18 Ways to Practice Spelling Words

Child practicing handwriting and spelling

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As your children learn writing and spelling, they are likely to come home with spelling word lists. It’s their job to study and learn the words, but simply looking at them isn’t going to do the trick. They will need some tools to help them remember the words. Here are 18 creative and interactive ways to practice spelling words.

Make a Spelling Word Origami Fortune Teller

These are also known as Cootie Catchers. It’s easy enough to create spelling word Cootie Catchers, and having your child spell the word out loud is very helpful for auditory learners.

Make and Use a “Word Catcher"

These modified fly-swatters can be a lot of fun to use. Give your child a copy of her spelling words, and you might be surprised to see how enthusiastic she is to start swatting the words in all the books, magazines, posters, and papers in the house.

Magnetic Letters, Alphabet Blocks, or Scrabble Pieces

Just as saying the words out loud can help an auditory learner, literally building the words can be helpful for more visual learners. Just keep in mind you might need more than one set of magnetic letters to spell all the words.

Create Your Own Crossword Puzzle

Luckily there are free online tools like Discovery Education's puzzlemaker program to help you make puzzles. All you have to do is type in the word list.

Use Sensory Play

Some kids learn better when all their senses are involved. Doing things like spraying shaving cream on the table and letting your child trace the words in it or having him write the words with a stick in the dirt can help cement the words in his memory.

Play Spelling Word Memory

There are a couple of ways to do this. You can make two sets of flashcards with the spelling words—it’s a good idea to write each set in a different color—or you can make one set with the words and one with the definition. After that, it’s played just like any other Memory game.

Trace the Words in Rainbow Colors

This is a variation on the old “write your words ten times” homework. Your child can trace each word over and over to remember the order of the letters for each word. In the end, though, it’s a lot prettier than a simple word list.

Let Your Child Text the Words to You

This way to practice spelling words depends, of course, on whether your child has a cell phone and what the plan includes. With unlimited texting, it’s easy enough for you to receive the text, correct the spelling if necessary, and send back an emoji.

Use Sandpaper Letters to Make Spelling Word Rubbings

Though it requires a little prep work, this is a fun way to practice the words. Once you have a set of sandpaper letter stencils, your child can arrange each word, place a piece of paper over it, and make a rubbing with pencil or crayons.

Make Word Searches

This, too, is an activity that is easy enough with online resources. SpellingCity.com is a fantastic site that allows you to make word searches and create other activities for your child.

Play Hangman

Hangman is a great go-to game when it comes to spelling words. If you have your child use a copy of the spelling list, it will be easier to narrow down which word you’re using. Remember, you can always use the definition as a clue!

Make up a Spelling Word Song

It may sound silly, but there’s a definite connection between music and literacy. If you and your child are creative, you can create your own silly tune. For the less musically-inclined, try setting the words to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or another nursery rhyme song.

Play the “Add-A-Letter” Game

This game is a fun way to interact with your child. One of you starts writing the spelling word on the paper by writing one letter. The next one adds the next letter. Since many word lists include words that start with the same sounds, it may be challenging to know which word your game partner started writing.

Write a Story Using Each Spelling Word

Many teachers ask students to do this with their spelling words for homework, but you can add a twist by giving your child a topic to write or tell a story about. For example, challenge her to write a story about zombies using all the words.

Highlight the Words in the Newspaper

Give your child a highlighter and a pile of newspapers and time him to see how long it takes to find and highlight all the words on the list.

Play a “What Letter Is Missing?” Game

Slightly different than Hangman and similar to the "Add-a-Letter" game, this game is played by writing or typing the words, but leaving a blank space or two for key letters. Your child will have to put in the correct letters. This works particularly well to practice the vowel sounds.

Act Them Out

Essentially this is playing the game Charades with your child’s spelling words. You can do it a couple of ways—give your child a list of the words and have her guess which one you are acting out or put all the words in a bowl, and have her choose one and act it out.

Put Them in ABC Order

While alphabetizing the list won’t necessarily help your child learn to spell each individual word, it will help him recognize the words. For some children, just moving the strips (on which each word is written) around can help them keep the word in their visual memory.