Ideas for Spelling Practice

Whether we’re home educating our children or practicing spelling words for school, many of us need creative ideas for practicing spelling words.

Not all children are auditory learners, so orally reviewing the list each day may not work with some children.  I am homeschooling my third grade son this year, and he has some problems with auditory processing; however, he learns very well kinesthetically.  Touching and feeling and experiencing the words helps cement them into his brain.

I have gathered some books and boxes and internet sites full of creative and fun ways of learning spelling words.  Today, I want to share some of those ideas with you.  I hope you’ll also share any great spelling practice ideas here in the comment section.

I use these ideas with the son I’m homeschooling, but I also use them to practice word lists with my second grader, who goes to the mission school here where we live.


By far, the favorite way to learn spelling words around here is making them out of clay.  Sometimes Caleb forms only the letters out of clay, and sometimes he also forms a picture of the word out of clay.  For instance, when we did a list of homophone words, he formed the clay word and then he took those and remolded them to make a picture of the word.  So the clay letters “MAIL” became a clay envelope and the letters “MALE” became a stick figure boy.

In my experience, children love writing on a white board or chalk board.  Hang a small one on a wall (or paint a wall in chalkboard paint) and have them copy their word list.  Because of the friction the fingers feel from the chalk when writing on a chalkboard, as opposed to a white board, the chalkboard is probably better for the kinesthetic learner.

Other ideas:

*  Form the spelling words out of dry beans or nuts.

* Fingerpaint the words.

* Cut and paste the words from letters from newspapers or magazines (like a ransom note).

* Write the words in the form of a picture of the word meaning (i.e. “HOUSE” written around the shape of a house).

* Use a BINGO dot marker to form the words out of dots.

* Fill a small plastic container with sand and write the words in sand with the tip of the finger.

* Clap-Tap the words — Spell each word aloud, clapping on each vowel and tapping on each consonant.

* Copy the words and circle the blends with a colored pencil and mark each vowel with a different color.

* Dice-Roll Rainbow — Choose a spelling word and write it in large letters on paper. Roll the die to determine how many times to trace the word. Then trace the word in a different color crayon or colored pencil each time.  Do the same for each spelling word.

* Write each spelling word on an index card in large letters. Using a hole-punch, punch along each letter (leaving paper between each hole).  Tape each index card to a rectangle of construction paper.

* Type the words on the computer.

* Write the words on index cards, then lay out the cards in alphabetical order.

* Look up each word in the dictionary and write the definition on the back of each word’s index card.

* Rhyming Couplet — Think of words that rhyme with the spelling words.  Choose a word and write a rhyming couplet, underlining the spelling word.

* Use the spelling words to create math story problems.

* Yarn Words — Glue yarn on thick paper in the form of each word. After the glue dries, close your eyes and feel each word, spelling aloud as you go.

* Letter Beads — String letter beads to spell each word.

* Use toothpicks to spell out the words.

* Cheer Words — Make up a cheer for each word.  Snappy, catchy, short, loud.  Then cheer through the list.

* Secret Code — Make up a secret code and key, then write each word in code.  Give the list to someone to de-code.  Check to make sure they spelled each word correctly.

* Suffixes — Add as many suffixes as possible to each spelling word.  Then check in the dictionary.

* Letter Tiles — Form each word out of letter tiles.

* Postcard — Write a postcard from an imaginary trip using five spelling words.

* Short Story – Think of a story idea (going on a space trip, buying a puppy, visiting a zoo, etc.) and use the spelling words in that story.

* Write 10 sentences about your state (or whatever topic you’re studying in history or science) using a spelling word in each sentence.

* Letter of Complaint (or Compliment) — Use at least 10 spelling words in a letter of complaint or compliment.

* Guide Words – Look up each spelling word in the dictionary and write its guide words.

* Acrostic — For longer, more difficult words, form an acrostic.  Example — ARITHMETIC = A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream

Now, how about you?  What ideas do you have for learning spelling words?



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3 responses to “Ideas for Spelling Practice

  1. Another idea:

    Kim from Facebook suggests writing the words in shaving cream on the table.

  2. — (similar to the beans) – make the words out of M&Ms or other small candy. For every x number of words spelled correctly, they get to eat the next word.

    — have the student spell out the words with his/her body. Think “Y M C A”.

  3. Thank you for posting these ideas Jenn! Patrick, I like the M&Ms idea too.

    Sometimes we will make up silly sentences using as many spelling words as possible, then D will copy them on a different piece of paper, underlining each word.

    We have tried writing the words in large letters on a chalkboard; however, we had to stop because he cannot stand the sound of the chalk on the chalkboard (or the feel of the chalk or chalkboard on his fingers–it will work MUCH better for Aidan though). Doing the same thing on a white board would also work–there is something about those exaggerated motions when writing words larger than normal.

    We have spelled the words with our letter tiles, then have removed the vowel tiles, jumbled those up and had to find the correct vowels to respell each word.

    Sometimes we will have mock spelling bees. It’s fun to get to spell words orally sometimes. Then, he will give me words to see if I can spell them.

    A teacher friend suggested doing “rainbow words” for the lists. The children can trace their spelling words using different colored markers/colored pencils for each letter of the word.

    We have also stamped out our words using my alphabet stamp stash from my scrapbooking/card making supplies. Anytime they are allowed to use Mama’s stamps is always a treat. 🙂

    **We’re definitely going to be implementing some of your ideas this year! Thanks again for sharing. 🙂

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