Fun with Spelling
Spelling time is not always a favorite at my house. Alhumdulilah, I was one of those kids who were born to spell. My favorite toy – I’m not kidding – was the Speak and Spell – when I was growing up! While I was growing up, my dad would actually call me from work to ask me how to spell words. Yes, this shows that I was actually around before the invention of the Spell Checker – and SHOCK – I was also around before anyone had home computers! (As a side note – one day we were talking about dinosaurs in our house. My oldest turns to me and says “Mommy, were there dinosaurs around when you grew up?” I guess my kids think I am ancient. No, I’m not that old!) Now I have kids that are starting Spelling and it sometimes surprises me that no, not everyone was born able to spell! So, I have tried to find ways to make practicing Spelling fun for the kids and it hasn’t always been easy.
My daughter likes this site a lot. Each week I input her new Spelling list and throughout the week she practices. They have several ways of practicing your word list. The first day, my daughter will use TEACH – which reads the word for her and spells it out on screen. While she is listening, she practices writing the words several times in her spelling notebook. The next time, she will log on and play a few of the games they have available on their website. I definitely recommend this site to others!
Now, one thing to keep in mind is that THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL for anything in life. The same is for learning. While some program may work with others, it may not work for you. Don’t be disheartened though – you just have to keep trying and keep searching for what works for your child. Why do I say this? Well, because even though we used this site, my daughter still wasn’t doing great on her tests. Now, this site is GREAT. We like it a lot – but my daughter just wasn’t visualizing how to properly spell the words on her list.
One thing I greatly recommend is to go over any rules for the list of words you have put together – show the child how these rules work with the words you have given them. So, if you are teaching the different spellings of the long e, then help your child focus on the different ways the long e is spelled and have them place the words in groups based on how it is spelled. Hope that makes sense. Anyway, for some kids it is just harder to make that connection – they don’t completely get “why” you wanted them to study the list – so this makes it easier for them to understand why they are studying a particular word list and helps them to put those spellings in context.
I have also found other ways to manipulate our Spelling lessons to better fit with my child’s learning style. Now, I know that might be a bit too much to bite into – and is definitely another topic I will talk about at some time – but I have recently figured out that the reason my daughter is struggling in some of her school work is because she is a Visual-Spatial Learner. I definitely recommend to any parent that is struggling with their child with coursework – if their child is struggling and you just don’t know what to do to help them – read about learning styles. I struggled with my oldest for a while – trying every trick I could think of to get her to understand – nothing worked. Then I finally sat down and read some books on learning styles. I borrowed a book from the library entitled “Visual Spatial Learners” by Alexandra Shires Golon. Everything clicked – finally I figured it out, Alhumdulilah! Anyway the book talks about the reason why my daughter (who is this type of learner) doesn’t learn the way she is being taught. It gave excellent examples that made me able to determine (1) that she is this type of learner and (2) what I can do to help her learn in the different topics we have in school. It is an excellent book, masha’Allah.
I will try to give you a quick idea of what a Visual-Spatial Learner looks like. Hopefully this way you won’t be confused. According to Alexandra Shires Golon, the author of “Visual-Spatial Learners”
Visual-spatial learners are students who show advanced abilities with computers, maps, construction toys, and puzzles. These students think outside the box and demonstrate tremendous empathy and compassion. Too often, traditional classroom teaching strategies do not meet the needs of these students.
Anyway, I decided to see how things would change if I employed some of the ideas in this book and the results were amazing, masha’Allah. My daughter used to study her word list – even playing games and everything – and on Friday she would fail her spelling test. This happened often. I tried getting her to write the words more, but it just didn’t sink in. Now, I have more tricks up my sleeve and they are working. The first week we worked with these new tricks and my daughter took her spelling test and earned 100%. The next week she worked on the words herself with the tricks I had taught her and she again had 100%. This week – the same thing. When I asked her why she is doing better she said “oh, the word lists are just easier.” However, the word lists are the same difficulty as before. I think she has finally learned to look at the words in a way that she can finally understand them. So, as I said – if you have a struggling learner – don’t give up. The answer is just waiting to be found, insha’Allah.
So, what have we done differently? Now, when we are learning a new word list – for example if she is learning the long u sound spellings – and the word is nephew. I have her write the words in her notebook, but using either a different color pen/pencil or actually writing the spelling larger. So, for nephew, she would write nephEW. Also, sometimes if she has a problem with a word, for example nephew again. I might have her emphasize the EW in one color and upper case and also use another different colored pen to emphasize the strange spelling of another sound in the word – in this case ph. So, the word would be written in black – ne – the ph would be written in pink and then the EW (what she is learning now) would be in blue but also written in upper case to emphasize it. So, her word would look like this:
If you keep the colors the same each time your child works on a spelling list – it will (over time) be much easier for them to recognize the different parts (the difficult spelling and the sound that she is currently learning to spell). Instead of just having her write the words 10 times each (which never ever helped her remember or improve her spelling unfortunately) – she writes the words 5 or 10 times but with each part emphasized. It makes it more visual for her. According to the book, this method would not just help a visual-spatial learner, but would be helpful to other learners as well. So, if you want to change up the way you do spelling – give this a try.
Now, recently there was some discussion on spelling on one of the Homeschooling groups. I compiled a list of different websites we use for spelling I will share those with you as well, insha’Allah. For the first set of links, you provide your own spelling list to make games or printables to help your child with spelling. Here they are:
For this website, click on the tab “create your own” to create your own crossword based on your spelling words.
Make your own word search based on spelling words.
Make your own word scramble based on spelling words.
Online games for spelling words. My kids don’t like it as much as Spelling City, but they do use it sometimes.
OTHER SITES – have limited word input
Another site to make your own word search.
Another site to make your own scrambled words (limited amount of words).
Another site to make a word search or word scramble (limit is 10 words).
There are many other websites that use already generated word lists. They might also be useful – especially if you are not following a particular curriculum. Here are some of the websites I like:
Wordle – Create your own neat word art with spelling words
Spelling Books Online:
FreeWorldU – online flashcards (click grade and then Language Arts)
Brain Flips – create your own online flashcards
Online Spelling Games
Crossword Puzzles – Choose a grade and list
Word Search – Choose a grade and list
Word Builder 2 – Choose a grade and list
Insha’Allah these links will be of some help to you. If you have anything to add – please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
Sumayyah Umm SAA