5 unusual ways to help with spelling

Unusual ways to help with spelling
Help your children improve their spelling skills with games and activities that build word-savviness in fun and interesting ways.

1. Spell with your fingers

Change the way your child memorises spelling words each week by signing them out! It’s a great way to visualise the words in a different way, and also learn British Sign Language.

Every year, the National Deaf Children’s Society encourages schools to run ‘Fingerspellathons’ to both raise money for the charity, as well as give students a chance to learn about childhood deafness. It’s also a great way to help children memorise difficult spellings, and feel proud at learning a new skill!

2. Play a game of cards

Help your child memorise words with the same starts, middles or ends by playing a spelling version of Happy Families. For instance, make groups of four cards with words that have ‘ai’, ‘oa’, ‘ea’ or ‘ei’ in the middle. Try making groups of cards with singular or plural versions of the same word (so, having all the singular versions will win the game, for instance), or that rhyme with each other. Play the game and collect the four cards that ‘match’ with the same sound or spelling rule.

Find more tips like this in Spelling Made Magic.

3. Adopt a word

Does your child have a favourite word? Help them own it! Children’s communications charity ICAN used to ‘sell’ words for £15 each, and although the scheme is no longer running you could still donate to them to support ICAN’s work with children who have difficulty communicating. Why not make word adoption an annual event in your family, with a new word to learn and use?

4. Get competitive

Turn spelling into a fun competition by organising a spelling bee. Popular in the US, where they’re actually televised, a contest will get your child interested in words they might never have heard before. It can also be thrilling to watch as a large group of contestants dwindle down to four, then three, then two, then the winner!

Compete in your own spelling bee online – could you hold your own against spelling bee champions?

5. Get hooked on word puzzles

Wordsearches and crossword puzzles not only improve thinking skills, but also help reinforce spelling rules. Solving a crossword involves getting word spellings correct as well as knowing the right answers to the clues. Wordsearches show correct spellings in the list of words to find, and then encourage children to know how to spell it letter by letter when looking for it in the puzzle. Make it into a challenge by setting your child a time limit on finishing their word puzzle, and offer rewards for beating previous records!