Welcome! I’m participating in the Bright Ideas Blog Hop organized by Shelley Gray from Teaching in the Early Years. Here’s a bright idea for teachers and parents to help visual learners with spelling:
Do you know a child who practices the spelling list, completes the spelling homework and then proceeds to miss the words on the test, and more importantly, in writing?
Visual learners often struggle with learning spelling words using common look-say-cover-write-check practice strategies. One of my sons is not a strong speller. He’s a creative, visual-spatial learner, and it finally occurred to me that he needs to practice his words differently. Good teachers teach with learning styles in mind, using lots of color and movement activities. In my experience though, spelling homework assignments are usually less visual.
Although current brain research questions the idea of left-brain or right-brain dominance, there is no doubt that different brains learn differently. Some kids are great at memorizing lists and data, so typical spelling practice activities usually work for them. Others are better at visualizing and remembering pictures, so for them, a visual component is necessary to really get the spelling words to stick. (Of course, regardless of learning preferences, we know that all kids can benefit from a variety of auditory, visual and kinesthetic activities to activate the whole brain.)
I’ve started helping my son practice spelling in a way that capitalizes on his strengths and appeals to his creative, picture-loving brain, and he’s making improvements. Here are a few spelling practice ideas for visual learners to try during homework time, or during practice time in class:
Picture the Words: Write the word in large bold letters. I use a marker for this. Make the trickiest word part a different color. (I always use red.) Draw a picture in and around the letters and make up a little story about the picture. (Picture/story should somehow relate to the word itself.) At first, I asked my son to tell me what to draw. Now he draws and makes up the story himself. Check out this video from for an example of this technique.
Box the Words: Putting the words in boxes helps visual learners picture the shape of the word. I start by asking my son how many sounds he hears when a say the word aloud. If he hears 3 sounds, I write 3 lines in three different colors. Then we write the letters that represent each sound on the line. Finally, we outline the whole word with a dark black marker. Then think…What does the shape remind you of? Can you make the word shape into a picture. (Like on the PBS show, Word World.)
Color the Words: Write the word three times. Trace the letter(s) that represent each sound in a different color. I always make the trickiest part red. Brainstorm words with the same spelling pattern. Trace the letters that represent the pattern all the same color.
Choose the Word: To develop the skill of recognizing correct spelling, write a word three ways and have the child cross out the wrong spellings and choose the correct one. (
stae, stay, stai) I make a list of ten or so, and my son races to see how many he can get correct.
Tell a Story with Letter Characters: This is sort of like the Picture the Words activity, but this time, think of each letter as a character with personality traits. Tell a story about the characters in the word. You can read E-mergency! by Tom Lichtenheld to get you in the letters-as-characters mindset.
Act out the Words: Use your arms or whole body to act out the letters in order to spell the word. Spell the word forward and backward. Close your eyes and picture what it felt like to form each letter as you spell the word in your head.
Teachers, be sure to check out the other bright ideas!
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