Learning to spell is challenging. The English language is not exactly simple to get your head around, and just when you get the hang, there’s always an exception.
But spelling is the first building block for many other key skills, such as reading and writing. It creates connections between sounds and letters, and it helps improve fluency and articulacy in speech as well.
So how do you make a child want to sit down and learn to spell? Spelling games, of course. These can be great for kids to explore the complex world of word formation, without feeling like it’s a chore.
Spelling is just as important today as it’s ever been
Technology has changed many things about how we interact with language.
We’ve now got spell checkers and autocorrect; tools that eliminate the risk of spelling mistakes more than ever before.
That being said, none of these new functions have reduced the importance of knowing how to spell in the first place. Spell checkers are not bulletproof, and autocorrect often has a mind of its own.
Most importantly, nothing can replace the basic, fundamental skills that learning to spell offers.
Making spelling fun
Children as young as three years old will begin to explore the English language and how it works. However, it’s at around six years old that kids move away from their own ‘invented spellings’ and start to learn how to spell for real.
Learning to spell is obviously a gradual process, and the more complicated rules and conventions will come later. But it’s important for children to begin learning the basics as early as possible.
However, most children find spelling to be challenging, or boring, or both. This often leads to resistance. For kids with learning difficulties, like dyslexia, spelling can be particularly difficult.
So how do we remedy this?
Many spelling techniques are dry and uninspiring, built around rote learning and repetition. This is a real turn off for kids and can be extra daunting for those learning English as a second language.
However, with a few simple tricks, learning to spell can actually be fun. Learning resources don’t have to be dry and tedious. For example, these worksheets will help kids engage with spelling lessons more enthusiastically.
But, there are also loads of games that can take the fun factor to the next level. Spelling games offer kids an alternative way of learning — more engaging and exciting, but just as important and effective as traditional teaching (if not more!).
These five spelling games will help you keep your class entertained, and ensure that your kids learn to spell at a good speed, with a smile on their face! It will also have them looking forward to subsequent classes, which is just an added bonus.
Spelling games for kids: Bananagrams
Bananagrams is a simple version of Scrabble that can be played without a board, and comes with the added amusement of its banana-shaped carrying case. You could even make your own version of the game by printing out tiles. These can easily be found online.
To play, students are divided into teams, and each given a set of tiles. Teams must create interconnected words using their tiles in the same way as Scrabble. The first team to use up all of their tiles with correctly spelled words wins the game.
Bananagrams is great practice for general spelling skills, as well as challenging kids to think outside the box and expand their vocabulary.
Spelling games for kids: Crosswords
Crossword puzzles are a great way to help children explore word association and understand their meanings while reinforcing proper spelling. If they know a word but still don’t spell it correctly, the words connected to it won’t make any sense.
You can create your own crossword puzzles using appropriate vocabulary for your specific lessons. Make sure you’ve included enough clues to make solving them relatively simple.
Add a little competition into the mix by dividing your class up into pairs, and declaring the first pair to correctly complete the puzzle as the winners.
Spelling games for kids: Word search
Word searches (and more complicated versions like Boggle) are a great way to expand vocabulary while improving spelling at the same time. These spelling games also help kids recognize common relationships between certain letters (‘q’ and ‘u’, or ‘c’ ‘e’ and ‘i’, for example).
They are also an easy activity to prepare, and suitable for all ability levels. All you need to do is put together a word search sheet of relevant vocabulary that you’ve already studied, and leave your students to it.
You can add extra complexity by encouraging your kids to write sentences using the words they discover. Or, make it competitive with a prize for the first to find all the words!
Spelling games for kids: Hangman
Hangman is a classic. It’s a great way for kids to learn about accuracy, common letters, and the overall shape of words. This spelling game helps children identify words even when missing letters, and reinforces common rules and spelling conventions.
Best of all, you can play Hangman with just a pen and paper. Decide on the word (from recently studied vocabulary) and give your kids the task of saving the stick man with their amazing spelling skills!
Spelling games for kids: Online games
Finally, there are some excellent online games that help reinforce what you’ve covered in class; giving kids the chance to practice their spelling, either on their own or in groups.
Online games make learning to spell even more interactive and fun. Our favorites include classic games like word jumbles, memory games, and fill in the blanks.
For something a little more interesting, there are exciting racing and adventure games with added spelling elements. For example: they must solve a small word search or crossword puzzle before unlocking a new character or opening a door.
5 spelling games for kids to try today
With these spelling games, you can ensure that learning to spell becomes a fun activity — one that keeps your kids engaged and focused, while they develop this fundamental skill.
Best of all, spelling games are incredibly flexible, and can be changed to fit the level of every student in the class! So, enjoy!
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