Spelling takes center stage today in the 10 Days of Language Arts series.
We sometimes joke about how spelling is not necessary in our modern, computer-driven world, but deep down, it is embarrassing not to be able to spell well. Charlotte Mason felt that children would pick up good spelling by repeatedly seeing words in the books they read. For many children, this is true. But for others, spelling is a real challenge. My daughter is one of those kids.
Spelling rules seem pretty useless to me. If your children find them useful, by all means teach them. The Notebooking Fairy has a free printable page for recording spelling rules. We have studied rules before, but there are so many exceptions to memorize that the rules seem counterproductive.
Instead, I have relied on a well researched curriculum and lots of different practice methods to help improve Sprite’s spelling.
I received a copy of Spelling Power as a hand-me-down. I had heard of it before but balked at the high price. Knowing what I know now, I can tell you that it is worth the high price because you can use it with any child at any grade. It is a complete spelling curriculum for a child’s entire homeschool career.
There are diagnostic tests to use in placement. Then according to the test, you start your child at the appropriate level, no matter what “grade” she is.
One of the keys to Spelling Power is the immediate feedback. During the daily quiz, you say a word outloud for your child to spell. If she spells it correctly, you tell her so. If it is wrong, you tell her the correct spelling which she writes down. Once she has completed a list of words or misspelled five words (whichever comes first), you stop that part of the lesson. Then the student goes through a prescribed learning routine that includes writing the word, tracing the word with her finger, saying the word, looking carefully at the word, and using the word in a sentence.
In addition, Spelling Power recommends adding activities, using the day’s spelling words. There are a maximum of five words each day, so these activities do not take long. There is review built into the program, and you are encouraged to add on words that the child misspells in other school assignments.
Of course, you don’t have to use Spelling Power to implement innovative spelling activities. I created a list of dozens of creative ways to practice spelling words. Print it out and keep it in your mom notebook for easy reference. When spelling lessons seem dull, try out one of the ideas.
Admittedly, you will have to do a few minutes of preparation as you find craft supplies or set up the activity. But I promise you that the investment will be worth it both in retention of spelling words and in the motivation of your child.
Because my Sprite is such a visual learner, even from the early years she has created her own visual tricks and reminders to help with spelling. She looks for words within words and then says the word in that new way. For example, courtesy is thought of as court esy to help with the spelling.
Other times she would focus in on a trouble letter and make a picture which helped her to remember it. For example, does helicopter have an i or a y in the middle? She may draw a helicopter with i’s making up the blades on the top.
Sometimes the pictures Sprite came up with made no sense to me, but if it worked for her, that was the point.
As she moved into middle school, breaking down prefix, root, and suffix were helpful for spelling correctly. I even created some vocabulary notebooking pages just for this purpose.
Although spelling is not my favorite subject to study, short daily lessons using Spelling Power and lots of varied activities have kept spelling engaging. More importantly, I have seen real growth in Sprite’s spelling. She is now on grade level (according to Spelling Power) and has gained confidence in her spelling ability.
Enjoying these posts, Jimmie! Thanks!
I like the letters from a magazine technique! Fabulous post, thanks, Jimmie.
Love this ‘look past the regular ol’ workbook’ approach. What a wonderfully encouraging series.
Personalising spelling words is really important. With one of my sons we looked carefully at what part of a word he had trouble with and then tried to come up with a trick. For instance, he spelled “scissors” “scissers”. Our tip was “You cut with scissors or a knife.” Problem solved. Likewise he used to write “muscel” but once he learned that “You have a muscle in your leg” the problem disappeared. Interestingly, he is 19 now so these problems were 11 or so years ago. He still remembers his personalised little tips! For visual reinforcement we used to write most of the word in one colour but the troublesome letters in another.
Thanks for such a great post! Spelling has always been the thorn in our side, but your post has just confirmed that we are on the right path, finally :).
I’ve really been enjoying your Language Arts series, Jimmie! I will definitely be checking out more of your resources as I need them in the future!
Kofo B @ Camera Mum says
Thank you very much for your post. I have been looking for a spelling curriculum for my children and I’m really glad I stumbled on this post. I will be ordering a copy of Spelling Power from Amazon today!
Tracey M. says
Great post! Did you buy or use the Spelling Power Activity cards? If so, were they necessary?