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Spelling

Updated on June 29, 2015

How to Make Spelling Fun

Spelling -- didn't you dread it in school: the pages and pages full of your words written "ten times each," cramming for a test each Thursday night, and the deadly dull Spelling Bee each year?

It doesn't have to be boring! Make spelling fun with games and hands-on activities. There are a multitude of different ways to practice spelling words. The ideas here can be used with whatever spelling curriculum or approach you use.

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The Key to Spelling Fun

The main way to keep your spelling fun is to use VARIETY.

Any one of the methods on this page will be fun the first time you use it. But if you use it too often, it becomes boring. So keep rotating your spelling activities! Keep your children in suspense, never knowing what today's spelling lesson will include.

Print the Spelling Activities list linked below and keep it in your homeschool planner so that you'll always have ideas right at your fingertips.

More Spelling Activities - Hands-on spelling activities

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Spelling with dot paint markersSpelling with alphabet ink stampsSpelling art: How to spell HAIR = Air is inside hair. Girl with long blonde HAIR spinning around in a huge tube of AIR (tornado).More spelling art: How to spell fourth (vs. forth). Four is inside fourth.Hands-on spelling. The answer to Where? is inside the word -- here!More spelling art: How to spell wear (vs. where). The word "wear" with clothes on it.Spelling with ransom note lettersSpelling with salt doughMore salt dough spelling words
Spelling with dot paint markers
Spelling with dot paint markers
Spelling with alphabet ink stamps
Spelling with alphabet ink stamps
Spelling art: How to spell HAIR = Air is inside hair. Girl with long blonde HAIR spinning around in a huge tube of AIR (tornado).
Spelling art: How to spell HAIR = Air is inside hair. Girl with long blonde HAIR spinning around in a huge tube of AIR (tornado).
More spelling art: How to spell fourth (vs. forth). Four is inside fourth.
More spelling art: How to spell fourth (vs. forth). Four is inside fourth.
Hands-on spelling. The answer to Where? is inside the word -- here!
Hands-on spelling. The answer to Where? is inside the word -- here!
More spelling art: How to spell wear (vs. where). The word "wear" with clothes on it.
More spelling art: How to spell wear (vs. where). The word "wear" with clothes on it.
Spelling with ransom note letters
Spelling with ransom note letters
Spelling with salt dough
Spelling with salt dough
More salt dough spelling words
More salt dough spelling words

Spelling Ideas with Crayons and Paper

Want to get started right away -- maybe today -- with some fun spelling activities? Do you have paper and crayons on hand? Sure you do!

Here is a super easy spelling idea! Have your child completely cover a half sheet of paper with crayon. Use a variety of bright colors in any pattern at all.

Then you can do a couple of things with the waxy page. Your child can scrape the spellings into the wax with his fingernail or the end of pen cap.

Another idea is to place the waxy side face down on a clean piece of paper. Write the spelling words onto the backside of the colored page, pressing down hard. The wax will press onto the clean sheet, making rainbow letters.

Another idea that requires only the most basic of materials is to make visual images of the spellings. This may require a bit of help from the adult if the child is struggling with ideas. Here are some examples my daughter (age 8) and I came up with for some spelling words.

First, she was having trouble with the difference between of and off. Off has two f's as shown in this image; the f's make the filament of the lightbulb.

This example shows the power of simply visualizing how one difficult to spell word is like another, easy to spell word. Colors are used to emphasize the spelling.







For the last example, the spelling word was nice. I pointed out to my daughter that the word ice is inside nice. She came up with this image. A caption would be "Ice is nice on a hot day."

Another crayon spelling idea is to write words on white paper with a white crayon. The words will be almost invisible. But when you paint the paper with a thin tempera paint, the words will appear like magic!

Creative Spelling Supplies

Writing spelling words with unique tools can make a boring task fun. Try dotters, alphabet stickers, alphabet stamps, sidewalk chalk, oil pastels, or paints. Even a wet paintbrush on an outside wall or sidewalk can be fun!

Or allow your child to write spelling words on a chalkboard, a whiteboard, a mirror or sliding glass door, large sheets of paper taped to the wall, sandpaper, even the shower stall! Use an eraser to erase the letters from a page of an old magazine. Use Vis-a-Vis pens on transparency sheets (or clear plastic report covers).


Look through your craft cabinet and get creative. Or see what toys you can re-purpose for spelling fun.

More Spelling Inspiration


Visit these weblinks for even more ideas.

Spelling Without Pencil and Paper

You don't have to write or mark at all to spell. Consider using tangible things to form letters. Be sure to have a large working surface. Maybe the living room floor would be best!

Here are some ideas.

  • string, twine, or yarn
  • ribbon
  • pipe cleaners
  • toothpicks or craft sticks
  • packing peanuts

Spelling Tiles

Personally, I consider letter tiles to be an essential tool for a homeschool resource cabinet. You can borrow from the Scrabble game, or buy a set just for spelling activities.

Eureka Tub Of Letter Tiles, 176 Tiles in 3 3/4" x 5 1/2" x 3 3/4" Tub
Eureka Tub Of Letter Tiles, 176 Tiles in 3 3/4" x 5 1/2" x 3 3/4" Tub

Plastic tiles just for playing! This is a lot better than robbing the Scrabble box.

 

Get Physical

Jump spelling is a way to engage the entire body in the spelling process! If you're outside, write all the letters you need to spell your particular words on the pavement. If you're inside, use letters written on pages of paper, scattered around the floor. Call out a word. The child has to jump out the spelling, moving from letter to letter.

Use sign language to sign the spelling.

Using the computer is ususally a motivator for children! Spell the words by typing them in a word processor or pretend on a cardboard keyboard. Here is another version if you prefer all black and white.

Tracing and Shaping

Letters can be spelled out in various textures. These, although messy, are sure to engage your children in the day's spelling lesson. Consider taking it outside or to the bathroom for less mess.

  • shaving creams
  • jello or pudding
  • salt
  • finger paint
  • rice (put it on a dark or bright background)
  • birdseed
  • goop
  • playdough or clay

Free Online Spelling Lists

Spelling Power

My daughter is not a strong speller, so I have chosen to use Spelling Power to help develop her skills. I think it's a great program! Although it's expensive, it will last you for years and years and can be used by a learner at any level of spelling ability. So the initial investment will pay off. Read a review of Spelling Power at The Curriculum Choice.

Spelling Power, Fourth Edition
Spelling Power, Fourth Edition

Yes, it's pricey. But this spelling curricula will last you for years and years and will work with most any child. Try to find it used. I got mine as a hand-me-down, even better!

 

Spelling with Evan Moor

If you're looking for a more traditional, workbook format for spelling, Evan Moor Publishers has some options at each grade level.

Building Spelling Skills: Grade 3
Building Spelling Skills: Grade 3

Here's your comprehensive resource for helping students increase their spelling competencies. Each book in the series contains 30 spelling units comprised of a grade-level spelling list and four reproducible pages that cover grade-level spelling skills.

 

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've been playing games (using scrabble letters etc) with my kids using their weekly spelling lists. I also use this website called Home Spelling Words. The practice section is what really helps my kids remember and they like to use the ipad.

    • teristazko profile image

      teristazko 5 years ago

      Great spelling ideas. I try to have my daughter learn them visually on paper, but I also have her spell them out loud without writing the words down. She likes to spell the word while jump roping and if she messes up she starts over. Plus she is getting exercise and it doesn't feel like exercise. I really enjoyed your lens...thanks for sharing!

    • duslan profile image

      duslan 5 years ago

      Great ideas! I will use these with my tutoring kids.

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

      spelling was always the hardest subject for me in school.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      I am out of my neighborhood and flying over homeschooling today as an angel. I have found many of your lenses and have blessed some of them but all of them are very helpful. This is another one that appeals to me with a 4th grader who won't take the time to learn to spell. Great ideas and since we are going to homeschool for next year, something that I am saving. Angel blessed!

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 6 years ago

      We use some of these spelling activities in our homeschool, but see some new ones to try as well! Blessed!

    • jimmielanley profile image
      Author

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      @anonymous: I think those black letters with flowers (on the heading) came from Microsoft Clipart. Each letter was an image.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great ideas! Can you share with me where you got the font on the pdf of spelling activities?

      thanks

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      Great alternative ways to learn how to spell. Love the pictures. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image

      cjw4ua 7 years ago

      Have you ever tried Spelling City? It is a free site with tons of games and activities. www.spellingcity.com

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Thank you for the fresh ideas to practice spelling. My middle child especially needs repetitous studying in a variety of ways.

      Pamela :)

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 8 years ago from Australia

      Excellent lens with some fabulous ideas! 5*

    • Webcodes LM profile image

      Webcodes LM 8 years ago

      Very well put together. wonderful illustrations

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks Jimmie- I love this lens! We will be officially starting Spelling-as an official subject- in August, and I want to learn as much as I can beforehand to help my dd succeed and enjoy it. Spelling was one of my best subjects but I just wasn't sure I could teach it, especially in a way that would cause my little one to love it. This lens has definitely given me some great ideas- ones I know my dd will love!

      Thanks again!!!

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Great lens and ideas.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 8 years ago

      Wow! Thanks so much for this. This is definately 5*. I have found that the squidoo spell check has improved my terrible spelling. When a word shows up in red I play with it until the red goes away. I am really getting better!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Great lens, my boys would have loved some of these ideas to help them with their spelling.

      Brenda

    • MisterJeremy profile image

      Jeremy 8 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thanks Jimmie. We homeschool our children and are always looking for ways to improve. I'll implement some of your spelling ideas right away, especially for my daughter who is a hands-on learner.

    • profile image

      juditht 9 years ago

      These ideas are great especially for a right brained thinker like my daughter. Also the best way to teach children is to teach them without them realizing they are being taught.

    • CLB LM profile image

      CLB LM 9 years ago

      Great idea, great and fun lens. Spelling isn't really done over here in France in the way it is done in many other -even francophone- country. We rely on dictation solely and it doesn't work for everyone. Spelling out loud is something just as valuable as spelling on paper, but that simple truth doesn't seem to have reached us yet... lol

      Keep it up!!

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 9 years ago

      Great lens Jimmie! Here are some ideas we have used over the years.

      1. Dry erase on a window or mirror

      2. colored pencils on graph paper, crossword style

      3. Spell words into a tape recorder (they loved this)

      4. Labelmaker

      I used Spelling Power all the way through and it was the easiest most pain free spelling program I ever tried.

      Thanks for sharing,

      Barb-Harmony Art Mom

    • profile image

      serendipityrose 9 years ago

      Hi Jimmie, I saw the link to your lens on the hscreatively list. I love your ideas! I'd like to add a link to your lens from my website www.thefuninlearning.com if you don't mind. I will be launching the site in a couple of weeks. Please visit my lenses!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      We truly appreciate these ideas. I love the one-page sheet to print out and keep handy. Thank you so much! Laura

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Jimmie, These are great ideas! Thanks for putting this page together and sharing them with us. :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      These are awesome ideas. I plan to use them in my classroom.