By Kathy Kuhl When spelling doesn’t come easily, practicing can be repetitive and boring. Here are some things you can do to keep your child happily working to build their spelling skills:
Put finger paint or any colored, gel-like shampoo (such as Prell), in a Ziploc bag. Seal it up and place inside another Ziploc bag, then seal that, too. Place the packet on a table and flatten it. Your child can then draw the letters on the bag with a finger or Q-Tip, pushing the gel or paint away within the bags.
Find a large plastic box. We used one about 12” x 18” x 6” deep. Fill the box about half an inch deep with cornmeal. The child can trace the letters of the word he or she is learning in the cornmeal with a finger.
(Sand and sugar might seem like alternatives, but I prefer cornmeal. Spilled sand can scratch flooring. Sugar is both sticky and high-calorie!)
Writing large letters on concrete is more fun than using pencil on paper, and can incorporate some cross-body motion.
Fun Markers & Paper
Gel markers on black construction paper, markers on leftover wallpaper, or any other unusual paper. Red rosin paper, which is used as temporary floor mats during moves, comes in 100 foot rolls!
Some washable or dry erase markers work on glass sliding doors, and wipe or wash off, easily. (A friend in medical school’s study group uses his sliding doors.) But always test ahead of time!
Scrabble letters or refrigerator magnets allow children to move letters around, focusing exclusively on spelling. No stressing about correct letter formation. If you don’t have either of these, you can buy three dozen 1″ square tiles, matte finish, from the leftovers bin at a hardware to tile store. (They might give them away if you ask.) Then write each letter in permanent marker on a tile. Make extras of E, T, A, O, N, R, I, S, H, and F.
Uncooked alphabet pasta can be used in much the same way as refrigerator magnets. It wasn’t in my grocery store today, but I have seen it online.
Yarn & Glue
Use yarn and glue to make a spelling craft project. On a piece of construction paper, the child writes the first letter using washable glue, such as Elmers. Then the child can glue yarn to the page, trimming the yarn to correct length once it’s been placed. Repeat for each letter. This is messy, but may keep your child’s interest. To make it easier, you can use a glue stick and pre-cut the yarn for your child. Then there’s less glue on the scissors!
But only for children who can jump rope without much thought. Let the child say and spell the word as he or she jumps, at least one jump per letter. Multiple jumps for extra thinking time are okay.
These can be used in the same was as a jumping rope, but require less coordination.
Read Spin: A Magnetic Game
This game allows your child to build words of various lengths using magnetic rings with letters on them. The magnets make them click together in a satisfying way. They feel good in your hands.
I like the travel edition, which comes with a little drawstring bag to keep the eight rings together. Pictured are two sets.
How do you teach spelling to your struggling learner? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
- Read Spin, travel edition of this magnetic game.
- See the other products I recommend for building spelling and writing skills
- Check out my posts dealing with related topics:
- Language Skills for Young Children.
- Two-part series on Reading Teaching Tools for children of various ages.
- Four-part series on why writing matters and how to teach it.
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