Accurate spelling is not a temporary memorization ability. It is a skill that is developed over time. The goal of spelling instruction should not be to memorize the spelling of words, but to develop the knowledge to build vocabulary and correctly represent the written language.
As a homeschooling mother to an avid learner, I have to get creative with our lessons. My child is an excellent speller who learned to read with phonics. Practicing our spelling words is a daunting task for any child, but with a gifted child it is even more difficult to keep her attention.
Repetition, repetition, repetition is what I hear in my head as I teach, not just spelling, but also any subject matter. I am confident in this method. However, the technique in which you repeat has endless possibilities.
Here are some methods we use:
1. Say, spell, say. Have the list in front of the child where it is visible. Correctly pronounce the word, spell the word, and say the word again. This method is effective especially for audible learners. They are able to hear the phonetic sounds and then spell it accordingly.
2. Spell in the air. This method is great for visual learners. Follow the Say, spell, say method, but instead of just spelling the words add spelling in the air with their finger. This creates a visual of the word that tends to stay with them for recall at a later time.
3. Write the words twice. This gives repetition and hand writing practice all in one. This is great for the visual learner, but not great for the child who gets overwhelmed with big tasks.
4. Morse code. Say the word. Tap on the desk or table while child begins spelling the word silently, one letter for each “tap.” Part way through the word stop tapping and allow the child to finish spelling the word out loud. For example: Spelling (tap, tap, tap, tap, l, i, n, g)
5. Use magnet letters to spell the words. This is pretty self-explanatory. We use a cookie sheet or the refrigerator. This method makes spelling fun and takes the overwhelming out of the practice. For younger learners that get tired of writing this method is a tried and true way to get them to practice.
6. Play dough letters. Use play dough to spell out the words. Kids love this one! Feels like they are playing, but you are sneaking in spelling practice.
7. Write with sidewalk chalk. Also a big hit and provides fresh air at the same time. Practice those spelling words in the sun.
8. Write in salt or sand. I tried sugar once, but that wasn’t a great option for a sugar sensitive child. A non-edible version was better for my sugar crazy child.
9. White board or chalkboard writing. This method provides writing practice but seems different and more fun to the child. It is a special treat to write on the chalkboard.
10. Create spelling word activities. There are websites available that will create crossword puzzles, word searches, and other spelling activities with your spelling list for free. This is a big hit in my home. You can find these websites here, here, and here.
As you can see there are many ways in which children can practice spelling words and enjoy the activity. Every child learns differently and may require more practice in one method than another. It is important to remember that practice makes perfect and you can’t go wrong with making learning fun!