Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spelling, part 2

Spelling, part 2
Last time, I introduced the idea of spelling being a difficult subject in our house, but I didn’t really give you any solutions. This time I hope to present a couple of ways that we seek to spell better in our fifth grade homeschool. One of the methods we use for spelling is actually the one she suggested in first grade. We start the lesson in spelling with a pre-test. The words she can spell she only has to write one more time before the spelling test. The words she gets wrong on the spelling pre-test go on to round two. She must do four kinds of practice on the word before she can test on it again. She does word finds, she must find the incorrect words within a paragraph and spell them correctly, and she must use it in a sentence, spelled correctly. If she misspells it on any of those occasions, then she must write the word five times. Just the threat of repetition causes her to work harder at learning how to spell the words that are assigned.

I have also discovered word games. Somehow learning to spell words by means of a game makes it all a little easier to swallow. There is a site out there, Spelling City, that allows you to put in your own spelling lists and then do activities and games with those lists. My child is an avid reader and because of that she can recognize a word if it is spelled wrong, even if she can’t spell it correctly. What we do with this ability is to let her proof read paragraphs with spelling words spelled incorrectly within the text. I figure recognizing the incorrect spelling is half of the battle. We tackle the other half of the battle by writing the word correctly.

Another thing that we do to improve spelling without a lot of repetition is to do word ladders. I have not found a place yet that will allow me to make my own word ladders with our spelling list, but I have found books from Scholastic that offer about one hundred word ladders. One book is second and third grade, the other is fourth and fifth grade level. I do believe that they offer one more at a higher lever. Even if they don’t you can find word ladders on line. Not familiar with word ladders? It is a list of 10 clues, and the process works like this. The first word might be “well”. The next place is a blank with a hint like, “home for a clam, take away one letter, add two letters.” “Shell” would be the answer. The next hint might be, “fall, past tense, take away two letters, add one letter.” “Fell” would be the resulting word. This not only works for spelling word family words, but it makes her use her brain in critical thinking, sequencing, and the meaning of words.

Spelling time used to be filled with tears, dug in heels, and butting heads. I won’t say that it is sunshine and roses every day now, but it is getting better, thanks to trying different methods than the tried and true repetition, things are improving. If you are encountering problems with your fifth grader in spelling, try thinking outside the box, it just might work for you.

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