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.