Thursday, November 15, 2012

How I Teach Spelling...for FREE!

Last year when we began homeschooling, I approached the entire process with an air of caution.

After all, it was our first year and we had no guarantees that this was going to work with Emma.  And quite frankly I didn't really want to sink a ton of money into a bunch of stuff that, if homeschooling didn't work, would inevitably sit in a corner somewhere collecting dust.

Anywho, in my quest to be a big cheap-o, I decided that I would get everything for free or as cheaply as possible.  After all, we are teaching a Classical Education here.  And if Laura Ingalls didn't need an entire curriculum set mailed to her every year, then neither did we. 

So to the old internet I turned (because of course Laura Ingalls had that, right?).  Let me tell you there is a ton of curriculum available for spelling.  There are also tons of free programs for spelling.   I stumbled upon a really neat website called Super Teacher Worksheets.  They offer 3 types of worksheets which are, word copying, an alphabetical order activity, and a word scramble.  I used these for about half the year last year and then they up and started charging membership rates.  While the membership is only $20.00 a year, I am still too cheap to pay it.  And while I no longer have access to printing their worksheets, I can still see the spelling lists and access a few of the other worksheets for other subjects (it will be indicated with either "free" or "member"). 

I really took to the Super Teacher word lists because the words are words that kids will actually use.  After looking at several curriculums for spelling and talking to other moms, I was very aware that there are a lot of spelling programs with some really stupid word lists.  I care more about if Emma can write "Dear Grandma" than I do about her being able to spell the word "anemic".  Because seriously, how often do you use the word anemic, and other stupid words like that? (Sorry if you're anemic, it's not stupid...leave a comment.  I'll pray for you)....

Anywho, last year when Super Teacher pulled the rug out from underneath us, I had to scramble to find what to do for spelling activities.  Here's what I've come up with. We have a spelling schedule:

Monday-I make flashcards for Emma to study with while she copies each word two times.  After she's written them all out, she reads them to me so I can make sure she knows the correct pronunciation.  Emma copies her words out on a sheet I make on the Handwriting Without Tears website.  It allows me to type in the words on the correct sized lines depending on her grade, and then leaves lines for copying.  I print off 4 of these, as she does this copywork throughout the week. 

Tuesday- Emma copies her words and then she does a word search.  She LOVES word searches so that is what spurred me to find a template.  Honestly if you search out what kids are drawn to, do you find that things are just so much easier?  Or is it just me?  Anyway, I make our word searcher guys at Discovery Education's site .  I haven't explored all of them but it appears there is a whole slew of free resources under "classroom resources". 

Wednesday- we are usually in a rush on Wednesday's to get Emma to her art class, so we just copy words on this day.  If we have time I try to think of fun ways for her to spell them out.  We've used letter flashcards, magnets, writing in shaving cream.  Yesterday I dug out the old Aquadoodle mat and had her write the words with the water pen. 
She seemed to really enjoy that.  Honestly I figure any way they can get more face time with the words and the letters and figuring out how they all come together to make words, that's what it's all about here. 
 
*On a side note, I know Aquadoodle's have kind of fallen off the radar in terms of advertising "I can doodle, you can doodle, everyone, Aquadoodle!"  but if you are looking for a Christmas gift, I highly recommend them.  You just use water, it drys, you go again.  It's great, they make different ones, and my kids love them!
 
Anyway...
 
 Thursday- By today she's getting pretty close to mastering the words, or is just getting bored with the whole writing two times bit, so I often will let her just write them once.  Or we may have a practice test to see which words I can encourage her to study a bit more with the flashcards.  She then unscrambles the words with a worksheet I make at The Teachers Corner. 
 
So there you have it.  That's a general guideline of what I do for my spelling curriculum.  It really seems to be working for us.  Emma loves spelling, I'm not getting huffiness when we do it (you know what I mean!) and she knows how to spell stuff! 
 
A lot of times I switch the days we do stuff so it doesn't get boring or let her choose which worksheet to do.  I should also tell you, just so you know the method I use...I go through the spelling word list, site, Super Teacher Worksheet, and make giant lettered word lists for each week.   I then have these lists printed off and I have them on the desk in front of me while I make the copywork sheets, the word scrambles, and the word searches.  SOOOO much easier.  
 
I then paperclip all of the papers from each week together and have them all in a "spelling" folder so I can just pull out a week and go.  I refer to the giant lettered word list come spelling test time or, if she is really super bored, I can just hand it to Emma and let her cut out the words and glue them on construction paper in alphabetical order.  Then we're all big Weeners. :) 
 
Sorry this is so blah, blah, talking head. Hopefully it's helped you out.  Not just made you want to pound your head into something concrete.   
 
Speaking of concrete pounding, I'd better run.  We've got  Speech Therapy this morning for Cal.  I am SOOOO sick of therapy for him, I could pound concrete on head.  Grrr.  Oh well, thankful I guess that it's available and we can provide him with the best care. 
 
Happy Thursdaying to you :)  And spelling as I am sure that is just totally wrong, tee hee!
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