Can you teach spelling and vocabulary in a fun way, without the lists and rote memorization? Yes! There are so many fun spelling and vocabulary activities you can add into your homeschool (or do after school with your kiddos who are in a traditional school). Here you’ll find some of our favorite spelling and vocabulary activities and games.
I see so many parents struggling because their kids hate spelling. They spend hours going over spelling lists, memorizing words, writing them over and over and over…. well, I’d hate that too! And I like words a lot. ;) There’s no reason you have to do spelling this way.
Let’s flip the script and show our kids that spelling and vocabulary is NOT boring!
Here are some fun spelling and vocabulary practice ideas:
These activities are geared toward upper elementary to high school, but your younger kids might enjoy them as well! If you’re looking for play-based reading and word activites for younger kids, check out my Play Your Way to Reading program.
How to play Pick
This is a game we’ve been playing a LOT lately in our house. It’s a fast-paced game that uses Scrabble tiles (you could use it with any letter tiles, but if you want to keep score, you need to have the points on Scrabble tiles).
- Put all the scrabble tiles in the center, face down
- Every player picks seven tiles – keep them face down
- When someone says “go” everyone turns their tiles over
- Each player uses their own tiles to make words, connected like their own scrabble board (see the photo above)
- As soon as one player has used all their tiles to make words, he or she should yell “pick!” and every player picks one new tile
- Now every player has the challenge of incorporating that new tile into their words – either by adding it to an existing word or rearranging some of the letters to form completely new words
- At any time that a player has no loose tiles (not used in words), they yell “pick!” – so at any time, players can be adding new tiles to their board — this can move very quickly at times! Ex: if a player gets an S tile and can add it onto a word immediately, they might right away yell “pick!” and grab a D that’s also added at the end of a word, yelling “pick!” again.
- When all the tiles have been picked from the center, the game ends when one person uses all their tiles
- But that person isn’t automatically the winner! Each player adds up the points of their words. Any tiles used twice are counted twice. However, any loose/leftover tiles not made into words are subtracted from those total points. (So yes, you could end up with negative points!)
- You can play where there is a winner each round or add up the points of each round and the winner is when you’ve reached a certain number.
- Rules: we play with typical scrabble rules (no proper names, only English words, no abbreviations, etc) but you can of course make up your own house rules
- Make up your own variations, or try this one: make it more challenging by only allowing four letter or more words
Word of the Day
We love to do word of the day as part of our morning independent work time. You can use a word of the day calendar, a dictionary, or we love this Word a Day book.
Then have your kids explore the word of the day by drawing a picture, writing a sentence with the word, etc. You can do this in a journal, or you can download this free Word of the Day printable.
Sticky Note Discovery
As your child reads, have them write down interesting or new words they come across in their book on a sticky note. Collect the sticky notes and put them on the wall or on a chalkboard.
Look up the words together (or have your older kids do this on their own) and write down the definitions in a journal, on the chalkboard, or on another sticky note to put next to it on the wall.
In my opinion, copy work is one of the best ways to teach spelling and grammar. When kids see and write proper spelling and grammar, it helps to cement it in their mind.
In our family, we like to use Scripture, poetry, or passages of good books for copy work.
Write words down on index cards. Let your kids take turns picking and reading the cards, then acting out the word. Have the rest of your family try to guess what the word is! When they guess it correctly, challenge your kids (especially older kids) to spell the word aloud.
Books are a great way for kids to experience words! You can explore the differences in homophones with books like Chocolate Moose for Dinner. Have your kiddos write and draw their own versions of silly ways to use words that sound or look alike but have very different meanings, like:
- moose instead of mousse
- dessert instead of desert
- bare instead of bear
- flour instead of flower
- night instead of knight
Word puzzles are a fun and non-threatening way to approach spelling and vocabulary words. And it’s so simple for you – you can find them at dollar stores, any big box or book store, or you can even find them free online! You can even find free puzzle makers to make them with a specific word list.
- crossword puzzles
- word searches
- mad libs
- word challenges
Writing poetry is a fun way to explore words and practice spelling. Write an acrostic poem with a word you want them to learn or a vocabulary word from your unit studies. Use unique descriptive words in your haiku.
These free weather poetry printables can be a good place to start with poetry!
For kiddos who struggle with writing, try using magnetic poetry kits. This exposes them to new words, shows them the accurate spelling of words, and let’s them be creative with words without the struggle of spelling the words themselves.
Anytime your kids write, they have the chance to practice spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. This doesn’t mean that every time they write, you need to correct their spelling vocabulary and grammar. ;)
But giving kids writing prompts can be a great chance to practice writing and you can gently correct specific words when you see them – or encourage them to self-correct. Give them a dictionary to practice looking up the correct spelling if you notice a word that’s not correct.
Writing prompts may not be as “fun” for some kids – your struggling writers or kids who are just not as interested in language arts may find this more work than fun. But I think it’s important to add writing in, even if they don’t always enjoy it, but you can do these on a computer or an iPad to make it less stressful for kids who don’t enjoy the physical act of writing. And since computers and tablets have a built in autocorrect, it helps kids to recognize when they have spelled a word incorrectly. Because sometimes kids just don’t notice when they are physically writing a word!
Here are some options for writing prompt printables:
Pick some slightly challenging words and have your kids race to look them up and write down the correct spelling. You don’t need to give each kid the same word! Give them each a word that is on their level and have them race to see who can write it correctly first.
Apps or Online Games
We don’t use a lot of apps or online games in our homeschool, but they can be a fun way to change things up or for a child who is particularly resistant to learning. I would just encourage you to not do ONLY online spelling practice, but include lots of hands-on activities as well.
These are a couple apps that are geared toward younger kids or beginning readers/spellers:
What are your favorite fun spelling and vocabulary activities to do with your kiddos?
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