Have you seen my Word Study series? It’s all about approaching spelling in a different way. Instead of giving everyone in the class the same list, you assess your students and put them in word study groups. The groups are fluid and change as students advance or need extra instruction. Each group is given a different word sort for the week.
What are word sorts? They’re groups of words with two or more different patterns that students read, analyze, and sort. Instead of endless reciting, copying, and workbook pages, children do hands-on activities to reinforce the spelling patterns.
After assessing my daughter’s spelling to find out her level (learn how to do that here), I found that she’s in the Within Word Pattern stage of spelling. That just means that we’re working at patterns within words – usually differentiating between short and long vowel patterns. You can find our previous lessons here:
Lesson #1: Short a, a-consonant-e
Lesson #2: Short a, a-consonant-e, ai
Lesson #3: a-e, ai, ay
A lesson for spelling long e words
1. Start with the weekly sort. Have your child (or students) cut out the words.
2. Guide your child as she sorts the words by pattern. You may decide to name the patterns for her or let her figure them out herself. I let my daughter work at it herself, but when she got stuck I named the patterns: short e (like best), long e with a single e (like me) and long e spelled ee (like queen). If your child makes a mistake while sorting, bite your tongue and see if she catches it later.
3. After she finishes sorting, have your child read the words out loud. This is the time to correct mistakes if your child doesn’t find them herself. Have her name the spelling patterns as she reads the rows. (“Short e. Step, bed, men…”) Next, have your child glue or copy the words into a word study notebook.
4. On another day, start with a word sort again. You can try many different varieties of words sorts. For ideas, see this great post from This Reading Mama.
5. Some time during the week, pull out a spelling game. You might find a game designed just for your word sort, or you can play a game that can be used with any word list. This week we played The Great Pumpkin Challenge — even though the word sort was easy, we played the game a few times because my daughter enjoyed it so much. Read more about the game here.
6. When the word list is tough – such as one requiring a lot of memorization like a-consonant-e and ai words, we do a lot of extra sorting and games. (Some other games we’ve played are my free Spell It! and Climb the Ladder.) But since this week’s word sort was pretty easy, I thought I’d pull out an extra challenge: a word hunt.
We searched for words that fit our pattern in familiar children’s books. I recommend doing a lot of modeling and sharing of this activity before asking a first grader to do this on her own. (I learned this myself when my daughter resisted this activity!) But even if your child isn’t crazy about word hunts right away, keep trying them — they are so valuable because they give your child an opportunity to apply spelling patterns to real reading and writing.
7. If you’re a classroom teacher, you’ll have a weekly routine that will end with a Friday test. But if you’re homeschooling, you have a lot more freedom. When you think your child has a good grasp on the pattern, give a spelling assessment. Don’t be afraid to spend an extra week (or two!) on a challenging sort.
And there you have it! If you were hoping for more challenging long e patterns – stay tuned! That’s coming up next.
Here’s what you’ll find in the download:
- page 2 – Word Sort
- pages 3-7 Word Sort for pocket chart
- pages 8-12 Great Pumpkin Challenge spelling game
- page 13 Word Hunt
And if you’re looking for printable games that you can use with any word list, we highly recommend this ebook. Many of the games are editable!
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