'Ridiculous' words in Year 3 spelling tests.

(43 Posts)
Oblomov Mon 28-May-12 22:23:09

Ds has a spelling test every tuesday. They have a sheet of 24 words that they write every day. On friday it comes home and we talk about it, go over it, over the weekend. Then on tuesday he has the test.

But the last few words in the list, over the last few weeks, have been so hard that I think they are ridiculous. This week they start off with : car, poem, rhyme, rhthym, but wait for it, then then go onto :
and this is the one

I showed it to dh. He said, 'you've got to be kidding'. I said ' they are only 8. This is wrong.'
What do you think?

ZZZenAgain Mon 28-May-12 22:24:32

I agree with you but could it be that they have been using these terms in literacy work with poetry?

Rubirosa Mon 28-May-12 22:29:23

I don't see the problem to be honest. Surely you want them stretched a bit and kids like learning interesting words.

Oblomov Mon 28-May-12 22:35:26

oh. o.k.
Maybe I am a bit out of touch with what children that age can learn.
He has had :
enthusiastically, unbelievably, biodegradable , in the last few weeks. I just thought those words were too hard to be learning at such a young age. But if you think it is o.k., I accept your better judgment.

SugarBatty Mon 28-May-12 22:39:15

I think all my 8 year olds homework is too hard! Similar spellings to what you have mentioned and as for the maths! (Sorry numeracy)

My dd copes ok with it all tbh, maybe I underestimate the capabilities of an 8 year old.

Rubirosa Mon 28-May-12 22:39:29

I have no "better judgement" about it confused I do remember having paraphernalia on a spelling test in about Y4 though grin

Is your DS getting upset about these words?

Oblomov Mon 28-May-12 22:42:56

Paraphernalia ?? shock Good god ! smile I'm sure I never even came across that word until I was a teenager !
No he is totally unbothered by it all. It was ME ! I was shocked by how hard it was.

Rosebud05 Mon 28-May-12 22:58:57

I don't think alliteration is particularly hard tbh, as it's phonetic.

Onomatopeia is trickier, but paraphernalia is also quite a straight forward word to work out if you know phonics, isn't it?

Somersaults Mon 28-May-12 23:06:13

If your child is coping with them then I don't see the problem. Surely you should be pleased that they are giving words that challenge him instead of his spellings being too easy and boring?

CecilyP Mon 28-May-12 23:24:01

If they have to learn spellings, it would be more useful if they had the words they are likely to use in their everyday writing. If they can already spell all the words they use in their everyday writing, they really don't need to be doing spelling tests.

Juniper904 Mon 28-May-12 23:26:20

We set spellings based on spelling patterns. For example, words that start with mis or dis. We find it makes more sense than random spellings. I still have parents who tell me their DC can read all the words and know what they mean. I say great, but it's a spelling test, not a reading test...

BlackholesAndRevelations Tue 29-May-12 07:37:49

Haha, you have to wonder why he also has "car", though. Really? Wtaf is the point in that, if he's capable of spelling onomatopoeia?

BlackholesAndRevelations Tue 29-May-12 07:40:29

Ps- cecily- spelling tests are often given for the parents... hmm

crazygracieuk Tue 29-May-12 08:13:51

I think the only ridiculous aspect is that there are 24 words on the list. If the school wants to do a spelling test they should maybe do an easy/medium/hard list. Our old school have 5 to easy group, 8 to medium and 12 to the hard group.

I don't think that alliteration is very hard because it's phonetic and that the hardest bit of onomatopoeia is the "poeia" bit which wouldn't take long to read.

Frontpaw Tue 29-May-12 08:15:27

Bloody hell - what school is this? I thought ours was bad. We have words then need to put each one into a sentence... We have had bereavement in the past.

Sirzy Tue 29-May-12 08:19:27

As it starts with car I woul imagine it is a case of "red group you learn up to number 8, green group up to number 15 and purple learn them all" in order to allow for the test to be easily differentiated.

Other than the word car it is pretty obvious that the words fit in with what they are looking at in literacy. Spellings are supposed to push them a bit otherwise it would be pointless.

flagnogbagnog Tue 29-May-12 08:43:30

Yes my year 3 son has very similar words to that. I have been shocked but he hasn't complained so I'm not mentioning it to him. Not everyone in his year group has the full 20 to learn every week. Depends on their ability, some have five, some ten etc. The first 5 are relatively easy, and then build up to harder words. I think only the top whatever percent of the year are expected to try the hardest words. And they are generally related to other projects they are doing in school.

PastSellByDate Tue 29-May-12 09:10:56

I'm not expert, just a Mum who surfs a lot about primary education, but it does appear that they are using terms from school work (alliteration linked to ?poetry work and biodegradable linked with ?environmental work/ geography).

The issue for you is one of whether your DS is struggling or not. If this is too hard for your DS then perhaps you should speak with the teacher.

I think what is slightly unfortunate is that it seems the system is one of rote learning (so learning to parrot, but possibly not necessarily to understand) - however, for some students this old-fashioned approach does work.

More recently there seems to be an argument that spelling is learned better through word families/ roots (so understanding -ough/ ought words, -tion/ -sion words, prefixes, suffixes, etc...) (e.g. teaching morphemes here: www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/no14_nunes.pdf


Elibean Tue 29-May-12 09:34:52

My Y3 dd has had some weird ones recently too - not hmm at them because they are so hard, really, but just odd words to choose! Not ones you'd use often. I think the reason is they are linked to work they have done.

At least they only get 15 in her school!

thegreylady Tue 29-May-12 09:58:54

Most DC love learning really hard words and you may find that onomatopoeia is one that will be remembered. Dh and I used to play a game with our DC when they chose a hard word to learn to 'show off to grandparents or other family. DD aged 4 chose catastrophe and DS aged 7 chose manoeuvre.

PollyParanoia Tue 29-May-12 10:16:36

Bloody hell, my y3 ds only gets 6 or 7 and even that is challenging enough to us. He always gets them right but were I to test him on them a week later wouldn't have the foggiest. I'm not sure how useful it all is.

rabbitstew Tue 29-May-12 12:18:43

I don't object to my child learning to spell words they use in class and understand. I would object hugely to my child learning to spell words they didn't understand. I don't personally remember being taught what onomatopoeia was until secondary school, although obviously I had plenty of unwitting experience of it in poetry and books that I had read!

I would rather my children had to put their words into sentences (which they do at their school) than that they just learnt them as lists of spellings, tbh, because at least then it would be a test of whether they did genuinely understand them. My dss' school seems to go for the lists of spellings based on spelling patterns rather than based on what they are learning in class at the moment, which I think is useful for learning to spell, as it reinforces the fact that there are patterns in spelling, but it does result in some words that are actually very difficult to put into sentences and not related to anything they are learning (ie without the requirement to put them into sentences, it could easily turn into an exercise of learning how to spell for one day something you never use in your life again, because you have no clue what it means)! The lists normally result in a discussion about other words with similar meanings and the connections and differences between words and forms of words (eg explanatory-explanation, aggressive-aggression, honourable-honoured, decision-decisive, dispossession-dispossessed, conclusion-conclude, explosion-explosive) as ds works his way towards thinking up a sentence with the actual word in it and not a related word/the wrong form of the word.

Rainydayagain Tue 29-May-12 12:28:08

I would never object to a word that a child did not understand, why would you. It is a learning opportunity!

You never know whAt the teachers plan is.

Oblomov Tue 29-May-12 12:28:32

Well thanks for all the posts. I did think 24 was alot, but they do go from easy to harder. And like sell-by says, they are often based on similar pre-fixes or suffixes - such as : finally, eventually, enthusiastically.
Like others gave said, he seems fine with it all, is not struggling at all, and gets nearly all of them right, so it was just ME that was shocked. But, no more.

parachutesarefab Tue 29-May-12 12:31:23

I remember DD1 having onomatopoeia in Y2 (now Y5) - I remember it as it was the first spelling that I didn't know, and yes, I thought it a bit ridiculous.

The kids thought it was wonderful having such a long, complicated (impressive?) word to learn, and enjoyed using it in their work afterwards. So their teacher was right.

I do think that 24 words sounds like a lot.

Interestingly, in Y3 they don't have spelling tests, they have activities based around what they've been doing that week in phonics. But spelling tests return in Y4!

rabbitstew Tue 29-May-12 12:31:32

I would object to a word my child didn't understand if they were only being asked to write out the words a few times and learn how to spell them. That's just stupid.

rabbitstew Tue 29-May-12 12:35:08

My ds1 has been given quite a few words he didn't understand - as I've said, I don't object to that, because he has to put them into sentences, so has to understand them by the end of the week. However, if it came to a choice between learning onomatopoeia and learning how to spell definitely and separately, I would favour the latter two commonly misspelled words being learnt, because they are more likely to appear in a job application....

savoycabbage Tue 29-May-12 12:35:09

Our teacher (year three) takes the spelling words from each child's writing so this week my dd had 'when' and 'environmentally' on her list.

rabbitstew Tue 29-May-12 12:37:54

(or should I say, misspelt and learnt, for consistency!...)

rabbitstew Tue 29-May-12 12:40:06

Interesting, then, that there are apparently 3 different approaches to weekly spelling lists: correcting something in the child's writing; word patterns; and words used during the week in the lessons. The first approach sounds impressively personalised.

Jupe01 Tue 29-May-12 12:44:45

I have boys in Year 3 and have had similar shock at the content of their spelling tests. One week, they both had 'and' and 'do' in their lists!!! Alongside that, they had 'demolition' and 'congregation'.

I am totally ambivalent about homework in primary school anyway. I never had homework until I went to secondary school. I just enjoyed my free time and played with my friends and siblings. Getting homework was something that bigger boys and girls did at big school. I don't think it did me any harm at all in truth.

Oooh nostalgia is a wonderful thing!! (I do resent the time that my 8 year olds have to spend doing homework at weekends though!)

BulletProofMum Tue 29-May-12 12:47:48

Y2 son had


There was a melt down...

rabbitstew Tue 29-May-12 13:09:16

The words provoked great displeasure in your household, then...

I didn't get homework at primary school, either. It was, indeed, lovely.

Bonsoir Tue 29-May-12 13:10:49

I would love my DD to have 24 spellings in English per week, and they sound just about right to me envy

Jupe01 Tue 29-May-12 13:14:41

So we can add a fourth approach to spelling tests - only do them if your child indicates that they actually want to, and only then, if they don't have anything better to do. It is so liberating!

I suspect that it won't have very much impact on the quality of their job applications in later life if I am absolutely honest.

mrsbaffled Tue 29-May-12 14:46:25

Can your yr 3 kids actually spell words like these?? Really interested....DS (nearly 8) struggles with spellings and has daily 1-1 with the TA doing Word Wasp to help him. He also gets 10 words home a week, but things like "when, there, God, fall". He got "fall" and "God" wrong last week sad I didn't think he was that far behind, but I guess he really is sad

Jupe01 Tue 29-May-12 15:10:19

Honestly, I think my Year 3 sons learn to spell words for the test that follows and then forget then. They remember the words that crop up frequently in Harry Potter (really useful ones like like Dumbledore, Quidditch and McGonegall) Spelling tests are all just exam-focused training in my view, and far too early to instil neurosis - in the kids or indeed, us as parents.

Children will learn to spell if they are encouraged to read right enough. I truly sympathise that you are feeling bad about your son's achievement (Mrs Baffled) when he has barely started primary school. It really is far too early to even think about choosing appropriate words for job applications and the like. We all know don't we that children will learn far more from exploring with their parents and the world around them at this age?

mistlethrush Tue 29-May-12 15:17:36

Ds has been using the word 'alliteration' in his verbal language since reception - so it doesn't sound out of the way to learn how to spell it in Yr 3. Onomatopoeia only came up this year I think (Yr2) but he does definitely know what it means - he wouldn't have a hope of spelling it yet though!

mrsbaffled Tue 29-May-12 15:46:38

Sadly not all children learn to spell by reading. DS is a truly avid reader (6 months ago assessed as 11.5 years with comprehension 12 years) devouring novels in a few hours, but he just can't spell. He has had vision problems, but these have been fixed by vision therapy, so I am hoping his spelling will catch up soon.....here's hoping, anyway! School are doing all they can to help (he's on SA+ with an IEP), but it's not really enough...

LifeBeginsShortly Tue 29-May-12 15:57:50

Oh those aren't ridiculous! But dd1 did get some awful ones in y3 that just weren't words. I can't remember them exactly, because they seriously weren't real words, or were very rarely used jargon type words. For example, "uncumbrence" could easily have come up. "Competencies" certainly did. "Disambiguous" too. And something that was "dis" when it should have been "un" (like unburdened, iyswim).

It did make me snurkle when my 5 year old referred to "split digraphs" rather than the "magic e words" that my dd1 had had at her age!

crazygracieuk Tue 29-May-12 16:13:41

Mrsbaffled- we are talking about top group children. No idea what the average would be but my top group daughter often gets keywords wrong and she's a level 4.

paddlinglikehell Wed 30-May-12 22:44:32

More recently there seems to be an argument that spelling is learned better through word families/ roots (so understanding -ough/ ought words, -tion/ -sion words, prefixes, suffixes, etc...) (e.g. teaching morphemes here: www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/no14_nunes.pdf

Thats very interesting PSB, dd comes home with similar groups, this week is /tion i.e. dictionary, station, relation etc. (Yr2), I thought it may confuse her, but apparently not!!! However, second and minute at the end of the list confused me!!!!

Good to know the school is keeping up!

claig Wed 30-May-12 23:55:04

I don't see 'sprachgefuhl' on the list, so it seems he is not being overly stretched


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