Is there a best way to learn to spell a word?
Can we trust spelling rules?
Does read, copy, write, work?
Should you write a word out 3 times? 5 times?
Can phonics help?
Are you ready to use the 3 activities?
You need a word to learn. If you've come to this page from the Wordskillz™ Spelling Quiz, you, or your learner, may already have a word. If you haven't done the Quiz yet, click on this link.
NOTE: Are you using this method to help someone else? You can do the Quiz with them, then help them practice the method. Or just sample the method yourself for now.
Got your word? Let's get started!
Learn to Spell any word with Sensory, Memory and Linking Activities
Hi, I'm Janet, an educator who specializes in helping people build and repair word skills. I've helped thousands of people get the skills they need and now it's your turn ...
You're about to learn the Wordskillz™ SMiLe Formula© for learning spelling words! If you remember to 'SMiLe', you'll remember to use the 3 activities in the right order:
Wordskillz™ SMiLe Formula©
- Sensory Activities are a great place to begin. They're fun to use, and work like magic! Use all 4 steps and you'll be amazed!
- Memory Activities work like crazy glue to make spellings stick in your brain. These 4 steps strengthen and reinforce spelling efforts.
- Linking Activities connect the word being learned to one already known creating an unbreakable bond. These last 4 steps makes it possible to remember the correct spelling first-time-every-time!
Before you learn the best activities for learning spelling words ...
There is something you should know. No one ever misspells a word, at least not a whole word! At most, one or two sounds will be misspelled. So for example, even if the word 'speech' is spelled like 'peach', only one of the four sounds is being misspelled: s p ea ch.
In the directions below, you will focus attention on particular sound-spellings, the parts of the word that give you, or your learner, the most trouble. If you think about it, this makes a lot more sense than thinking of the whole word as being a problem. If you have a flat tire, you change the tire, you don't replace the car!
When letters in words are being learned or fixed, don't make the problem seem bigger than it is. Take credit for what you, or your learner, has done right. Then focus your attention like a laser on the spot where it's needed.
Are you ready to use the Wordskillz™ SMiLe Formula© on your challenging word?
- Look at the word and say the name of each of the letters.
- Don’t look at the word and say the letter names (pausing between letter groups if helpful).
- Still not looking, repeat the letter names over and over to a steady beat. Repeat the letter names out loud a few more times saying them faster and faster.
- While saying the name of each letter, finger draw the word in the air at head height using big letters. Then, do the same while finger-writing on the forearm.
- Write the word on a blank sheet of paper and underline any difficult sound-spellings. Then take a coloured pencil and outline the challenging sound-spelling(s). Now, take a different colour and closely outline the shape of the word.
- Write the word again in large black letters and hold the page up high. Look at the word. Then close your eyes and try picturing the word in your mind’s eye. Still with eyes closed, name each letter, and in your mind’s eye, highlight challenging parts with imaginary colour.
- Cover previous writing and say the names of each of the letters as you write the word from memory with the eyes closed and/or write with the hand not normally used.
- Make up a memory trick such as a spelling pronunciation or saying. You can:
- Say the word the way it’s spelled not the way it sounds. For example, say ‘fry’ ‘end’ to remember the spelling of ‘friend’, or sound the silent letter to remember the ‘b’ in ‘climb’.
- Say “I’ll stands for I will”, or “Add a hyphen to show numbers belong together in ‘fifty-two’”, or “Add an apostrophe ‘s’ to show something belongs to something else.”
Finally, fold away previous writing and say the memory aid out as you write the word.
- Find a word or two with the same sound-spelling and link the two words to compare them:
- Choose words in which the letters make the same sound, or not, such as 'eat' 'meat' or 'eat great bread'.
- Add suffixes, like 's' or 'ed', if you can’t find similar words, For example, link 'phone', 'phones' and 'phoned'. Or if the problem is a result of adding a suffix you could link ‘dropped’ and ‘stopped’.
- Find other words that have hyphens or apostrophes. For example, link ‘sixty-four’ and ‘fifty-two’ and ‘you’ll’ with ‘I’ll’.
- Once you have a word or words to link to, write the word and linking word(s) as you say them. Then underline the sound-spellings the words share.
- Make up a sentence that includes the words you want to compare. For example, you could say, "I'll phone her once I've phoned you." If you confuse the spelling of two words that sound the same, you could say, 'I'll have two too." or "Their house is there."
- Then write the words as you say the sentence, and underline the sound-spellings the words share.