15 Activities for Practicing Spelling Words

imagesBy: Tricia Wegman, Learning Specialist







Struggling to help your child study for the dreaded spelling test every Friday? Spelling tests can be a daunting tasks for students, especially those with learning difficulties. The good news is that there are many different approaches to studying for spelling tests so that students not only retain the words for the test, but also for future writing. As always, it is important to present students with information to be learned using various techniques that stimulate different types of learners. A good rule of thumb is to always present information in a visual, auditory, and tactile way. Here are 15 quick and easy ways to practice spelling that hopefully will establish some peace in your household on Thursday nights.Build the words: This method gets kinesthetic learners to use their hands to create words. Use foam letters, magnets on the fridge, or even build letters with legos to make the words. Using their sense of touch and being actively involved in piecing together the words will help the words stick with your child.

2.Use colored pens, crayons or colored chalk: For visual students, writing in different colors is a simple, yet effective way to help students memorize information. Buy sparkly gel pens, color changing markers, puffy paint, or even chalk to write out the words. If a certain spelling rule is being practiced (ie. “ea” sounds), have the child do the specific sounds in a different color to aid in retention.

3. Make a poem, song, or rap with the letters: For auditory students, making up songs or raps can be very beneficial. I’ve even used beatboxing to help students memorize the sounds in their spelling words.

4. Make the letters with their body: Quiz your active child on his/her words by having them spell the words out using their body. This is especially fun and helpful with a partner because students need to focus on the sequence of letters as they spell them out with their partners.

5. Create spelling word art:Have students draw a picture and hide the spelling words within their picture. This works especially well for visual students because as they visualize their artwork, they also visualize the words within the picture.

6. Make a recording of how to spell each word:Have the child follow along with the recording and recite the letter sequences of each word. Make sure the child says the letters aloud so that they auditorily receive the information.

7.Use fun materials to decorate the words:Draw the words on a sheet of paper and have the child glue buttons, feathers, sparkles, or colored rice to each letter. Once again, the child must focus on the shape of the letter and actively place the materials on each letter.


8. Go on a spelling word scavenger hunt: This activity will be easier for students still spelling more commonly-found words, but giving students their list of words and allowing them to search the house for the words in books, on food packages, in the newspaper, etc. can help visual students with memorization. Allowing them to take a picture of the word is also fun so they can come back to you and show you the pictures of the words they found.

9. Use known rhyming words: For auditory students, relating new words to already known words with the same sound will make memorization easy. An extremely simple example of this would be to relate the new word “joy” to an old word “boy.”

10. Use sensorial stimulating substances to practice words: Spray some shaving cream on a desk, put colored hair gel in a large ziploc, or put boiled spaghetti out on the table and have the child trace or write out the letters with their fingers.

11.Sort the words: Oftentimes spelling lists will work on similar rules (ie. “ee”, “ea”). Give the child each word on an index card and specify a certain area for the words in each rule. First have the students sort through the words by putting the correct words in the appropriate area. Then collect the cards and call out the words, only giving the child the card when he/she can correctly identify which area the card should go without seeing the word.

12. Use musical instruments to count out sounds in words: Especially early on, most spelling words are spelled according to sound. Allow the child to hit keys on a keyboard, pound on a drum, or strum a guitar on each sound that they hear. For example, the word “start” would have 5 beats on a drum.

13. Jump on the words: Write out the letters of the alphabet on large index cards and spread on the floor. Call out the words and have the child jump on each letter of the spelling word in sequence.

14. Draw the words: Have students draw their words in a shape that reminds them of the word. For example, if the word was “circle,” write the letters in the shape of a circle.

15. Make a ransom note: Give your child a magazine and have them cut out letters and paste them to another sheet to form each word. The active search for letters will greatly enhance retention.