Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's the best spelling curriculum?

When our family began homeschooling, I purchased a spelling workbook from a popular publisher. It was the typical format. The child was given a list of words on Monday. Throughout the week, they were provided with activities designed to help them learn how to spell the words. On Friday, they took a spelling test.

I was dissatisfied with the program for several reasons.
  • My older children were often required to spend time studying words they already knew how to spell.
  • My younger children were sometimes overwhelmed by too many new words at the same time.
  • When my students missed words on their Friday spelling tests, the opportunity to learn that word was gone, because it never appeared on their spelling list again.
  • The study activities were, frankly, boring! There was more grumbling than usual in our homeschool each time the workbook instructed them to "write each spelling word five times."
Abandoning the spelling workbook, I began collecting the words each child misspelled in their daily school work, to provide them with customized spelling lists. I scoured the Internet for interesting ways to practice their words. We wrote spelling words on the sidewalk in chalk, formed spelling words on the refrigerator with magnetic letters, and stamped spelling words in ink. When they missed words on Friday's spelling test, they were given those words again the following week, with just a few new words added.

An interesting thing happened. I rarely had to re-assign missed words. Everyone started getting 100% on their spelling tests. The grumbling stopped, and the children began to look forward to practicing their spelling words. Eliminating the boring, repetitious spelling practice and replacing it with more interesting activities worked! A bored brain apparently doesn't learn as readily as one that is actively engaged.

I don't have to work quite so hard these days to find fun ways to practice the week's spelling words. We practice online at SpellingCity. With activities like HangMouse, a cute variation of hangman, my kids look forward to spelling. Many of the activities, such as crossword puzzles and word searches, can also be printed. You can use your own spelling lists, or find lists other users have shared. For those who prefer a more traditional approach, SpellingCity provides an online spelling curriculum with suggested lists already prepared.

SpellingCity is a free program for all ages. It's a real timesaver for me, and my children love it.

Spelling tests made fun!

1 comment:

  1. Hang Mouse is one of my son's favorite games. My 2nd graders love it too! It is perfect to play on our classroom smartboard!
    I just started creating handwriting pages too for my students I work with in the summer. Be sure to check out this link too
    The Schroeder Page


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