Simple ways to make spellings fun

Playing with Scrabble letters
If your child’s spellings have become the bane of your week-end it’s time to take a look at how you tackle the weekly-test challenge. Teacher Phoebe Doyle offers 10 suggestions to help make spelling practice more playful than stressful.

Speed grouping

One of the keys to successful spelling learning is to group the list into words that have similar spelling patterns. For example, your child might be learning ‘er’ words; some will be spelled ‘ir’ (e.g. shirt), some ‘ur’ (as in burn) and some ‘er’ (so louder). Write all the words on post-it notes and time your child as they sort them into the different groups of spelling patterns at speed.

App happy

Bet your child can show you a thing or two about how to use your iPhone or tablet! Make the most of their skills and keen interest in using anything ‘grown-up’ and techno by downloading a spelling practice app. We like SpellBoard, but there are loads to choose from in the iTunes store.

Switch places

Children love to play teacher, so turn the tables on the spelling-test preparation by playing student and getting them to quiz you. Make sure you ‘accidentally’ get a key part of the word wrong sometimes (but be warned, they will be far more brutal than their teacher when telling you where you’ve gone wrong!).

Type, don’t write

Put pencil and paper to one side and turn the computer on. Make sure the spellcheck is on and ask your child to type each of their spelling words. Explain that if they see a red wiggly line the spelling is wrong; they need to keep changing the word until they get it correct and there’s no line.

Make a wordsearch

There are loads to choose from on TheSchoolRun, but if you fancy preparing a custom one for a specific list of words they’re easy to make by drawing a grid (or using squared paper), entering the words your child is learning and then adding in other letters all around. Finding the words in wordsearches helps children to focus on how each word is made up.

Scrabble spell

Invest in a Scrabble set and make the weekly test prep into regular game time. Have all the scrabble letters to hand, and the rails to put them on. Ask your child to spell out each word. Add together the scores (using a calculator if you’re short on time). Find out which word has the highest score and award suitable prizes!

Spell on the fridge

Using magnetic letters, put each of their spelling words up on the fridge when you get the list. Each day choose a word or two and take away one of the letters or sounds. Ask them to correct the word which has been messed with!

Chalk it

Using chalk is great! Similar to wipeable whiteboards, erasing mistakes with ease it is great for learning words as it is practical and reduces the stress at the thought of ‘getting things wrong’. Have your child write out each word in chalk and then check their work themselves. You can do this outside in the garden, on paving or even on the wall. (Disclaimer: explain they’re only allowed to graffiti in chalk!).

Paint in water

On a warm day there is no other more satisfying, mess-free activity than taking a proper decorator’s brush and a bucket of water outside for children to paint with. Combine this with having them write their words in the water, and you’ve covered fun and learning in one super activity. (Plus writing huge letters is fantastic handwriting practice.)

Poems and riddles

Help your child write a poem or riddle for each spelling word – do it together and have fun with it! The rule is that they have to write the word at least once in each line. This activity helps them by having them copy out the word several times, fixing it in their mind, without seeing it as a boring copying activity.