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Updated: May 12

Spelling is a key literacy skill which helps us to communicate. Some children are naturally good at spelling and with minimal effort, achieve full marks each week in their spelling test. Other children will require a little more help in their journey to becoming competent spellers. Either way, learning to spell doesn't need to be a boring chore...let's take a look at a fun approach to teaching spelling!

spelling using magnetic letters
Fun spelling activities for kids

The Elements of Spelling

When teaching children to spell, it is useful to build children's understanding of words. You should consider:

  • Phonology: the sounds which letters make individually or when they are combined. The national curriculum states that, 'Phonic knowledge should continue to underpin spelling after key stage 1; teachers should still draw pupils’ attention to GPCs that do and do not fit in with what has been taught so far.'

  • Etymology: think about the origins of the word and its history - where does the word came from? How is it pronounced? What is the word's meaning?

  • Morphology: look at what the word looks like, the syllable patterns and units of meaning; including prefixes (e.g. unhappy, disappear), suffixes (e.g. jumping, copied) and compound words (e.g. airport, superstar)

  • Orthography: think about the way which the letters are arranged in a particular sequence.

Spelling Activities

If you need some engaging activities for teaching spelling, forget about endless copying out onto paper and try these enjoyable hands-on ideas instead. They're perfect for home or school! It is also worth noting that cursive writing, rather than printing is of great benefit when learning to spell, as it helps with muscle memory and remembering the way that a word 'feels'.

Rainbow Write

Write the word in pencil and then trace over it three times using a different coloured crayon, felt pen or colouring pencil.

colouring pencils in a circle shape
Rainbow writing using colouring pencils

Rainbow Scratch Notes

Write the spelling words on scratch notes, to reveal the rainbow colours beneath. Scratch notes are readily available in shops or online and make a fun change to normal paper!

rainbow scratch notes spelling
Spelling on scratch notes

Keyboard Words

Use a real keyboard or just print a keyboard image out on card. Type each word out three times. This activity will also help children with their typing skills!

card keyboard printout
Practise spelling on a real keyboard or a printout keyboard

Roll a Spelling

Make a key to show children which colour they should write in, according to the number they roll on a dice. Roll and then write the spelling that number of times in the colour shown. For example, if a child was learning to spell the word 'school' and they rolled a 2, they would write 'school' twice using blue colouring pencil or pen.

roll a spelling activity
Roll and spell activity

Hidden Words

Tell your child/ren that they are going to become secret agents! Ask them to write each word on paper using a secret marker or spy pen. Then reveal the spellings using a UV pen or ask children to check that each other's spellings are correct.

hidden words activity using a UV pen
Hidden words spelling

Scrabble Spelling

Use scrabble or magnetic letters to make the spelling words. If you have a set of letter stamps, children can also make their spellings using these, by printing on paper or card. Having to search for each letter will help children to remember the word more easily!

Scrabble spelling activity
Scrabble spelling

Tablet Typing

Use Notes (or similar) to type out the spelling list. Using technology is sure to attract your child's interest! Again, this activity is also useful for developing typing skills.

tablet typing activity
Learn to spell by typing words out

If you have any fun and engaging spelling activities which you'd like to share, please drop them in the comments section below!

You will find a great range of hands-on phonics resources here:

If your child is at an early stage of learning to spell, you'll enjoy this introduction to early spelling and segmenting.

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