Monday, January 28, 2013

F-U-N with Spelling!

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 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.


  1. I use SpellingCity when my parents are asking for more spelling homework. In fifth grade we've been trying to ease away from spelling homework, so parents that are interested in more activities appreciate uploading the spelling list and using the activities, lessons, and testing functions.

    Even more so, when we get to the hectic fourth quarter and no longer assign spelling homework, SpellingCity is a great review for the Science MSA with the already loaded Science Word Lists organized by grade and subject.

    1. Liz, I love the idea of uploading MSA related vocabulary to SpellingCity. At the moment, my principal is strongly encouraging the intermediate teachers in my school to reinforce academic vocabulary in the weeks preceding MSA, but it's very difficult to engage learners when you're simply defining "compare" or "identify" each week. I like the idea of using SpellingCity to review those vocabulary words.

  2. Mandy,
    My kids would have loved this when they were in ES! I think it is a great tool for kids to interact with the words independently. Does it give users scores or any kind of feedback regarding their ability to spell the words?

    Liz - in MS, students often confuse studying for a test with studying for vocabulary words. In general, I think we all need to teach kids how to study for tests that are based on content, not just vocabulary.

  3. Natalie I couldn't agree with you more. The more I hear about middle school from you, the more I worry that my fifth grade students are not prepared for middle school. I often teach test taking strategies, but spelling does seem to be the subject that is overlooked. So you make a great point to stress that the content is being assessed, not just the vocabulary. Thanks for the middle school reminder :)

  4. Natalie, I could have used this when I was in elementary school too! I was/am an awful speller; thanks whole-language! I'm not sure if it gives any sort of feedback. That's a great thing for me to explore as I look further into it. Thanks for the suggestion!!
    Liz, I know there are vocabulary games for students to play on this site, but it's part of their "premium" membership (which means it costs money). I agree that it's important to teach the content too, but the good thing about teaching vocab to intermediate students is that you can discuss prefixes and suffixes and root words. This will help students when they encounter words and will be able to gain a better understanding of them and, in turn, the content being taught.