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.
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
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.
- Wikki Words
Fabulous ideas for more spelling fun.
- Clothespins for Learning
What a brilliant idea! Use clothespins to spell out words!
- Five Guidelines for Learning to Spell and Six Ways to Practice Spelling
A great article for how to teach spelling. Why? because it gives practical how-tos with photos.
- How to Study Your Spelling Words
A step by step list of things to do with each word to help you remember it. Examples include writing it, saying it, circling problem parts, visualizing it, etc.
- New Ways to Copy Your Spelling Words
Change the medium you use to copy your spelling words, and suddenly the task becomes fun!
- Spelling Puzzle Maker
Input ten spelling words to create a wordsearch or a word scramble.
- Online Spelling Games
Here you will find links to ten online spelling games.
- Making Spelling A Lot More Fun
Another list of varied ideas for spelling activities.
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
- pipe cleaners
- toothpicks or craft sticks
- packing peanuts
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.
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
- finger paint
- rice (put it on a dark or bright background)
- playdough or clay
Free Online Spelling Lists
4. Super Teacher Spelling Lists Grades 1-4
5. Zaner Bloser Grades 1-8
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 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.
anonymous on October 12, 2012:
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 on March 30, 2012:
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 on February 21, 2012:
Great ideas! I will use these with my tutoring kids.
KarenCookieJar on November 23, 2011:
spelling was always the hardest subject for me in school.
Ann Hinds from So Cal on April 01, 2011:
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 on February 19, 2011:
We use some of these spelling activities in our homeschool, but see some new ones to try as well! Blessed!
Jimmie Quick (author) from Memphis, TN, USA on January 17, 2011:
@anonymous: I think those black letters with flowers (on the heading) came from Microsoft Clipart. Each letter was an image.
anonymous on January 17, 2011:
Great ideas! Can you share with me where you got the font on the pdf of spelling activities?
jlshernandez on January 16, 2011:
Great alternative ways to learn how to spell. Love the pictures. Blessed by a SquidAngel.
cjw4ua on September 02, 2010:
Have you ever tried Spelling City? It is a free site with tons of games and activities. www.spellingcity.com
JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on October 17, 2009:
Thank you for the fresh ideas to practice spelling. My middle child especially needs repetitous studying in a variety of ways.
Jeanette from Australia on July 15, 2009:
Excellent lens with some fabulous ideas! 5*
Webcodes LM on June 12, 2009:
Very well put together. wonderful illustrations
anonymous on May 03, 2009:
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!
Andy-Po on January 13, 2009:
Great lens and ideas.
MargoPArrowsmith on December 25, 2008:
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!
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on December 09, 2008:
Great lens, my boys would have loved some of these ideas to help them with their spelling.
Jeremy from Tokyo, Japan on November 22, 2008:
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.
juditht on August 21, 2008:
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 on May 14, 2008:
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 on May 13, 2008:
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)
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
serendipityrose on May 13, 2008:
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!
anonymous on May 13, 2008:
We truly appreciate these ideas. I love the one-page sheet to print out and keep handy. Thank you so much! Laura
anonymous on May 12, 2008:
Jimmie, These are great ideas! Thanks for putting this page together and sharing them with us. :-)
anonymous on May 12, 2008:
These are awesome ideas. I plan to use them in my classroom.