Five Spelling Tips for Teaching Beginning Readers

  1. Teach spelling in conjunction with reading.
  2. Use spelling to enhance phonemic awareness.
  3. Use word lists with consistent patterns to teach spelling rather than random word lists.
  4. Use a spelling game to practice spelling words (see previous blog).
  5. Save words with difficult spelling patterns for students who are not beginning readers.

Beginning readers will learn to spell more quickly and easily if their spelling words are the same decodable words that they are reading in decodable stories. Teach beginning readers to spell words with a fun activity rather than by rote repetition.

Teach spelling by building words with letter tiles and manipulating them to create new words. This helps students to recognize the separate sounds in words.  In turn, this helps students to be able to decode words when reading.

Our brains are designed to recognize patterns that make sense.  For beginning readers and for struggling readers, learning that is based on consistent patterns will transfer more easily to reading and spelling new words.

Repetition helps to build memory. Playing a game while learning how to spell builds in the necessary repetition while keeping young students engaged. Manipulating letter tiles is a very different activity than writing the spelling words.  Each activity is of value when used appropriately.

Save the spelling words that are exceptions to the rules for older students rather than confusing your beginning readers.  For instance, the words meat, bread, and steak have the same spelling pattern in the middle of the word, /ea/, but the /ea/ in the middle of each of these words has a different sound. Do not include words in your spelling lists with  different sounds even though they may have the same spelling pattern. Teach beginning and struggling readers to spell using lists of words with the same sound and the same spelling pattern.