Studying Spelling Words

Research has shown that good spellers tend to store visual "pictures" of correctly spelled words in their heads. They have a sense of when a word is misspelled, based on "how it looks." For some students, this does not come naturally, but it is a skill that can be taught. Below are some ways to study spelling words with your child. The words can be written on paper, typed on the computer or drawn on white erase boards.

Have the student write the word to be studied on his/her paper. Say to the student:

  1. Look at the word carefully. What is this word? Spell it out loud.
  2. How many tall letters does it have? (Tall letters rise above the midline, and include such letters as t, l, h, and b.)
  3. How many short letters are there? (Short letters include a, s, c, v and many more.)
  4. How many basement letters are there? (Basement letters hang below the line, such as p, q, g, and j.)
  5. How many consonants are there?
  6. How many vowels are there?
  7. Put your finger under the first letter. What sound does it make?
  8. Put your finger under the last letter. What sound does it make?
  9. Do you see any small words inside this word? (Small words, or "chunks", occur in many words and can be very helpful for spelling and reading improvement. Examples: "out" in the word about, "prove" in the word improvement.)
  10. (Feel free to ad lib here. All of the above directions do not need to be repeated with every spelling word, but the more difficult the word, the more you should have the student discuss the word.)
  11. Now turn your paper over. Close your eyes. Can you still see the word in your head? (Ask the student some or all of the above questions about the word with their eyes closed.)
  12. Now open your eyes and try to write the word. When you think you have written it correctly, turn your paper over and check yourself.

It is important that the student be allowed to check the spelling him or herself, rather than having you check for them. If the word was not spelled correctly, have the student immediately turn their paper over and try writing it correctly.

Repeat this process with other difficult spelling words.

Here's a link to more spelling study ideas: Six Ways to Practice Spelling

Copyright 2000 Heather Wall