I had a conversation with a friend the other day about the methods our kids utilize to memorize spelling words. That discussion brought to mind the many methods we've used to help learn spelling words, so I thought I'd share some of those ideas here.
To learn how to spell the words on their list, my kids used to simply write out their spelling words several times a day; but that didn't seem to be enough, and they would still misspell many of the words on their test. So we started to investigate how they learn words best (visually, kinesthetically, aurally, etc.), and we began incorporating some of the following techniques, which have proven to work very well for them. From our experience, I would think that the suggestions below would work best for kids who are visual learners like my kids are.
Tips For Learning Spelling Words
1. Drastically mispronounce the word to help recall the spelling. For example, say /par-lee-uh-ment/ for parliament or /ton-goo/ for tongue. This is one of the ways I still remember how to spell words correctly; I always think seh • pahr • ate instead of seh • purr • ate to remember that separate has an a in the middle and not an e. (Of course, if a child has trouble pronouncing the word in the first place, having them intentionally mispronounce it might be counterproductive!)
2. For words with a silent letter, pronounce the silent letter to help remember it's there. For example, walk becomes /wallk/ and sign becomes /sigg-en/.
3. Using a white board, print the word, but use a different color for the vowels so they stand out clearly.
4. Take note of the vowels in the word. Is there anything that stands out, such as there being all e's and no a's (such as in cemetery), or the vowels appear only in singles or pairs, or the vowels appear in alphabetical order, or every other letter is a vowel, etc.).
5. Take note of any prefixes or suffixes. Separate those affixes from the main word when thinking about the spelling.
6. Write out the word in full, then circle any smaller, recognizable words you see in it. For example, threadbare can be thought of as th• read • bare and believe can be thought of as be• lie • ve. (Of course, you can then go on to say, "Don't believe a lie," to help you remember that there's a lie in believe.)
7. If there are no recognizable words (i.e. real words) in the larger words, then simply break the word up into chunks (or syllables if desired) that are easier to remember. Once the word is broken up, again it might be helpful to mispronounce the word by emphasizing the sound of those individual chunks.
8. For some words, such as license, which has two /s/ sounds, take note of the order of the letters that say /s/. For example, in the word license, c comes before s, just as it does in the alphabet.
9. Circle any double letters, and, of course, take note of them. Again, mispronounce (overpronounce) the doubled letter to help remember it. For example, say hop • ping (and maybe even picture a bunny named "Ping" hopping!)