IDEAS FOR SPELLING AND
When rote doesn’t work, it’s time to reach into your bag of tricks
to make spelling special. Third grade teacher Sally Engle is the inspiration for this list
of interesting things to do with spelling words.
1. ABC Order – Write your words in alphabetical order.
2. Backwards Words – Write your words forwards, then
3. Silly Sentences – Use all your words in ten sentences.
4. Picture Words – Draw a picture and write your words in the
5. Story Words – Write a short story using all your words.
6. Scrambled Words – Write your words, then write them again
with the letters mixed up.
7. Wordsearch I – Make a wordsearch with a friend, then trade
8. Wordsearch II – Complete a pre-made word search.
9. Crossword – Complete a pre-made crossword puzzle.
10. Words-in-Words – Write your word and then write at least 2
words made from each.
11. Cheer you Words – Pretend you are a cheerleader and call
out your words! (We will do this as a group activity.) Sometimes you’ll yell, sometimes
12. Secret Agent Words – Number the alphabet from 1 to 26,
then convert your words to a number code.
13. Sound Words – Use a tape recorder and record your words
and their spelling. Then listen to your tape, checking to see that you spelled all the
14. X Words – Write two words having one common letter so they
15. Other-Handed – If you are right-handed, write with your
left, or vice versa.
16. Choo-Choo Words – Write the entire list end-to-end as one
long word, using different colors of crayon or ink for different words.
17. Silly String – With a long length of string, “write”
words in cursive, using the string to shape the letters.
18. Backwriting – Using your finger, draw each letter on a
partners’ back, having the partner say the word when completed.
19. Telephone Words – Translate your words into numbers from a
20. Flashwriting – In a darkened room, use a flashlight to
draw letters in the air.
21. Create an Activity – Can you think of a fun way to do your
spelling activities? Try it out!
22. Puzzle Words – Use a blank puzzle form. Write your words
on the form, making sure that the words cross over the pieces. Then cut them out (color if
you wish) and put them in a plastic bag with your name on it. When you and a friend have
completed you puzzles, trade and put them back together.
Other Spelling Strategies
1. When you are writing and are not sure how to spell a word, think of
a word you KNOW that rhymes. For example: soggy-foggy; best-west. If you can spell the
rhyming word, try spelling the first word.
2. Saying a word s_l_o_w_l_y often helps you spell it.
3. When you are not sure how to spell a word, write it 2 different
ways. Then circle the way that looks right.
4. The letter “e” at the end of a word changes the vowel sound from
short to long. Bit-bite, fin-fine, rid, ride.
5. There are many different ways to study your spelling and new
a) many times a day, try to write the word from me-mory. Then check to
see if you spelled it correctly.
b) which part of the word is hardest for you? Focus on this part. Say
these letters with lots of force when you spell the word.
c) look at the word for 15 seconds. Close you eyes and see the word in
you mind. Open you eyes, write the word, and then check to see if you were right.
d) say the word in a way that will help you spell it.
e) trace the letters of the word with you finger and say the letters as
f) spell the letters in a musical way. Chant the letters and move your
body as you sing.
6. When you visualize a word, you “see” in your mind what the word
7. Nine out of 10 words that end with the sound “shun” are spelled
8. Sometimes “gh” sounds like “ff”, but other times (like
bought, thought, and through) it is silent.
9. Word families help you to spell new words.
10. The sound “f” can be spelled using the letters “f”,
“ph”, “gh”, “ff”, “lf”. Only the letter “f” or spelling pattern
“ph” are used at the beginning of a word.
11. Sometimes we do not spell words correctly because we are not saying
them clearly. Pronouncing words carefully will help you with their spelling.
12. To remember the spelling of words, find the smaller words in them.
For example, the word “end” is in “friend”. You can also make up little sayings to
help you remember the words in words.
Spelling Instruction that Makes Sense
One of the most useful techniques for increasing students chances of
success in spelling is to give them the “Las Vegas Rules for Spelling – Playing the
Odds”. Give the kids a sheet of the following rules, not for memorizing but for using as
reference sheets when they write.
“kw” sound is spelled “qu”.
“q” is always followed by “u”.
Every syllable has a vowel.
Soft “c” and soft “g” are followed by “i”, “y” or “e”.
If a word sounds as if it starts with “f” but doesn’t, it starts with “ph”.
If a word sounds as if it ends with “f” but doesn’t, it ends with “ph” or,
Use “dge” after short vowels and “ge” after long ones.
Most of the Time:
Words do not end with “i” unless they are shortened forms such as
mini – try “y”.
Occupations end with “er” or “or”.
Use “le” at the ends of words. It’s more common than “el”.
A “k” sound at the end of the word is usually “ck” or “c”.
Words ending in “c” will have an “i” or “ia” before the “c”.
If it’s a place where something is made, it’s “ery” not “ary”.
When you hear “chur” at the end of a word, try “ture”.
After a short vowel, try a “t” before a “ch”.
If it is a verb, it will end in “er” not “or” or “ur”.
Never write “shun” at the end of a word.
No English words end in “j”, or “v”, or “q”.
Never write “kk” in a word that isn’t compound.
Use “ck” instead”.
Submitted by Erin Bouma