8 Creative Ways To Make Spelling Lists

Spelling lists are not just for school time and shouldn’t be so boring. Anything you do to increase your child’s vocabulary has a positive effect on them.

1. Make lists from your child’s activities

If they sign up for soccer, grab some soccer books from the library. As you read them together, write down the words specific to the activity. Ask the coach for some help. Activities may be short term like a one time singing group for a special event or ongoing like a dance class (that will have you learning another language – Parlez-vous Français?).

2. Trips & Vacations

We learn so much when we change our environment. Trips & vacations are incredible learning opportunities. You can theme the words to go with your trip. You can just use travel words, or get very specific. Consider letting the kids add words to the list as you go – then they take ownership of the list and are more compelled to participate. (makes a great car activity)

3. Curriculum

If you are homeschooling and using a curriculum, spelling lists are likely to be build in. That doesn’t mean those are the only words you can use, feel free to supplement those lists with your own.

*For early readers I personally prefer lists that reflect the type of sounds we are learning i.e. short vowels (CVC words), long vowels, silent e, vowel teams, blends, digraphs, etc. If of course that’s in keeping with your learning approach to reading.

4. High frequency words

High frequency words are just that – the most commonly used words in written communication in order of use starting with the most common. High frequency words are further divided: The Dolch Word List, created by Edward William Dolch in 1936 , is the first 220 most commonly used words in the English language.

The first 100 of these make up 50% of the language we use.

Also, there are sight words. Originally, researcher Diane McGuinness identified 100 high frequency words with irregular spellings. It is suggested that these words be memorized by sight. However, today most school systems use the look-say reading method and therefore have adopted the the term sight word which can refer to almost any high frequency word. *Note: the look-say reading method was developed for hearing impaired students. Many educators believe it is having a negative effect on our nations ability to spell, comprehend and understand the basic mechanics of the english language. Learn more in Diane McGuinness’s book Why Our Children Can’t Read and What We Can Do About It.

Word Lists

There are many to choose from:

This word list broken up 20 at a time.

This word list is arranged more than 10 different ways, alphabetically, by grade level, just the nouns, etc.

This word list includes color coding and games.


5. Book of the week (this one is my favorite)

Let your child choose a book (or assign him a book) at his reading level and read it aloud to you. Make a list of any new words or words that he struggles with. This becomes this weeks spelling list. Each day do fun things with the list, have him read the book to himself as well as to you or someone else. Therefore practicing the words in context.

6. Topic of study type

Like a unit study. If your kids are studying the life cycle of frogs at school, what a great way to get some new words in. Yes spelling metamorphosis may be unlikely but defining it isn’t!

7. Daily commute

Another idea is to find things along your daily commute and make word lists. The plus here is that your child is going to see the words written out everyday. You can also play scavenger hunt and try to locate any spelling words while you’re in the car.

8. Favorite items

If your child has a favorite item (or something new like a bike for a birthday), use that to your educational advantage. make a list of all the parts or terms associated with that item. For older kids have them research to discover the words and terms.

What to do with these lists? In out next Homeschooling 101 post we will present super fun word work ideas for visual learners and kinetic learners. Don’t miss it, subscribe below!


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~ Regina

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