Let them pick out which words they want to use and learn how to spell themselves!
You can start off with simple 3-letter words when your little one is beginning to read and spell. Build up to more complex words which use a few trickier sounds so that you can practice those too.
They take just a few minutes to make and these alphabet stones give your child a great visual way of word building that you can go back to again and again.
Time: 10 mins
Ages: Little kids to Big kids
Difficulty: Easy peasy
Skill: Learning first word spellings
You will need:
- Lots of small pebbles or dried white butter beans
- Round stickers
- Black sharpie pen
Step 1: Draw letters on the stones
Plan out the words that you and your child want to spell. It helps to write them down first so that you can see how many of each letter you will need.
Using your black Sharpie pen, write the letters that you will need for those words on the stones.
If your child is learning digraphs then you can write these too. Digraphs are two letters that join together to make a sound. So ‘s’ and ‘h’ together ‘sh’ – make the sound ‘shhhhhh’.
A quick note on safety: if you’re using small pebbles, make sure your child or younger children in the home do not put them in their mouths. After using them, store them in a container and place them out of reach of little ones.
Step 2: Make your spelling board
Take a piece of card and stick down 3 round stickers.
Now stick 3 more underneath and continue until you have lots of rows of stickers, one for each word your child will make.
Step 3: Write your chosen words
Look at your list of words that you and your child have chosen to practice spelling.
Write one letter on each sticker for the consonants and vowels needed to spell those words.
Write digraphs (sh/th/ee/ie etc) together on one sticker. This is because each sticker will make one sound. Your child will put those sounds together to make up the word.
Step 4: Start spelling
Your child can now play the game.
Tell them to find the right pebbles for each letter or sound of each word. When they have found the right letter stone, they should place it on the sticker with that letter.
As they place a pebble down you could ask them to say the sound that the letters make out loud.
When they have found all three letters in a row they will have made up a word. Ask them to sound out the letters in the word and then to blend them together to read out the word.
For example they can say the sound ‘sh’ as they pick up their first pebble.
Then, when they find the ‘o’ pebble and place it down they can read out the sound it makes (a short ‘o’).
Now see if they can work out what sound both their pebbles will make together. In this word ‘sh’ and ‘o’ makes the sound – ‘sho’.
Finally they can find the letter ‘p’ and put it on the board to complete the first word and read the sounds ‘sh-o-p’, which reads ‘shop’.
Make new boards with spelling words for the phonics that your child is learning that week at school or that they are interested in learning.
For example they might be keen on ‘ee’ words. So you might write words on the board such as week, tree, meet and sheep to teach them how the ‘ee’ sound is made up.
For older children you might also like to make a board to practice tricky words, which sound the same and rhyme but are built up with different digraphs.
So you might make a board with a mix of words with the vowels ‘oo’ and ‘ue’. You could write down words such as blue, boo, true, tool, etc.
To extend the activity you could ask your child to write down all the words they made on a piece of paper or on a white board. This can help them to learn the spellings of those trickier words and to remember them for next time.