Spelling and Summer Fun!

May 5, 2010

Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

This summer we are trying something different – we are going to try to do some learning – while making it fun.  There are a few things that I want to work on with the girls – Arabic – Islamic Studies – Reading – Spelling – Writing and Mathematics.  It sounds like a lot – but we are spacing things out – and we don’t intend to have a full day each day or each week.  Things have slowed down a bit here – we are finished with our regular coursework – and unfortunately, we have all been sick with a nasty cold, alhumdulilah.  We are hoping to also have plenty of time to do outings at parks, museums, the zoo, etc. this summer – when we aren’t sick and the weather is good, insha’Allah.

I am starting to put our spelling lessons together today to implement this summer.  In fact, the kids are working on their first lesson right now.  Anyway – I thought I’d share our ideas with you, in case they can inspire in you something you can implement in your own homeschooling experience – whether as summer fun or as regular coursework, insha’Allah.

I can’t say enough about how much I really love the books written by Wiley Blevins.  I have two books in particular that I use – Phonics from A to Z and Teaching Phonics & Word Study.  Right now, we are focusing on Teaching Phonics & Word Study.  The book gives good ideas on lesson plans and gives extensive word lists based on different spelling rules.  So, for example, I am starting at the beginning with a rather simple rule (consonant-digraph words) in particular, /ch/ as in the word cheese.  The book provides a long list of (1) words that begin with that rule (2) words that end with that rule and (3) what I like to call challenge words – multisyllabic /ch/ words.

First, I printed off the list of words to place on the wall in our school room.  I then used several tools that I love to use for spelling (even during the school year) for all our word lists.  Now, one thing is different about what we are doing this summer.  Usually, the girls have separate word lists – but my 1st grader is actually at the same ability level as her sister who is in 3rd grade (makes my life a lot easier, alhumdulilah).  So, I am setting up all these tools for the girls to use together as a team.  So, when I print off a crossword puzzle or word search, I am going to have them work together to find the words instead of having them work separately.  They really love to work together – so this should be a bonus!

  1. Word Search – There are other online tools for making a word search, but I like this one better because the letters all line up nicely together – which makes it easier to find the hidden words.  Since the word list is so long, I just picked a few words from each column to put on the word search.  You can also create word searches here.
  2. Crossword Puzzles – I created two crossword puzzles.  I created one puzzle that only had some of the words I selected on the beginning /ch/ list.  I then made another puzzle with words that were on the final /ch/ list.  I labeled the crosswords with either beginning or ending /ch/ to let the girls know which list to look on when determining what the words are.  I really love this tool – again – there are others online, but this one works well for me, alhumdulilah.  You can also create crossword puzzles here.
  3. Definitions – I then had the girls choose 5 words that began with the /ch/ sound that they didn’t recognize.  They also had to choose 5 words that ended with /ch/ that they didn’t know.  They had to work together to find the definition of each word in the dictionary and write them down.  I just found the girls goofing off (ha ha) – actually, instead of looking up the words in our dictionary – they went to the computer and are searching the word meanings online.  Here is a link to an online dictionary that they use – Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online, Scholastic Word Wizard (they like this one), and Word Central.
  4. Writing – I am also going to have the girls choose 5 words that begin with the /ch/ sound to write into sentences.  They will also have to choose 5 words that end with /ch/ to make into sentences.  For fun, we are also going to change things up a bit.  This week – instead of writing boring sentences – we are going to try to make up a few tongue twisters that use the /ch/ sound.  Other times we will try to use the spelling rule to create poems as well.  Another suggestion I have found is to take a newspaper or magazine clipping and have the kids highlight every word they find that has that spelling rule in it.  Who knows, the kids might enjoy it?!?
  5. I also placed their word lists (not the entire list, but words I have chosen from those lists) online for them to play online games with.  I have three particular websites that I use for this purpose – and we use these even in our normal daily schoolwork.  The kids love using these sites and it has greatly improved their scores on spelling tests.  Each week this summer I am intending to put their word lists there for them to practice.

As I said, we are trying to make this fun – and I am not expecting the girls to sweat over this – but it is more of a review for them.  Over the past few years they have been learning most of these rules in their regular coursework.  I am hoping that doing this will improve their spelling and reading skills, insha’Allah.  I am thinking that they will do just a small amount of work each day to improve their skills – and I am hoping to cover a word rule a spelling rule a week, insha’Allah.

There are plenty of places online where people already have word lists – but I have full confidence when using Wiley Blevins book that I am covering everything and I understand why/how he has put his word lists and books together.  If you are interested in just using a word list that has already been put together for you, here are a few sites to check out:

Spelling City – you can see word lists that other people have posted

Kids Spell – has word lists already put together for you

PlayKidsGames - has word lists already put together and listed by grade level

WordWay – word lists, games, activities, and more!

Words of the Week – dolch word lists, games, activities, and more!

Mc-Graw-Hill Treasures – make sure to check out everything here.  Click on the left-hand side of the page to select workbooks that you can print off.  Select National or selec a state to see what books are available.

Mc-Graw-Hill Treasures (Teachers) – has more awesome stuff for you to do!

Education Place – more word lists, games, and activities.

Free Reading – Find phonics, spelling and reading activities.

TLS Books – spelling worksheets

Zaner-Bloser – spelling practice pages

There are also many sites that have spelling games with their own word lists.  Here are a few:

Knowledge Adventure

ICT Games

EduPlace

Houghton-Mifflin Online Crosswords

Houghton-Mifflin Online Word Searches

Hougton-Mifflin Word Builder

Hougton-Mifflin Word Sort

Houghton-Mifflin Word Find

Harcourt-Brace Spelling

There are a few other resources that I use for spelling lists.  I did not use them with the list we are using this week – I am thinking to change up the activities week by week to make it more interesting.  So, here are the other resources I use:

  1. Word Scramble Worksheets (Make Your Own)
  2. Word Shape Puzzles (Make Your Own)
  3. Double Puzzles (Make Your Own) My kids really love these – I usually make the message funny or personal for them.
  4. Spelling Worksheets (Make Your Own) I use these often – just click on the grade level to see what is available.  You can also make your own writing worksheets here.

Aside from all of that, I am also intending to play a spelling game with the girls that I invented.  It’s called Follow the Rules.  I’m going to have to play it with the kids a few times to see how it works – but I think it is going to work out well, insha’Allah.

From time to time I am sure I will come up with other ways to make these spelling lessons more fun.  I’m really trying to get the girls to practice (a word they hate) without realizing it.  While they usually HAVE TO practice with their regular schoolwork, this is a time for them to have more fun (and learn too!)

So, are your working on spelling – or do you have any other good ideas for spelling practice?  I’d love to hear more from you (everyone has been so quiet lately I think I’m talking to myself, LOL.)

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,

Sumayyah Umm SAA

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