It always feels incredibly nice when something seemingly completely unrelated suddenly becomes the perfect solution for a nagging problem. For instance, a random rubber band becomes the perfect solution to opening a persistently stubborn lid on a jar of pickles. Or a stretched paper clip becomes the just right answer to an accidentally locked door.
Such was the case earlier this spring when a problem presented itself. My daughter, a kindergarten student, just could not pass her “wh” spelling test. Passing this test with a perfect score was a requirement to be able to move onto the next spelling list. Despite ardent visits to “Spelling City” on the computer, the marriage of “w” and “h” in words like “what”, “where”, “when”, “who”, and “why” continued to elude her. And then… a seemingly unrelated solution presented itself.
For Easter this year I created and blogged about an Editable Preposition Scavenger Hunt using a word-shape font. One afternoon, as I was organizing files on my computer I came across the Preposition Scavenger Hunt and it dawned on me. Why couldn’t I use that same word-shape font to create editable spelling practice for my daughter? With such a form I could easily type in her spelling list using the word-shape font each week and perhaps this would provide the scaffolding she needed to finally remember that sneaky “h”. And so I set to work! As I am sure you have already guessed, the word-shapes worked!
The following Friday her feet had barely left the bus steps when she kneeled in the grass, unzipped her backpack and proudly presented a slightly crumpled, but otherwise perfect spelling test. Now we practice spelling this way each week. Below you will find an outline of the practice schedule we use and pictures of the editable word-shape spelling practice that I created for my daughter. You can find these editable forms at our YouCan2 store.
Creating the practice: As soon as my daughter’s spelling list comes home on Monday night I have her read the words to me and then I quickly sit down and type them into my editable spelling forms. Once printed, I place them in a clear page protector. I recommend using a high quality page protector for durability. I buy mine at Costco and they work great.
Day 1: On Tuesday morning, I always have my daughter’s spelling practice waiting for her beside her breakfast. While she is munching away on banana waffles she practices tracing and writing her words using a dry erase marker. Before rushing upstairs to brush her teeth, she wipes the page protector clean.
Day 2: On Wednesday morning, she traces and writes her words again and then I have her flip the page protector over. Next, I give her a mock text using the word shape boxes.
Day 3: On Thursday morning we repeat Day 2.
Day 4: On Friday morning, I pull the word shape test out of the page protector and I fold it in half. I give my daughter one last test using the word- shape font. She uses a pencil to write in the letter boxes this final time. Next, I correct it and then we flip the folded paper over. I then give her the test without the word-shape font. When finished, she opens the folded paper and corrects her work. I always have some fun stickers set out that she proudly adheres next to correct words.
After seeing how well this worked for my daughter, a second light bulb went off. I should be using this in my classroom! Next year, I plan on sending each student home at the beginning of the year with a page protector, a dry erase pen and parent instructions (these instructions are included with our editable spelling test product). I am excited because the editability of the spelling practice will make it easy for me to send home differentiated lists of words. Of course, this spelling practice could be done in class with a spelling buddy as well.
Next year, I will be teaching a 3rd/4th combination class. The practice I made for my daughter was great for her as a Kindergartner, but I knew I needed something more advanced for some of my older students. So, I began work on intermediate and advanced versions of my spelling practice. Some of my students still need handwriting practice, but others don’t so I created versions that did not include a dotted mid-line. I also created versions that had smaller font and spaces for more words. Check out the images below for examples of our Advanced Spelling Practice in action. This practice is also available in our YouCan2 store.
Last year after watching a second language learner in my class fail their weekly spelling test again and again, I had another aha moment. Why not create a spelling test for him using the word- shape boxes? And so I set to work again creating an editable word shape test that could easily be typed into each week. These editable word-shape tests are now a part of both of our editable spelling products. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Now the aha moments just keep coming! I started using these editable sheets as synonym and antonym puzzles for students to solve. By filling in some of the letters in the boxes, students are challenged to find synonyms and antonyms for any given word. We have a word of the week in my classroom and this has been a fun way for them to think about the word. At the end of the school year, we went on a class fishing trip and I created an synonym/antonym sheet for the verb “fish”. They worked on this sheet on the bus trip there and back. Check out images of these sheets below.
These sheets could also be used to emphasize content area vocab, help young children learn how to write their name or practice sight words. The boxes once written in could even be cut apart to create letter puzzles that students must unscramble. I am positive there are many more ways that these editable spelling forms could be used. We would love to hear from you if you come up with something new!