Along with every other 4th grade student, I want to avoid “write the spelling words 3x each” spelling homework. I am actually not against that kind of homework (especially if the students are writing the words in cursive) since I think it builds a motor memory, but we all get bored with it. One new activity I am using is a Spelling Doodle. Students use every word on the weekly list to design a word doodle. The challenge is to think of various ways to group the spelling words. Students use a combination of phonics knowledge and word meanings to create word categories. Not only do students practice writing spelling words correctly, they are also activating their knowledge about the ways letters combine to create words, word usage, and definitions of the words.
Give the student a piece of white copy paper and some colored pencils or fun pens. Using all of the spelling words in a list, students create groups of words and label each group with a title. Kids write the words and then add doodles and illustrations to the page to make it colorful and appealing. Talk about the words by sharing the group types. We came up with all kinds of ways to group last week’s words.
- Syllable Count (group by how many syllables a word has)
- Same Root, Prefix, or Suffix (look for common word parts)
- Same Spelling Pattern in the Beginning, Middle, or End (look for repeated letter groupings, my SPELLING LISTS are created around a spelling pattern or rule, so my students were not allowed to create one giant grouping for all words on the list)
- Same Starting, Middle, or End Letter Sound
- Common Situation (look for a way to group words based on an activity like words you might use at a construction site or while going to a movie– this reminded me of games like Taboo)
- Common Topic (look for words that have a theme like baking or sports)
I told my students they should try to have 2-4 words per grouping, but if they ran out of options at the end, they could create a group that contained only one word as long as they provided a title. We used colored pencils at school, but I got out the Sharpies when I worked on my samples at home. Definitely add color. If you need an alternative to calling out words when studying for a weekly spelling test, give this spelling activity a try. It works in the classroom and at home.
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