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Free Spelling Course

Marie Rackham, from Splashes From the River, is offering her Basic Cozy Spelling Course free. It contains 30 lessons for grades 6-8. but Rackham used it in the public arena with grades 7-9. You be the judge.

The Course Outline:

Spelling Rules, Lessons, Exercises, Dictation Exercises, and answer keys.

 

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Importance of Spelling

Do you teach spelling in your homeschool? Spelling instruction has fallen out of favor in many classrooms in the last several years. I was never a great speller. I vividly remember being held in during recess to write my missed spelling words over and over. What a waste that was for me. Spelling is very visual for me. Simply writing the words over and over did nothing for me. If my teacher had known about learning styles, she would have encouraged me to write the spelling word in colors (consonants in one color and vowels in another) on one side of a blank card, and then have me draw a picture of how I visualize that word on the other side of the card. My daughter and I are both right-brained visual learners and that is the way I helped her learn spelling words. It works very well. I eventually conquered my spelling demons, no thanks to my fourth grade teacher.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Have you ever spent time wondering about the importance of spelling?

Over the past decade when spelling education seemed to fall out of favor, teachers, administrators, and parents all across the nation learned just how important spelling is for literacy education. The proof was in the classroom! In places where teachers stopped paying attention to spelling, test scores dropped and schools began to experience failure with literacy education (Colvin, 1995).

I hate seeing misspelled words in print. Have you ever found mistakes in newspaper articles or magazines? What does it make you think about their editorial department? Have you ever looked at ads on Craigslist? My husband and I read ads on Craigslist for laughs. You will not believe the poor spelling and grammar. It is a great tool to use to help your child learn to spot and correct mistakes. If you use Facebook, read posts from your friends a little more carefully. I bet you will find small spelling mistakes. I see them all the time. You might not see them because your mind will correct many of them for you. Are you thinking those folks are just not using spell check? The truth is that spell checkers only catch between 30 and 80% of reasonable spelling mistakes. If you are a very poor speller, spell check is not going to be able to decipher what you are trying to spell. Spell checkers only catch about 53% of misspellings of students with learning disabilities.

Here is an excellent article from LD Online about how spelling supports reading. Bookmark this one for future reference.

 

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You’re Never Too Old

Sometimes I forget how older kids, say 6-12th graders, still need to study things like homophones or antonyms. I guess I tend to think those skills are just for the younger kids. Well, they are NOT just for the younger kids. Older kids still have problems with homophones especially.Some examples of harder homophones are things like: boar, bore; allowed, aloud; ware, wear; complement, compliment; meddle, medal…

                             

Are you on Facebook? Do you have kids who are “friends”? Have you ever noticed a problem with homophones when they make a post? I know I have. Spelling is also another big problem. I have to say though, it is not just kids making these mistakes. Do you like to look at Craigslist? My husband and I love to look at Craigslist. We get tickled all the time at the ads folks place. I guess they don’t have any tools to check for correct spelling or grammar. Some are outright hilarious. One of my favorite mistakes that I see quite often is “chester drawers” for “chest of drawers”.

               

I think you can use Craigslist as a fun online teaching tool. Have your older kids sit with you as you look at various ads together. Let them spot mistakes and tell you how they should be written. You will see mistakes such as spelling, punctuation, fragments, improper homophone usage, the wrong name of an item…

Caution:  Make sure you or your kids are NOT drinking milk when you do this learning activity. You would hate to have milk come out of your nose while you are laughing!

 

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Compounds, Contractions, & Possessives=Fun and Games

Confusion is common for kids facing a new lesson, or a more complicated skill. My daughter immediately begins saying she doesn’t understand. Geez! She hasn’t even given me a chance to explain the lesson before that look comes over her face. I know she wants to shut me out without giving it a try. If I am not careful, frustration is next and then you know what happens after frustration hits…yep, she gives up!

Do your kids ever get confused when working with contractions and possessives? Sometimes kids confuse contractions with compound words where the words are joined together to form new words.

          

Possessive words can confuse kids because many times they look similar to contractions. Because of the easy confusion, it is always a good idea to include both in various spelling lessons in order to teach the difference between the two.

Look at these examples:

Possessive using an apostrophe:
The dog’s collar is new. (singular, one dog)
The dogs’ collars are new.(plural possessive)

Possessive without an apostrophe:
 Its collar is new.
 Her necklace is new.

 Contraction of two words such as:
it and is; is and not; I and would
 It’s a new collar.
The collar isn’t new.
 I’d like a new collar.

                                           

If your children are a little more cooperative than my sweet girl, head off any frustration they might experience by letting  them play online games to help learn to correctly use contractions, compounds,  and possessives. Fun seems to squelch frustration pretty quickly, and you win because they learn an important skill without shedding a tear.

 

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Spelling

My daughter has CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) and dyslexia. Both make learning a challenge for her, even though she is bright. She is a visual learner, so I try to make sure her learning leans toward her learning style.

Spelling curriculum, even beginning spelling curriculum, is difficult at best. Phonics just don’t mean much to her. She can’t really process the sounds. She can tell you basic phonics rules, but they don’t carry over into practical use. When she was in elementary school, I had her write a spelling word on one side of a blank 3X5 index card. The vowels were in one color and consonants in another color. On the back side of the index card, she would draw a picture of what the word meant to her. Because she is right-brained learner, this helped immensely.

                       

She still has trouble spelling to this day. I remind her to use spell check when she writes on the computer. Sometimes spell check doesn’t work if her spelling is way off. We also have a program geared for dyslexics called Ginger Software. It recognizes many words a dyslexic person might spell.

What things do you do to help your learning challenged child, if you have one?

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Making Memories the School Way

          

Christmas will soon be here, but in the mean time, school must go on. I know it can be hard to get the kids to focus with all the fun festivities, shopping, planning, snow, holiday cooking, Christmas movies, tree decorating, and more, but the kids still have spelling lists to learn, math to solve, and stories to write. You can use popular word lists that include winter or Christmas words to make spelling tests, and you can use Christmas themed writing paper for your child to compose stories.

A friend told me about a super fun idea that rolls school, Christmas, and family all into one. As a special treat for the whole family, extended and immediate, have your child interview a grandparent. If you have more than one child, have one interview grandma, and one interview grandpa. They can interview using a recorder, making notes, or videoing the interview. A combination might be best.

                       

Once the interview is finished, have your child or children go back through the interview and pick out several interesting bits of information that the family might not be familiar with. Your child is going to create a crossword puzzle using the information from the interview. Have them pass it out when the family gathers to celebrate Christmas. Grandma and Grandpa will be honored and the family will enjoy reliving old memories and learning something new about their loved ones. See, school can be fun!

                            

 

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Compound Fun

I am so excited! I stumbled across the most fantastic site for learning compound words. I know you are going to LOVE it. VocabularySpellingCity teamed up with Vocabulary Fun to bring you an integrated unit on compound words. The unit includes a Compound Word Lesson Video and a Compound Word Lesson Plan (PDF). The compound word page on VocabularySpellingCity also talks about a school that hosts a Compound Word dress-up day. Sounds like lots of fun, doesn’t it? They included a picture so you get the whole idea. I think it’s an incredibly fun way for kids to learn.  They also include several hands-on activities for teaching about compound words, not to mention all the online educational games they offer on the two sites–this is a winning combination. I noticed the words begin at a first grade level and go up through high school. Oh, and did I mention that both sites are FREE!!! I must say though, VocabularySpellingCity does offer a premium membership that is worth checking out. I think it’s about $25 for a whole year. Can’t beat that.

    

 

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Read! Build! Write! Vocabulary Mats ~ Free Printables

 

 

 

Homeschool Creations has a post about downloading free Read, Build, and Write mats. It is a fun way to use several senses while practicing word writing with your little one or your classroom. You will need letter tiles or magnetic letters, a vis-a-vis or dry erase marker, card stock, and lamination. The mats come in various color choices.

 

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Jumble, Tumble, All Scrambled Up

                      

un·scram·ble

tr.v. un·scram·bledun·scram·blingun·scram·bles   1. To straighten out or disentangle (a jumble or tangle); resolve   2. To restore (a scrambled message) to intelligible form.

Do you like playing word games? Have you ever heard of text twist, Boggle™, Scrabble™ …? Unscramble is similar. It is a fun game all by itself, but it is also a neat way to practice spelling words and vocabulary words. Players rearrange groups of letters to form their spelling and vocabulary words. Some of you might have a bit of trouble getting your kids to practice learning spelling or vocabulary words. The suggestion here is to keep all learning fresh and fun since it is part of our everyday life. Nobody enjoys learning the dull, boring way. Not all learning is fun, but we should at least attempt to make it as interesting as possible. Playing fun, yet challenging games is a sure-fire way to chase the humdrum, boring daily drill work out of learning new spelling words.

Try these:  ycrlseac      ashncwdi     eubnslamcr

Well, how did you do? Was it hard, easy, fun, challenging? The answers are at the very bottom of this page. So how about playing a brain boosting game of unscramble today…are you up to the challenge?

scarcely   sandwich   unscramble

 

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Lost Art

Handwriting seems to be a little bit of a lost art these days since so many folks tend to use a word processor.  I must admit I LOVE using a word processor to quickly jot to-do lists, notes, letters… However, I also know how much it means to me to receive a handwritten letter in the mail. Technology is wonderful, but sometimes it takes the personal feeling of yesteryear away. When I receive a handwritten letter, I know the writer took valuable time out of their day to convey something of importance just to me, and that makes me feel special. I try to keep that special feeling in mind when I want to send a letter or note to someone.  Kids are no different. They too love to receive handwritten notes from Mom, Dad, grandma, grandpa, cousins, aunts, uncles…  In order to receive a handwritten note, many times they must first write one. What better incentive to teach them to write notes.  Plus, it makes handwriting worksheets and handwriting practice a little less dull or boring.

Print, D’Nealian, cursive, upper case, lower case, arrows, no arrows, Zaner Bloser, ball and stick, italic … The list seems endless doesn’t it? However, handwriting and handwriting worksheets are important not only for those learning to write, but for those who need extra practice and to maintain proper form. An easy way to make sure you add student handwriting practice to your weekly assignments is by having students use their weekly spelling list as a springboard for writing. Students can write rhymes, stories, vocabulary meanings, put words in ABC order, write jokes,  songs … using the current week’s spelling list. This makes handwriting more realistic for the student.

So, grab some funky stationery and fun writing pens and set out to make someone’s day a little brighter!

 

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