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Best methods for teaching spellings (yr2)

(26 Posts)
MumbleJumbles Thu 06-Mar-14 10:23:12

My DS is a great reader (one of the highest boys in his class), but not that good at spelling. He is still writing words down phonetically and whilst he receives spelling homework each week (which consists 3 words per week, chosen specifically for each child by the teacher, using examples of the child's work for that week and picking words they've repeatedly spelled incorrectly in their work), he's still not improving at his spelling.

Does anyone have any great ideas about how to help a yr2 child with their spelling? Books / online games / etc etc? I was always under the impression that reading would massively help spelling (i'm sure that's how I became such a spelling nut!), but it doesn't seem to be helping my son and he reads A LOT! Teacher not worried at all, but I wanted to improve things as he is beginning to say he hates doing literacy work because he writes loads but gets marked down because teacher picks up on all his spelling mistakes.

columngollum Thu 06-Mar-14 10:32:13

apples & pears?

How bad is the situation? (What can he spell?)

The only real way of learning to spell is repetition, observation and practise (in the absence of a brilliant memory).

MumbleJumbles Thu 06-Mar-14 10:38:44

He wrote me a valentines card, and spelled valentines "valoontighns"

His spellings this week were people (which he spells "peepol"), about and forward...

I'll google apples and pears

smee Thu 06-Mar-14 11:41:21

If you've got an iPad get the Squeebies Spelling app. You put whatever words they need to learn in and they type, so learn through repetition. It gives the child autonomy, as it takes the pressure of them writing/ feeling like you're standing over them. Also they get fun animated rewards as an incentive. Once they say they're confident get them to write them. It's stopped spelling being a battleground for us, so definitely worth a go. smile

columngollum Thu 06-Mar-14 13:26:58

It's not really the children's fault because lots of children are encouraged to spell "using their phonic knowledge" which (at our school) means figure out some supposedly phonically plausible method of spelling a word. (And if you look in some KS1 assessment documents they talk about phonically plausible spellings). So, it's no surprise that some children come out with these unbelievably ridiculous letter-jumbles.

Some children don't mind parents drawing their attention to the way words are supposed to be spelled. (I can imagine other children hating it.) But, if you're lucky enough to have a weird child, who for some reason enjoys talking about words, then discuss words as often as you can.

mrz Fri 07-Mar-14 06:51:15

We use spelling voices in class - say the word precisely in syllables which would eliminate the "oo" he put in valentines
using your example of valentines

so split it to val - en - tine

I would say well done that is a way to spell the sound /ie/ bit in this word it is the "i-e" spelling can you write it correctly now?
and get him to correct it (obviously not on your card)

for people I would look at the word with him and get him to identify which bits he finds difficult - <eo> for the sound /ee/ & <le> for /l/ by focusing him in on these it helps to remember

MrsKCastle Fri 07-Mar-14 07:11:45

I agree with mrz, and would also try to draw attention to words with similar spellings. For instance the 'le' ending in people is very common, so I would show him others like table, bottle and try to collect more from his reading. Keep lists and encourage him to add to them. Then when practising 'people' I'd ask him to practise some of the others as well.

Flexiblefriend Fri 07-Mar-14 07:25:52

I'd second the suggestion of the squeebles app if you have an iPad or iPhone. I got it for DD after seeing it suggested on here and she loves it.

MumbleJumbles Fri 07-Mar-14 13:25:40

We don't have an ipad unfortunately, a samsung tablet....wonder if you can get it for android, will look it up.
Thanks for all the suggestions though - I, personally (and probably wrongly) blame phonics. I didnt do phonics as a child and my spelling is brilliant (sorry, boast but true!) whilst my husband DID do phonics and his spelling is atrocious.

However, DH went on to study european languages at Uni and has said time and again that the english language is just not a phonetic language,(unlike, say, italian). So attempting to teach it using phonetics might get kids writing and reading quickly, but causes upstream issues such as spelling.
Hmmm....I'm thinking lists, lists and more lists hmm

maizieD Fri 07-Mar-14 14:04:25

Sorry, I don't think that learning spellings by typing is a particularly good idea. Not unless he is only ever going to write on a computer or similar. Spelling is in part reliant on kinaesthetic memory and it is reinforced better by hand writing words (saying each 'sound' as it is written) than by typing them.

There are masses of extracts from research into spelling (including the kinaesthetic angle) on this page: It is long but worth reading if you want to understand how best to help.

Apples & Pears is good.

maizieD Fri 07-Mar-14 14:08:59

DH went on to study european languages at Uni and has said time and again that the english language is just not a phonetic language,(unlike, say, italian). So attempting to teach it using phonetics might get kids writing and reading quickly, but causes upstream issues such as spelling.

I think this data proves him wrong:

Download the 'Sounds~Write Research Report'

NewBlueShoesToo Fri 07-Mar-14 14:26:17

Try these:
Write a word in black pen, get him to go over it in a colour then another colour, then a third.

Write words on post it notes and stick them in obvious places round the house.

Make words with magnetic letters on fridge.

Make up and say sentences with words with the same letter patterns. Eg a light might give a fright at night.

Learn ways to remember particular tricky words: because Betty Eats Cakes and Uncle Sams Eggs,
Could Oh You Lucky Duck

Cut words up to make jigsaw puzzles

Write words with eyes closed

Look say write check sheets

Buy special gel pens for working on spellings.

I used lots of these with my Year Twos. It's a case of finding what works best for each child.

I would encourage learning words in sets of phonetic patterns. Ruth Miskin stuff is fab.

Good luck.

smee Fri 07-Mar-14 14:59:56

Waving to Maizie, who's right of course but we've had this argument before… Obviously each child is different and the typing app has made a ginormous difference to my son. We tried pretty much all the things suggested above and others, but in the end it was the spelling app which worked. He still gets to write them, but only once he's confident. All I meant was it's worth trying. If it works it works surely!

maizieD Fri 07-Mar-14 16:41:20

There's always an exception, smee (waves back).

mrz Fri 07-Mar-14 16:55:34

Saying the sounds rather than the letters as you write the word helps

Flexiblefriend Fri 07-Mar-14 19:10:25

I'm with you smee, the app worked for DD, mainly because she enjoyed it, and saw it as a game, not a chore. I'm sure that writing out the spellings would be more effective, if you could persuade her to do it for so long, but in reality that is never going to happen.

MarmiteChocolate Fri 07-Mar-14 21:55:54

another vote for squeebles here. I've got the spelling and the times tables apps on my android tablet and dd loves them.

hippo123 Fri 07-Mar-14 23:22:27

Your not alone op. My year 2 dc is great at reading but can't spell the most simple of words. Off to have a look at this squeebies thing.

smee Sat 08-Mar-14 12:01:52

mrz, that's interesting as we've found that helps, so when he uses the Squeebles app my son breaks the word into sounds before he types.

flexible, yep that's the same for us. Ideally writing's the way, but if they're reluctant and an app gets you there why wouldn't you!

Feenie Sat 08-Mar-14 12:17:57

Am I alone in thinking it hilarious that CG suggested Apples and Pears? grin

mrz Sat 08-Mar-14 13:26:50

Writing adds an extra level as it creates a motor memory which isn't so strong when typing.

I've been biting my tongue Feenie this is the second thread where she's made the recommendation ...then argues that phonics doesn't help spelling on a third hmm

columngollum Sat 08-Mar-14 13:31:28

Phonics can spell better than a monkey with a typewriter. (Perhaps probability theory can to, come to that.)

Feenie Sat 08-Mar-14 13:31:31


Feenie Sat 08-Mar-14 13:33:06

That of course was to mrz.

So did you type that then, CG, or your monkey?

mrz Sat 08-Mar-14 14:09:10

she still can't see the irony of recommending a synthetic phonics spelling programme I'm afraid Feenie wink

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