes a turn adding one letter of the word at a time. A simple but engaging task that helps keep kids focused on study time. For an added challenge, spell the word backwards.
8. Hopscotch spelling: An outdoors activity, this game requires chalk and an empty sidewalk. Be creative coming up with arrangements for your squares, or alternate single and double squares for an easy pattern. Your child can write whole words in each square or one letter per square. You can read out words for them to jump onto the correct square or they can say each letter out loud as they jump on them.
9. Salt/sand box: All you need is a long, shallow container and either salt or sand. Your child uses their finger to write out words. Lightly shake the container to "erase" after each word. If your child is a tactile learner, they might love the feeling of the salt/sand and be much more willing to study for their spelling test.
10. Wall spelling: If your child prefers to be up and moving rather than sit at a desk, have them spell their words by tracing the letters on an empty wall. Have them spell the letters big so they engage their whole bodies, this is a great memory strategy.
Mix and match the activities to discover which way your child learns best! They'll look forward to practicing spelling and you'll look forward to receiving their report cards. Best of all, when you do these fun and easy tasks together it can turn study time into highly-coveted quality time. Win-win!