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How To Teach Kids To Spell Words: 25 Ways To Try

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Learning to spell well is not only for the spelling bee contestants. Good spelling skills will stand your child in good stead for life.

English is a tricky language and has many words that are said and written differently. For instance, the first letter “k” in the word “knock” is silent. Thus, it takes time and effort to learn the spellings of new words.

You may be wondering if there are fun and effective ways for teaching kids to spell. Well, this post is just what you need. We have come up with a few creative ways that will help you make learning spelling more fun and effortless for children.

These methods are designed to help them figure out different spellings, including those commonly misspelled. Your children will feel much more comfortable around words once they start playing with letters.

Benefits Of Learning Spelling For Children

Here are some benefits of learning spelling for children (1).

1. Improves reading and writing skills

Learning to spell is directly related to reading and writing well. The more words a child knows to spell, the better they can read and write.

2. Improves vocabulary

As your child learns to read and write better, they can improve their vocabulary by reading new words or even trying to spell the words you use in your daily conversations.

3. Helps diagnose learning difficulties

Making your child learn spelling can help you diagnose if your child has a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Early intervention can help them overcome the problem.

25 Ways To Teach Spelling To Kids

Make learning spelling fun for your children by employing any of the methods mentioned below based on your child’s mood and preference.

1. Highlight the difficult words

Children often have difficulties with specific words. If your child stumbles over a word each time, you can highlight the letters in it that confuse them and let them try again. Some of the most difficult words for them are those where “e,” “i,” and “a” occur one after the other.

For example, they might find it challenging to spell words such as receive, separate, desperate, thief, weird, and achieve. They might also trip over words with double letters, such as accommodate, address, necessary, and occasion. You can highlight these words in their notebooks and encourage them to pay close attention to them when reading.

2. Break it down into parts

The easiest way to teach spellings to children is to break up a complex word into simpler, more manageable parts they can spell easily. You can separate the words by syllables so that they can work out how to spell the letters of each syllable and then bring them together.

For instance, you can break up the word anger into an/ger, television into te/le/vi/sion, and cycle into cy/cle.

3. Copy, copy, recall

This is a simple yet effective technique for teaching kids to spell. In this method, you have to write down a word and draw three sections beside it. In the first two sections, the children have to write the word. Next, they have to cover the two sections and write the word in the third section by recalling.

Once they have written the word unaided, they can open the covered sections and check. If it is correct, they can proceed to the next word.

4. Associate words with images

Most children remember images more than they remember texts. You can use images while teaching spelling. Children get confused while using letters that generally have the same pronunciation and often interchange them. They often write things like “kat” or “krispy” for “cat” and “crispy” respectively.

In such cases, you can use pictures to help them with their spellings. For example, you can say, “The cat curls its tail in a C shape” or  “We eat crispy bacon for lunch” and show them relevant images.

Free Worksheets and Printables for Kids

5. Emphasize on pronunciation

If there are double letters in a word, emphasize on them when reading, so your children also make it a habit. For example, say occasion by stressing on the “c” and going easy on the “s.” Similarly, for necessary, stress on the “s” and go easy on the “c.”

6. Make acronyms

Learning acronyms forms an essential part of education, even in colleges. Medical students remember the names of diseases or medicines using relevant acronyms. Acronyms make it easy and fun for children to remember spellings. The best part of this exercise is that you or your children can come up with anything and have fun.

For example, cat can be the acronym for come again tomorrow.

Some other examples are:
Owl: Oh, why late?
Friend: Five rats in England need donuts.

7. Write on the palm

If your children are kinesthetic learners, they can benefit from this method. Instead of writing the words on paper, ask them to trace the words on their palms (or any other part of their body). When they feel their fingers on their palm, they are creating muscle memory. With repeated “writing,” your child can memorize how a word is written.

8. Sing

Creating a melody out of a word is one of the sure-fire ways of making your child learn the spelling of the word. In fact, children participating in spelling competitions use this technique with great success. You can use a preset tune or create one.

The song should contain the letters of the word, and you should sing it repeatedly until it gets imprinted on your child’s mind. Once this is done, even if your child forgets the spelling, they will remember the rhythm of the word and recall the letters according to the rhythm.

9. Spell and eat

Making your child sit down to learn their spellings might seem boring to them. They would want to do something more entertaining, and learning spellings would not be on that list. However, you can teach them spellings during day-to-day activities, such as when having meals, so that they have fun learning.

For instance, you could ask them to spell a word and then have a bite of food. This will keep them distracted enough to learn spellings and finish what’s on the plate as well. You could also offer their favorite food sometimes as an incentive for learning their spelling.

10. Make connected words

Learning spellings will be more fun when your children play this little game with you. Tell them a word and ask them to make a new word from the last letter of your word. You can make them write the words or say them aloud.

This simple game can also teach your children the pronunciation of words, particularly those with a silent letter at the beginning or end, and will make them enjoy playing with words.

11. Make videos

If you do not have the time to be with your child while they are learning their spelling, you can record a video on your phone. Record videos of you spelling out the letters first, followed by your child repeating them.

When your child watches it enough times, they will be able to write the word effortlessly.

12. Create flip cards

You can also indulge your child in creating flip cards. You can print the image of the word behind the letters that make the word. For example, print the image of cats behind the letters C, A, and T. Let the child find the different letters with cat images and assemble them to form the word.

13. Search for words

Word searches are perfect for teaching kids to spell. They teach your children different ways to look at letters and form words out of them. Give them a grid with an assorted set of words. Use a timer to make it more fun and watch them as they race against time to find new words.

You can also use books, magazines, or newspapers for a word search. Give your child a particular word and ask them to mark the occurrences of the word on a page or a paragraph. This game will sharpen their brains and improve their comprehension skills as well.

14. Pass the ball

When you have a group of children with you, you can play this game to teach them spelling. Say a word, and the children have to stand in a circle and pass a ball to each other while saying a letter each.

If a child says a wrong letter, the next player throws back the ball to them and waits until they say the correct letter. The game guarantees a lot of laughter while also making them learn effortlessly.

15. Play scrabble

You need not necessarily play Scrabble with your children, but you can use the alphabet tiles in Scrabble to let your children make words. They can even calculate the points on the tiles as their score. This is also an excellent way to teach them words and numbers.

Scrabble is fun as it teaches children to make new words using the same letters. For example, C-A-T can also be written as A-C-T. If they add a K, they can form the word T-A-C-K.

16. Use mobile phones

Studying might be boring for children, but give them a phone, and they will be happy for hours on end. You can use this to your advantage. Try different spelling games that are suitable for children. Install a couple of these games, and let them navigate through different levels by spelling new words.

These games and puzzles help children learn and memorize new words, and they will be spelling complex words in no time.

17. Make flashcards

Use age-appropriate flashcards to teach spellings to children. Teachers at preschools often use flashcards to teach children new concepts. You can use flashcards to teach spelling, reading, and writing skills to children.

Write words on the cards and read each word aloud. Let the child write the word on the back of the card and then check it together. For reading, lay out some flashcards with letters to form a word and ask your child to pick the image that matches the word. For writing, let the child trace the word over the card using tracing paper and then write it on another card without any assistance.

18. Color the words

Children love playing with colors. So, why not introduce some colors in the world of words? Write some words in a big cartoonish font so that they can be colored, and let your children go wild coloring them.

If you are good at drawing, you can draw objects and ask your children to color them and then spell them. This way, they will have a magical, colorful time with words and also learn their spellings.

19. Play word bingo

Bingo can help your children master basic spelling skills. Don’t believe it? Trust us. All you have to do is create a grid and write different letters in different boxes. Read out words and tell your children to circle the letters that occur in each word. The first one that gets a full house wins.

You can also use bingo to teach reading to your children. Swap the letters with words and ask your children to circle those words you read out.

20. Spell with stairs

Make climbing up and down the stairs a learning activity. You might have already made them count the steps each time they ascend and descend. Now, you can ask them to spell out words on the steps.

Make them say a letter of a word as they climb each step. For younger children, you can even spell out three to four words. Step on the stair, say out a letter, then proceed to the next.

21. Group similar words

Instead of teaching children seemingly different words and spellings, group similar-sounding words or those that have similar spellings and make a list. This way, your child will be able to visualize one word and automatically associate it with other words.

For example, words such as high, sigh, nigh, light, and sight have “igh” in common. Write them down, and ask your child to spell each word aloud. They will be able to remember their spellings better.

22. Cut out words

If you don’t have a Scrabble set at home and do not want to buy one either, make some word tiles yourself. Take a magazine or newspaper and cut out letters in bigger fonts for easier handling. Paste them on construction paper or an empty cereal box and cut them out.

Give these letters to your children and let them experiment with them to form new words. You can also teach them to pronounce the words while they are creating them.

23. Use computer applications

Applications such as Microsoft Word and Grammarly are pretty helpful for quick spellchecks. While they are intensively used by adults, they can also be used by children to learn spellings. Ask your child to type a word and check whether it is spelled correctly.

You can also use an online dictionary or other applications for puzzles and word games to improve your child’s spelling, reading, and comprehension skills.

24. Use creativity

Writing on a sheet of paper using a pencil is standard for children. As they have notoriously small attention spans, it won’t be long before they find something more interesting to do.

You can let them explore the world of letters by letting them be as creative as they want. Give them colors and encourage them to draw and paint words. They can also create a word collage using cuttings from magazines or try their hand at calligraphy.

25. Read more

Last but not least, read more to your children. The more you read to your children or the more they read, the richer their vocabulary. They learn words and their pronunciations by sight and sound.

You can select stories that contain words that you want them to learn. By repeating stories, you help improve their spelling skills while also firing their imagination.

These methods work wonders while teaching spellings to kids. Pick a method you think your child would like. With some time, love, and patience, your child will be spelling words easily and without stumbling over commonly misspelled words.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Reed, D. K; Why teach spelling?; RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction (2012).
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Bharathi V

Bharathi is a content developer and writer with over 20 years of experience in creating original content for e-books, articles, websites, blogs, ads, brochures, company profiles, speeches, business presentations, instructional design and more. She has also edited financial papers and books. She writes kids’ education-based articles for MomJunction. Bharathi is associated with The Hindu group of publications in their STEP program,... more