Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Reluctant Speller

My youngest son Matthew, is not a speller. In fact, he rates knowing how to spell right up there next to his aversion to all foods that are green. As far as he's concerned, spelling lists and spinach were only put on this earth to cause unnecessary frustrations and endless hours of torture.

He's a little dramatic.

He gets that from his father...*ahem.*

His penmanship also leaves something to be desired. If he can concentrate on writing his letters, his writing is beautiful. But if he has to think about spelling words correctly, it quickly turns into something that requires a professor with a PhD. in unknown languages to decipher. Matthew can either write or spell, but not both. (Unless it's the word poop. First word he ever learned to spell and write. Boys. Go figure.)

We have been using Trail Guide to Learning/Path's of Exploration for Matty's history program. This curriculum includes all subjects except for math. Each week, spelling/vocabulary words are introduced, usually from something we're reading. At some point during the week, Matt writes his words down on 3x5 cards, and uses those to play games or quiz himself with. At the end of the day, those cards go into the appropriate envelope on the above chart. (Which grows every week!) So far, the cards are a hit. But practicing those same words on paper has still been a source of frustration...more for me than him I imagine!

Because Matty is a kinesthetic learner, meaning "hands-on", I decided to take a different approach with his spelling practices and tests.

First, I purchased some magnetic alphabet letters from a discount store. I bought 4 packages since there is only 1 of each letter per pack. They were about $1/pack.

Secondly, I dug out an old stainless cookie sheet and sprayed it with chalkboard paint.

Of course, then we played with the new "chalkboard."
I then gave Matt a spelling word off of one of his cards and he spelled it out with the letters.

This is a word that he was having trouble with on paper, but with the letters he got it right on the first try.

He didn't get all of them right, but he was able to see and fix his mistakes.

And the second day that we did this? He got all of his words correct.

For the very first time!

Matthew was so excited that he wrote me a little thank you letter.

Guess we have a few more words to add to the list.☺


Carolyn Renee said...

What a great idea! And what a sweet (albeit grammatically incorrect here or there, lol!) letter to Mom!

small farm girl said...

How sweet!!!! It is a good thing you are so inventive.

MamaTea said...

That is a GREAT idea - my darling boys aren't spellers either and I have struggled with how to make it work better for them. This is something that just might work for them! (Oh, and I hear you on the "poop" thing...darn boys!) I LOVE that letter. What a sweet boy!

Candy C. said...

What a great idea and I'm sure it helps give him a sense of accomplishment that he can get the words right now! Love the thank you letter! :)

Freedom Acres Farm said...

This is exactly why I LOVE Charlotte Mason's gentle approach in Homeschooling. No boring lists to study! Copy work and dictation (in a very simple form) take the place of lists and is much more interesting. At least my kids think so. To learn more check out It really does work! I have 3 graduated that spell fine and the next batch of 3 are coming right along :-)

Susan said...

I LOVE that letter! It's a saver! I think the best way for kids to learn is to be able to learn the best way for them. Kudos to you - what a wonderful job you are doing.

Michaela said...

Oh my goodness! I LOVE the letter!

Laurie said...

Love the chalkboard tray. When my son was a younger, struggling speller, he did his spelling words in shaving cream. He loved it....and usually he did better with his words!