Teacher! Teacher! How do I spell…?

When a student approaches you and says, “How do I spell fish?” Your first response might be, “f-i-s-h” or maybe ” /f/ /i/ /sh/” or possibly you might say to them in you teacher voice “go stretch out like you’ve learned!” Yes, I have most likely done a little of each of these! However, as I am maturing in my teaching and learning so many great strategies from other teachers and presenters I’ve learned some great tips to help those kiddos that want you to help with their spellings.

It’s important to remember that writing time is actually a time of problem solving and thinking.  During writing students are able to focus and mature on both problem solving and thinking!  For young learners it’s highly important to give students a concrete way to problem solve during writing.  There are so many awesome ways to do this!  Also, more than just having a concrete way to problem solve children should also be encouraged to think out loud during writing.  Thinking out loud is extremely important for students to make the connection to their writings.

Remember that invented spelling is A-Ok!  However, there are some words that should be considered no excuse words.  This list includes; a, of, was, and, that, in, the, to, I, is, it, & he.  Now in Kindergarten it’s likely your students will not come in knowing these words and depending on how you introduce your sight words it’s possible they might know all of them until the end of Kindergarten.   Another important aspect to writing is writing patterns!  If children know word families they will have an advantage when writing unknown words.  About 1/2 of the high frequency words follow word families. 

If a student is asking for help to spell a word it’s usually a good sign that they are conscious of their writings and want to succeed and please their teacher. However, as a teacher is can become very overwhelming when your students become so worried about the spelling of a word that they forget about the rest of their story. 

When conferencing with a student during writing think about giving 2 praises and 1 prompt.  We know our young writers are super proud of their work and it’s our job to commend them on that!  Okay now to some strategies! I am going to list them for easy access!!

– Give them a song!

Sound It OutTo the tune of: If you’re happy and you know it

If you have a new word, sound it out.
If you have a new word, sound it out.
If you have new word,
Then slowly say the word.
If you have a new word, sound it out.An alternate version to the song according to how you phrase it in your room could be ‘stretch it out.’

– Try really hard to not give the student a “go try it on your own!” response.  Most likely the kiddo has tried it already and is having a hard time finding a starting point.  Yes, I know there are some kiddos that will ask you how to spell each and every word.  For those students say, “what’s the first sound” or “what sound do you hear next?” 

-Connect stretching/sounding out words to body movement.  Have students count out the sounds on their fingers or try; head, tummy, toes to find sounds.  Head, tummy, toes will need some teaching about not getting out of your seat, but doing it sitting down.  That is unless you want them to stand! 🙂  When stretching out a word using the body have the students wiggle and restate the word; c-a-t, wiggle cat!

– A lot of times students want to write about how they feel so make a feelings chart!  It’s a lot of fun to connect the feelings chart to characters the students have read about. 

-Create a spot where students can reference highly used words, but words that will most likely be too difficult to spell on their own.  Now you most likely have a word wall already so this is a little different.  The following picture is the once I’ve created for my classroom!  I already had this HUGE cookie sheet, but you could easily do it on your whiteboard or use felt.

The cards have small magnets so that the student can quickly grab the word and head back to their seat.  In order for the cards to be placed in the correct spot I have color coded a small star to each card and the header.

This system would take a little teaching and it’s possible you wouldn’t start day 1 with this, but it’s a great system to strive for!

If you would like to grab these super cute headers and cards you can click below.  The packet is for sale in my TpT store for $4.

Click the picture above to view the product on TpT
If they can think about it – they can talk about it, and if they can talk about it they can write about it!


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