Have you ever been faced with the homework task of helping your child learn a list of sight words for a spelling test?
Here are some of the top strategies and activities for learning how to spell these words.
1. Words in Words
– Count the number of letters in the word and look for little words inside the word
- here = he her
; when = hen
; some = so me
. Many children write the first and last letters of a word (which are usually the easiest parts to hear) and need to be reminded of the middle letter or letters in between. Often children write “wot” for “what”, until a teacher or parent points out the four letters and highlights the word “hat” inside it. Frequently children write “wen” for “when” which is how it sounds. Once shown that it has four letters and the word “hen” inside it, a child has a far greater chance of remembering the word and spelling the word correctly.
2. Magnetic Letters – Make the words with magnetic letters on the fridge or use plastic milk bottle tops (write one letter per top with a permanent marker). When starting to learn new words only give the child the correct letters so that they can simply put the letters in the correct order. For example rea = are; ouy = you; thiw = with; em = me. Too many unnecessary letters can overwhelm the child and make the task too difficult.
3. Make and Break - Some words are long and difficult to remember. Breaking words into small achievable chunks helps to remember how they are spelt. For example, fri + end = friend; Fri + day = Friday; to + get + her = together; Wed + nes + day = Wednesday.
4. Flashcard Games – Use pairs of words from your Magic Words Playing Cards and play card games such as Magic Memory (Concentration). In Magic Memory the cards are placed randomly face down on the table and each person take turns at turning over and naming two cards in search of matching pairs. Each player must use their “Magic Memory” to find the matching pairs of words. The person who gets the most pairs is the winner.
5. Baking Tray Play– This involves placing some impressionable material in a baking tray such as - sand, flour, breadcrumbs, glitter, sprinkles, 100’s & 1000’s, drinking chocolate powder or jelly crystals and allow the child to trace the spelling words in the tray. If they trace it correctly (in something yummy) they may be allowed to lick their fingers!
6. Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check - After looking at the word closely, counting the letters and looking for “words in words”; encourage the child to cover it and see if they can picture it in their mind (visualizing), and then writing the word, before uncovering the word and checking if it has been memorized and spelt correctly. This strategy is known as Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check.
These simple activities make learning to spell fun and are the most efficient way to achieve spelling success!