Spelling In My Room

At my school, we don't have a spelling curriculum, per se. As a gifted teacher, I don't use the basal which is where the rest of the team gets their spelling lists. Over the years, I've tried a few different spelling programs and I've never loved one enough to stick with it.

I've asked if I could just do away with the traditional spelling list-spelling homework-spelling test cycle in lieu of the real word work we do in the classroom, but it seems that parents expect spelling homework and the spelling test and for now, I'm stuck with the status quo.

So I've come up with lists that follow a phonetic pattern that are a bit challenging. I store them on SpellingCity.com so I can just sign in and find a list that looks right for the upcoming week. I need to name them in some sort of order for next year unless I find some other program I like before then.

On Mondays we copy the list into our spelling notebooks and glue in the tic-tac-toe sheet for the week. I try to have the kids tell me what the words have in common and identify the phonetic pattern or spelling rule. Then we discuss the meaning of the words and talk about any words that are new or unfamiliar. Here's a peek at the notebook. They do all the homework in this book so I don't have to collect papers and return them all time.

Three nights a week, the kids do a "spelling square" from the tic-tac-toe page. I'm currently using these from Second Story Window and these from Jen at The Teacher's Cauldron (both free!) I've been planning to make some of my own, but seeing as how it's now March, it's not looking likely for this year! On Thursday night the homework is to have an adult give them a practice test in the notebook. In the third picture you can see the stamp I had made from Vistaprint. It says Spelling Contract - Checked for Completion. It's my way of letting the parents know I checked to see that the homework was completed, but I didn't necessarily check it for errors. I usually catch the big mistakes, but I really just skim over it when I check their agendas in the morning. The bottom picture was just kind of funny from this week's test. Obviously, she was really, really trying to get the word question right! I think consequestion is a pretty cool word, myself!

Each week, I give the kids a bonus sentence as part of their spelling test. I usually make up a sentence that uses as many of the words as possible and I dictate it to them on the day of the test. They don't practice it beforehand. It always blows me away when a kid spells the word right on the test and then misspells it in the bonus sentence! They also have to use correct capitalization and punctuation. If they get it all right, they get to add a bingo number to our classroom incentive chart.
I've recently had kids spontaneously start making up bonus sentences and showing them to me before the test. Now it's become a real source of pride if I pick their sentence to use on the test! It's also really helping them think about building better sentences all the time, not just for spelling. I always have a volunteer write the sentence on the board after the test and we make any needed corrections so the kids can see how they did right away.

I also try to give them one more task on the test. For example, this week I asked them to put a star next to the compound word. I may ask them to underline a synonym for a certain word, or the word that has 3 syllables, etc. I guess I just like to squeeze as much out of that test as I can!

I have a few more ideas to share with you about how I have the kids work with their words in the classroom during the week which I'll share as part of Show and Tell next Tuesday.

And before I go, a big congratulations to Jennifer Ayers who won the Carson Dellosa 24 book library giveaway! If you're not Jennifer, don't feel too sad, I've got another great giveaway right around the corner!

Have a great weekend, my friends and don't forget to set your clocks ahead on Saturday night!


  1. I have individualized spelling in my 1st/2nd grade classroom. Thank you for sharing these ideas as I really like them and think that I will use them next year:)
    Primary Classrooms are Oceans of Fun

  2. I am going to let one of mine create/choose the bonus sentence this week- they will feel like a super star!!'
    Great idea
    Go Nutty with Me!

  3. Thanks for sharing how spelling is done in your class. I struggle with word study vs. spelling lists and tests all the time.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  4. Thanks so much, Denise! Love the spelling info also!

    Jennifer Ayers
    Best Practices 4 Teaching

  5. Love your ideas for bumping up the spelling test! In my little, imaginary/happpy place I teach GT :)

  6. Great ideas. I'm bookmarking this post for sure! Thank you Denise

  7. Brilliant! Thanks for the great ideas!

  8. Are you willing to share your spelling lists?


Back to Top