Ways to Practice Spelling Words

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Each week your child is likely to come home with a spelling word list on which he will have a test at the end of the week. It’s his job to study and learn the words, but simply looking at them isn’t going to do the trick--he’ll need some tools to help him remember the words. Here are 18 creative and interactive ways to practice spelling words.
  1. Make a spelling word origami fortune teller. These are also known as Cootie Catchers. It’s easy enough to create spelling word Cootie Catchers and having your child spell the word out loud is very helpful for auditory learners.

  1. Make and use a “word catcher.” These modified fly-swatters can be a lot of fun to use. Give your child a copy of his spelling words and you might be surprised to see how enthusiastic he is to start swatting the words in all the books, magazines, posters and papers in the house.
  2. Use magnetic letters, alphabet blocks or Scrabble pieces. Just as saying the words out loud can help an auditory learner, literally building the words can be helpful for more visual learners. Just keep in mind you might need more than one set of magnetic letters to spell all the words.
  3. Create your own crossword puzzle. Luckily there are free online tools like Discovery Education's puzzlemaker program to help you make puzzles. All you have to do is type in the word list.
  4. Use sensory play. Some kids learn better when all their senses are involved. Doing things like spraying shaving cream on the table and letting your child trace his words in it or having him write them with a stick in the dirt can help cement the words in his memory.

  1. Play spelling word Memory. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can make two sets of flashcards with the spelling words--it’s a good idea to write each set in a different color--or you can make one set with the words and one with the definition. After that, it’s played just like any other Memory game.
  2. Trace the words in rainbow colors. This is a variation on the old “write your words ten times” homework. Your child can trace each word over and over to remember the order of the letters for each word. In the end, though, it’s a lot prettier than a simple word list.
  3. Let your child text the words to you. This way to practice spelling words depends, of course, on whether your child has a cell phone and what the plan includes. With unlimited texting, though, it’s easy enough for you to receive the text, correct the spelling if necessary and send back an emoticon.
  4. Use sandpaper letters to make spelling word rubbings. Though it requires a little prep work, this is a fun way to practice the words. Once you have a set of sandpaper letter stencils, your child can arrange each word, place a piece of paper over it and make a rubbing with pencil or crayons.
  5. Make word searches. This, too, is an activity that is easy enough with online resources. SpellingCity.com is a fantastic site that allows you to make word searches and create other activities for your child.
  6. Play Hangman.Hangman is a great go-to game when it comes to spelling words. If you have your child use a copy of his spelling list, it will be easier for him to narrow down which word you’re using. Remember, you can always use the definition as a clue!
  7. Make up a spelling word song. It may sound silly, but there’s a definite connection between music and literacy. If you and your child are creative, you can create your own silly tune. For the less musically-inclined, try setting the words to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or another nursery rhyme song.
  8. Play the “Add-a-Letter” game. This game is a fun way to interact with your child. One of you starts writing the spelling word on the paper by writing one letter. The next one adds the next letter. Since many word lists include words that start with the same sounds, it may be challenging to know which word your game partner started writing.
  9. Write a story using each spelling word. Many teachers ask students to do this with their spelling words for homework, but you can add a twist by giving your child a topic to write or tell a story about. For example, challenge her to write a story about zombies using all her words.
  10. Highlight the words in the newspaper. Give your child a highlighter and a pile of newspapers and time him to see how long it takes for him to find and highlight all the words on his list.
  11. Play a “What Letter is Missing?” game. Slightly different than Hangman and similar to the "Add-a-Letter" game,this game is played by writing or typing the words, but leaving a blank space of two for key letters. Your child will have to put in the correct letters. This works particularly well to practice the vowel sounds.
  12. Act them out. Essentially this is playing the game Charades with your child’s spelling words. You can do it a couple of ways--give your child a list of the words and have him guess which one you are acting out or put all the words in a bowl, have him choose one and ask him to act it out.
  13. Put them in ABC order. While alphabetizing the list won’t necessarily help your child learn to spell each individual word, it will help her recognize the words and, for some children, just moving the strips (on which each word is written) around can help them keep the word in their visual memory.
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