Monday, 18 January 2016


As a tutor I find that spelling is something that some of my students are not confident with.   More often than not, they are given a spelling list of words to learn at school without any explanation or activities to help them develop strategies to learn and use the spellings.  (Some are not sure of the phonemes and as they progress through school their exposure to these is less and less frequent).  At times, the words that they are learning are only used in ‘the weekly spelling list’ so that the student learns the word for that specific test and then forgets it.  
When working with an individual student on a spelling list, I endeavour to use a variety of strategies to support them; looking for patterns and letter strings; identifying the phonemes; writing the spellings in chalk, sand or shaving foam.  I believe that learning spellings should be structured  and fun!  
This snakes and ladders spelling game is very popular and I have used it with children of all ages and abilities as you (or the student) make cards with the individual’s spellings on them.  I keep the cards so that we can practise the words again (and again) in future lessons.  Through the game, the children discuss, practise their spelling and develop strategies to help them learn and to remember the spellings.  I play with the student and they really enjoy it when they beat me or I slide down a snake.  

There are a variety of activities in the game.  Fancy crazy writing involves the student writing the word in bubble writing, or dots, etc.  Colour coding encourages them to identify the phonemes, to find words within words, or parts of the word that they may find tricky.  A rap that I use frequently is this: to the s to the p, to the e l l, to the i to the n to the g, to the spelling, spelling, spelling.  Sometimes this rhythm goes wonky or it may not quite fit which always brings a smile and leads to a discussion about possible alternatives.  More simply try clapping the syllables or chanting a spelling rule e.g change the y into i and add es

 I am quite new to blogging and I am discovering ways of sharing things that I have tried and tested successfully and enjoy using with you. As a consequence, I had to draw the snakes and ladders on the game board and then scan it for this blog – I guess you can play the game without the snakes and ladders or you can use other objects according to the students interests e.g. space rockets and comets.  If you would like copy please contact me.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016



Your child may have homework that involves online research.  The internet is a huge resource and generally there is no problem finding information about a specific topic. However, reading, deciphering a, applying that information can be daunting as there is so much of it, often written in formal and technical language that can leave your child (and yourself) with the feeling of 'information overload.'   The following questions will support your child in developing online research skills and successfully completing online research tasks.

What needs to be done?  Support your child to define the task and identify one or two specific questions that they want to find the answer to.
What resources can I use?  Search engines will direct you to websites which use text.  However, the text may be overwhelming for even the most confident of readers.  Choosing videos can be an effective alternative way of researching, particularly as these tend to be short and concise.  The images tool can also be a useful resource in both interpreting and presenting information.
Where can I find these resources? When typing the specific question / key words you can include the words "for kids" or "key stage one" into the search engine which should direct you to websites that are more accessible for children.
What can I use from these resources? Add useful websites to your “favourites” so that they can easily be located again.  In selecting the information, encourage your child to refer back to their specific question/s, identified in the first question.    
How will I know I did my job well? Encourage your child to evaluate their research by asking themselves if they have answered their initial question/s, have they used their own words and what they have learnt?  The mnemonic KISS (keep it short and simple) may help your child to select facts and to organise their work.

What can I make to finish the job?  Your child's research can be presented in many ways (text, poster or model) using features of non-fiction, e.g: text boxes, to produce an eye catching, informative and concise project.