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Language and Communication use a strategy to remember spellings  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Establish one or more preferred methods of learning the spelling of words, and use the methods to spell high frequency words.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Writing
P-scales/Curriculum level:L2b
TAP skill:Writing
TAP level:TAP68
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments

A4 paper

Thick marker pen

Paper and pencil or pen for pupil to use.

1. Ask the pupil to visualise (see inside their head) something familiar: e.g. their TV and what's on top of it, beside it, etc; or their kitchen.

2. Write words in large unjoined lower case letters in thick felt tip on A4 paper - maybe important bits in a different colour or larger.

3. Hold the word up in front of the pupil.

4. Discuss visual features (e.g. two o's looking out of the middle of the word school).

5. Pupil shuts eyes and tries to 'see' the word.

6. Ask 'What colour are the letters?' 'Change the colour' 'What's the first letter?' What's the last letter?' 'Put the letters inside a picture' etc.

7. If the pupil gets something wrong, ask him/her to have another good look.

8. The pupil writes the word down, and checks it is correct.

9. It may help visual recall if the pupil looks up towards his/her top left when trying to remember the word.

Phonics is especially important in spelling, but it is not enough. Pupils need to remember the spelling of specific words. Phonics will make some bits of any word easy to learn. When using the methods described here, focus especially on the bits which are difficult to remember.

Research has shown that if pupils establish their own best method, it helps them remember words better.

Some people find it easier to visualise with their eyes open. If your pupil prefers to do it this way, allow it.

If they can say the letters in reverse order, this is a good sign they are visualising the word.


Paper - A4 size or larger

Thick felt tip

Pencil and extra paper to write on

1. Write the word in large joined handwriting on a large piece of paper.

2. Say the word slowly, and discuss meaning if necessary. Pupil repeats word.

3. Ask the pupil to examine the word, noting any tricky features.

4. Trace over the word with your forefinger, saying the letter names aloud as you come to them - say the whole word again at the end. (You are modeling this for the pupil.)

5. Ask pupil to trace the word, say the letters and say the word.

6. Pupil repeats a number of times, until he/she can 'feel' the word in his/her hand.

7. Pupil writes the word from memory at the top of a sheet of paper, and checks it is correct.

8. Pupil folds paper, and writes again a number of times from memory.

9. Pupil writes the word in a sentence.

Use the style of joined handwriting the pupil uses or is being taught.

When he/she is quite confident with tracing, you may want to ask the pupil to trace with eyes closed, and focus on the movement.

It is important the pupil checks at every stage - otherwise he/she may be learning a misspelling.

Spelling pronunciation

Pencil and paper, or whiteboard and dry-wipe pen

1. Select a word the pupil is finding it difficult to spell.

2. Explain you are going to say it in a silly way that will help the pupil remember the spelling.

3. Pronounce it in an artificial way that reflects its spelling rather than its usual pronunciation (e.g. "Wed-nes-day" rather than "Wensday").

4. Ask the pupil to repeat the word the way you have said it.

5. Write the word, showing how you are spelling each of the parts you have pronounced.

6. Pupil writes the word while pronouncing it in this way.

This is useful for irregular words, especially those containing 'silent' letters or vowel sounds that are not very clear.

It assumes the pupil has enough phonics to allow them to spell the word the way you have pronounced it. For instance, if you emphasise the "or" sound in motor, this will only help if they know that this sound is spelled with the letters o and r.

Examples of other spelling pronunciations are fry-end for friend, skissors for scissors,
k-nife for knife.

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