02 Mar

It’s so much fun teaching vocabulary and spelling! Add these easy ideas to your teaching toolkit. Have a great time helping your child or students learn new words, then correctly spell them. Vocabulary and spelling go together like peas and carrots!


  • Teach new words before reading a chapter or book.
  • Look up where the words came from originally (etymology).
  • Make word lists to study as you read a selection.
  • Use new vocabulary in everyday conversation.

Easy Start Vocabulary Builder #1   

Fold a piece of paper into thirds–plain paper or construction paper is fine. In column one, list the unknown word while the child is reading. After reading, go back and look up the definition online or using a student-friendly dictionary. Write the definition in column number 2.  Then, develop a sentence and write it in column number 3. You can also put this on a big chart you keep in your teaching area or classroom. Keep reviewing the new words and use frequently so they are remembered. Write down the unknown word or place a bookmark in the book, then keep reading. Or you can stop and do the activity right then. Either way works.
Click here for a free printable version of this organizer.

Easy Start Vocabulary Builder #2

Notice there are six ways to learn a new word. First, write the word or phrase.Then define it, use in a sentence out loud and written, think of a synonym or antonym, and determine what part of speech it is. Then draw it! What does the new word look like to your child? This is a cool organizer because you can use all or parts you need.
Click here for a free printable version of this organizer.

Vocabulary Boosters Chart

This is ready to use over and over. Place the new word in the middle circle. Then say it, write it, define it, use in a sentence, write a synonym, antonym, note the part of speech, draw or make a representation of the word, sing or act out the word. Use the new word often! Perfect!
Click here for a free printable version of this chart.


  • Teach the consistent rules and apply them as appropriate.
  • Always use correct models.
  • Transition “inventive” (made up) spelling as early as possible, but definitely before third grade level.
  • Practice makes permanent. Correct spelling practice makes the learning stick.

Traditional Practice Drill “Spell and Check”

  1. Fold construction or plain paper into thirds (hot dog fold).
  2. Number three columns. Fold the columns into the middle.
  3. Student writes the spelling word in the middle. Make sure it is correct to start.
  4. Cover over the middle, folding over the right side flap.
  5. Child writes the word in the left column with the middle (correct spelling) covered.
  6. Open the fold, checking correct spelling in the middle. If incorrect, write it again then recheck.

Paper Plate Spelling 

Make two sets of alphabet plates, all in capital or lower case letters. Plain white paper plates from the dollar store are great. Your child manipulates the plates to spell the new words correctly, then writes the correctly spelled word(s) on a piece of paper. Two or more children, a class or family can easily do this activity. I’m sure this will be a huge hit.

Triple ‘S’ Spelling Success Strategy 

  1. Using an index card or paper, have your child hold the correctly spelled card above eye level. If right handed, hold above left eye, and reverse for lefties.
  2. Tell your child to make a picture of the correctly spelled word. Make a camera “click” for each letter.
  3. Stop and trace the word in the air using a finger, nose, elbow, foot or arm.
  4. Then have your child write down the correct spelling on a piece of paper or the back of the index card.
  5. Flip the card or paper over to check for correctness.
  6. If there are errors, rewrite using color, drawing near the word, put a happy face to make the correct letters stand out.

Be sure to practice sight words using basic lists such as Dolch or Fry. Sight words must be memorized; you can  use these same strategies.  Reading with your child helps you teach vocabulary, then master the spelling. A perfect combination!

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

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