As you well know, I’m a little wordy. I’m the kind of gal that gets excited about a blank notebook, a sharpened pencil and a long stretch of time in which to fill up those pages with every little imagining.
So, it is really important to me, as my kids’ teacher, that they grow to be inspired and awed by the power of words.
But, it ain’t easy. Of course, we read a lot as a family. The kids dictate their stories to me, and then illustrate them or add in a word or a sentence or two of their own. At some point though, you just have to do the hard work of learning to spell, write and read words that don’t follow the rules all on your own. When you are just learning how to do those things, it doesn’t feel awe inspiring, it’s like learning scales on an instrument – necessary, but a far cry from the beautiful music in your head.
I guess I can’t speak for all children, but as for mine, they aren’t the sort that learn well in a traditional read it, drill it, do a worksheet format. They really need to see a thing, touch it, taste it, turn it around, step on it and stick it in their ear before it becomes meaningful to them, particularly things as “dry” as spelling and sight words.
So, I can’t tell you how many different ways we’ve tried to make their study of these things interesting, or at least a step above drudgery.
I hope that in sharing our ever-growing list of word study ideas, we will help a little person you love come to know the magic of words too!
A few of the things we’ve tried with our spelling and sight words:
* “carve” them in bricks of playdoh or clay with a toothpick or skewer
* smear shaving cream on a tray and then trace them into the cream with a finger
* same thing, but with sand
* same thing, but with coffee creamer. We have a jar of the French Vanilla kind that we reuse again and again for this purpose. My kids love it, because it smells good.
* Make them with magnetic letters, or letter tiles
* Cut out letters in magazines and paste them on paper to make the words
* “write” the letters with glue sticks and stick on shredded bits of paper to form the words
* write the words (LARGE) with markers, and then cover the lines with stickers
* cover colored paper with dark crayon, then “etch” out the words with a fingernail or chopstick
* write them on a chalk board or dry erase board and then erase them with a tracing finger
* use buttons or toothpicks to form the words
* paint the words
* make long play doh snakes and bend them to form the letters
* use those dot markers (like for Bingo) to make the words on paper
* type the words on an old typewriter
* email the words to a friend or family member
* record yourself spelling the words and play it back
* make a video of yourself spelling your words – we did ours by holding up one printed letter at a time and more or less YELLING the letter, then cutting to a shot of the whole word while everybody screamed it. It was so very Sesame Street 🙂
* string words together using alphabet beads
* stamp the words with alphabet stamps
* sidewalk chalk
* Invisible Ink! Just have the child paint the letters on paper with lemon juice. Then, when dry, hold them up to a light bulb (100W) or iron them (put a towel between the paper and iron). You can ask your little learner if they remember how to spell the word, then he can check himself when the invisible ink appears.
* body letters – try to spell out the word using your body or fingers.
* movement – try to hop, clap, stomp, snap, sway your hips or spin while you spell the word
Phew! That’s a lot of word play!
I’m sure there’s lots more fun activities out there. Do you have any tricks for helping your littles learn their words?