GreatSchools readers show that with a little creativity, you can help your child practice spelling in the kitchen, the car and at bedtime. Their ideas may work for your child:

Kitchen lessons

“Both my second and third grader love to practice their spelling words, but only when I sprinkle flour on a jelly roll pan and let them trace the letters in the flour,” mom Lea Johnson writes.

Rainbow writing

Connecticut mom Allison Plymouth, has tried a number of games with her four children:

“Some great ideas I have used to help my kids remember their spelling words are:

  • Rainbow writing (trace over the word several times with different colored pencils, pens etc…saying each letter as they trace it)
  • Creating a sheet with several columns labeled read the word, write the word, cover and spell (where they spell the word out loud)
  • Writing each letter in a square, cutting them apart and putting them in order — this is a favorite!”

Car games

“Spelling is a challenge for my youngest son who is now in the third grade,” a Dewey, Arizona, mother of two boys writes. “We have made spelling a game for him while we are riding in the car. If he has a question….he has to spell it out to us. We spell back our answers. He really loves this, and it really gets the whole family involved in helping him with both his spelling and reading ability. This also makes a ride in the car go by a lot faster.”

Sandbox spelling

From a New Hampshire mother of two:

“My son had a problem spelling orally so he wrote the words in sand. We made a small indoor sandbox from a clear plastic storage bin filled with clean play sand. … This helped get the words into his motor memory not just his brain memory. He was calmed by the feel of the sand.”

She adds: “I also think parents should evaluate the types of words that are in the weekly list. It is very hard for many students if the words are unrelated and have different language rules. Focusing on words that are similar in the root form or grammar rule makes memorizing easier. One week my son had a list of all Spanish words from an English based curriculum. Needless to say, he did not do well as we could offer no help in language rules.”


One parent used index cards to craft a game of Memory from the spelling list after she found out her son was failing spelling. You can, too:

  • Write each spelling word on two different cards.
  • Turn them upside down and mix them up.
  • Spread them out on a flat surface, face down.
  • Have your child start by turning over two cards at a time. The goal of the game is to find the two cards with the same word.
  • Have your child say and spell the word on the cards as he turns them over.
  • Then, proceed as you would in a regular game of Memory. If the cards match, remove them from the game. If they don’t, turn them over and try again until all the cards have been removed.

“After doing this together a few times he got them all right on his tests,” this mom reports. “It was much more exciting than saying the word out loud and asking him to spell it.”

Poster practice

Leesburg, Florida, mom Donna Goodwin writes:

“My third grader begins his anxiety on Tuesday for Friday’s spelling test! I started using poster-sized newspaper paper (available at the drugstore) and a big fat magic marker, and write only 5 words on a sheet.

“I find out what the words are the Friday before and begin on that Sunday night by taping the sheet up on the wall in the dining room with the first five words. Each day we add another sheet to the wall with another five words. We focus just on five words at a time, then review the rest.

It’s been helping! I guess it’s the ol’ how do you eat an elephant question…(one bite at a time.)”

Whiteboard whizzes

“I am a foster mom of boys, ages 7, 9 and 11,” another parent writes. “They need a lot of help with spelling, so we practice it often. To make it less like work, they get to write their spelling words with whiteboard markers on a large school-size whiteboard outside the kitchen, on our mirrors and on little whiteboards that we carry in the car.”

A New York father also likes using whiteboards: “Our 7-year-old twins love to play school. They use a white board, which we have attached to the wall, and quiz each other on each other’s spelling words for the week.”

Storytime spelling

Mom Sylvia Diaz writes: “I teach my children ages 6 and 8 years how to spell during our evening reading sessions. Especially, with books that they want Mom to repeatedly read. I sound out words and spell them out until my children automatically memorize them.”

So far, I have great spellers and readers in my house…”

Show why spelling matters

And finally, Willie U. Gonzales reminds us, parents have a key role in demonstrating why spelling is important, as well as helping their kids master the skill:

“I always make sure our daughter pronounces the words properly and even make her repeat the spelling of the word until she can actually see it in her mind. Most of the time she gets it correct, but once in awhile she may put in an i instead of an e. She loves to spell and constantly wants me to quiz her in some words I may even find difficult to spell myself because I’ve been out of school close to 40 years. She has already made up her mind to write a book someday, and she’s only in the fourth grade. I’m working on a manuscript myself, so … she has decided to follow her father’s footsteps.”