Please welcome April Nolan from Fun 2B in First with her first guest post on Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business:
Spelling often becomes a drill and kill routine of copying words for memorization. Boring!
It doesn't have to be that way though. In fact, spelling can be made fun.
While some programs have done away with spelling lists all together, most teachers still have weekly spelling lists. So, I want to give you some ideas on how to spice up your spelling instruction, while still getting your students to master a weekly list.
If you have kids who are strong spellers give a weekly pretest and move those students scoring above 80% up to a higher list. The higher list can still use the same pattern or rule. For example, if you are teaching the ow pattern you could have two lists. One list could contain words such as cow, how, and now. The other list could include words like meow, endow, and allow. You can post both lists in class or have the students tape their individual lists to the corner of their desks for the week. Include both lists in your newsletter and simply circle the list each child should be studying.
You can also strengthen your spelling instruction by spicing it up with some fun. Some ideas for making it more fun to repeatedly write the words include writing them in rainbow colors, writing them in markers, and writing them on whiteboards. Students can also build the words with magnets, foam letters, wikki sticks, or cooked spaghetti noodles. If you are up for a mess, students love writing their words in shaving cream, chocolate pudding on wax paper, or in pixie stick powder on a paper plate.
If you have computer access, then your students might enjoy practicing their words on Spelling City. You can get a free account (or you can spring for the premium one) and they can practice at school or even at home. Students can even take their tests online and print it out already graded. It's a great option for students who need to make up tests they missed.
Games also always increase student engagement. One of our favorite spelling games in my class is Spelling Ball. Students sit around the edge of our classroom rug. I place a plastic crate at the front of the rug. Students take turns spelling the word I give them, using it in a sentence, and trying to make a basket with an inflatable mini-beach ball being thrown into the crate. Students get 1 point each for spelling the word, making a sentence, and making a basket. If you want to keep the other students engaged, they can write the words on a small whiteboard when it is not their turn.
April Nolan has taught for 7 years and is currently a first grade teacher. She is also the author of Fun 2B in First.