At my school, students don't start a spelling program, with weekly words, homework, and tests, until they enter first grade. When we first start spelling in November, the students are very excited and motivated. Often times, they see their older siblings doing spelling homework and want to do spelling too. They are also still at an age where tests are fun and they look forward to doing them. (I wish that would stay forever!) But, just like we discussed in class how the simple novelty of technology wears off, the same thing happens with spelling. After getting words and taking tests for a month, the students aren't as motivated because something it's not as new. They need to be actively engaged and making connections with their spelling, thinking about how spelling will help them become better writers and readers.
One way that I do this in my classroom is with a Web 2.0 tool called SpellingCity.com. This website has a ton of tools that help students not only learn their spelling words, but they can interact and manipulate with them too. It's great because you can upload your own words. The activities on the site range from finding missing letters of words, matching words, and testing words. I really like how there is an audio feature of the site too. Often times young students are still learning to read. It's great that they can listen to the word as well as seeing it. This is especially helpful for my ESL students who's parents may or may not be able to read and speak English as well as my below grade level students who already struggle with reading it writing. It helps everyone feel successful.
If you don't know the site, check it out! It's really a helpful tool to use in the classroom.
This is a screenshot of one of the games. It's a memory game that also reads the word out load that you pick!
This is a favorite with my first graders! It's like hang-man, but it's called hang mouse. You play as the mouse and you are trying to get the cheese by spelling the word correctly before the cat wakes up!
Here's a screen cast of one of the activities. It shows you how the site uses audio and visual to help students learn their words better than rote memorization.