Spelling Words: Thinking Outside the Pen and Paper


spelling wordsIf you have an elementary aged child, then like me, you probably dread the weekly spelling test. My daughter’s first language is not English so, for her, spelling is hard and studying for spelling tests is even harder. The English language is especially hard because not all words are spelled like they sound or sound like they’re spelled. There are rules to help you understand how a word is spelled but there are many exceptions to the rules. It can be super frustrating! The silent “H” in “when” was our battle last week. It makes no sense; you just have to remember it is there!

After being at school all day the last thing kids want to do is more work at home and especially practice spelling words! Most children do not want to write their words five times each to practice. So at our house we’ve had to get a little creative. Here are some ways that we practice our spelling words.

Write spelling words IN a fun medium.

  • Cookie sheet with flour, sand, or sugar
  • Shaving cream or whipped cream

Write spelling words WITH a fun medium.

  • Playdoh, clay, or cookie dough (you can even bake the cookies when you’re done!)-you can use letter cookie cutters or let your child shape the letter how he wants.
  • Chalk on a chalkboard or sidewalk
  • Markers on a dry erase board
  • Dominoes
  • Legos
  • Pipe cleaners, Bendaroos, yarn, or twist ties
  • Paint – watercolors, finger paint, pudding paint,
  • Letters – refrigerator letters magnets, cut letters out of a magazine, scrabble tiles, alphabet blocks
  • Type them on the computer
  • Food – cereal pieces like Cheerios or beans
  • Small objects like coins or beads

Practice spelling words while doing something fun.

  • Throw or kick a ball back and forth
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Hula Hoop
  • Jump rope
  • Swing

Create pneumonic devices.

  • Make up a story or chant
  • Make them into a song – Because of Gwen Stefani I will never misspell “Bananas!”

Make puzzles.

  • Write letters on strips of paper or popsicle sticks and have them unscramble the letters
  • Write the words with extra letters or missing letters and have your child figure out how it is misspelled
  • Make a cross word puzzle or word search. Find resources here and here.
  • Make it a game
  • Some teachers are using websites like Spelling City to help children gain computer skills and have fun while practicing their spelling words

All children enjoy learning so much more when it is fun. These activities can be used for any child but are particularly suited for children who crave sensory input.  These suggestions can also be
used with practicing math or memorizing information for a test.

I want my children to be successful in school but I don’t want them to hate it. When a child joins a family through adoption, spelling, reading, and math, shouldn’t be the top priority in the beginning, building attachment should be. So it is important to set limits on the amount of time spent on homework. A child adopted internationally will likely have some delays and it will take time for them to catch up to grade level. Work closely with your child’s teacher, principal, and social worker to decide what educational plan will work best for your child and advocate for your child’s needs. But most importantly try to make learning fun and do activities together to build attachment.

For more information on our international adoption programs, please contact us.

Angela Simpson is an adoptive parent, social worker and adoption advocate. Angela is MLJ Adoptions’ Support Services Specialist and works with families throughout their adoption process. Angela and her husband have two sons and have just recently added a daughter to their family through adoption.