20 Indoor Spelling Practice Activities for Active Learners (Great for Bad Weather Days!)
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Before I start, if you're in a hurry just like I seem to always be and just want to print out the list, feel free to download a .pdf HERE!
I just finished being bombarded by my 9 year old son with questions about WHY he even needs to learn to spell. Spelling is probably his number one struggle subject at school (homeschool currently).
I explain (yet again) why this is important and why he must learn to practice and learn spelling. Of course, he tries to explain to ME that he can just speak into a digital recorder and it will spell everything for him.
I'm a former second grade teacher. When I worked with students, we always studied one word list per week, taken from the school's curriculum of choice spelling book. When I pulled my youngest son out of the local public school, they had no spelling curriculum at all. This drove me crazy and made me feel as if my kiddo was missing out. So naturally, when choosing curriculum for our school year this year, I chose a spelling book so we could go over a list a week and have each spelling test on Fridays.
This has proven to be difficult. There are several reasons why I chose to homeschool this year, and one of them is attributed to the anxiety and attention difficulties that my son struggles with.
Spelling practice activities & lists are not necessarily the easiest for some ADHD, active, or kinesthetic-type learners.
(I've learned this is true of my son, at least.)
The year has been dedicated to my focus on these challenges he deals with daily, and to find ways to help him cope with them, and to hopefully find healing him from them as much as is possible.
Spelling lists are not easy for many kids who deal with anxiety and attention deficit problems. First of all, READING can be a struggle, as your eyes and brain need to focus on the page long enough to be fluent when reading and to exhibit comprehension of the passages you read.
So, if reading itself is a struggle, along with basic phonics instruction, a long and tedious spelling list can possibly be overwhelming for some.
I'm actually looking into a word study approach with my child (I'll write another post on that another day), but I probably won't completely ditch the spelling lists/testing strategies altogether. I believe that test-taking and short-term memory work are in and of themselves skills to be taught and learned. Life is full of stressful test-like teaching situations and I want to equip him.
Meanwhile, as we study this week's test, I'm reminded that ADHD kids (as well as most kids, struggling readers and all!) learn best in a kinesthetic, gross-motor, hands-on kind of way.
And it's like 32 degrees outside. A few weeks ago, we were jumping on the trampoline and shouting out spelling words, which worked GREAT, but now the trampoline is full of leaves and icicles.
To combat this, I'm coming up some spelling practice activities that can truly help Sam to memorize his words.
And before I begin, if you work with weekly spelling lists, I hope that at least in the younger grades you are working with lists of words that each tackle different groupings of words, like words with similar vowel sounds, consonant blends, or phonics rules.
That way, you are teaching your child how to spell with the rules of phonics (and their exceptions), not just spelling for pure memory only.
1. Jumping Jack Spelling Attack
Simply being active while learning the words will help retention. Have your kiddo do one jumping jack per letter while spelling the word. If he gets it wrong, start over! Tip: Do it with him. Why not get a little workout in? 🙂
2. Spelling Clue Hunt
This one is great for memory recall and it adds location to word memory. A few steps to this:
- Put each spelling word on a sticky note. (Maybe do 5 or so a day).
- While your child is not looking, put the notes in different places all over in one room. Have your child come in and spell each word aloud as she finds them. After she correctly spells it aloud, she can take the sticky note down.
- Meanwhile, draw a simple diagram of the room.
- Have your child remember where the words were located in the room.
- As a bonus, have your child replace the sticky notes where they were in the room.
This can help with brain memory because your child can visualize where the word was and also the spelling of the word.
3. Clap It & Snap It
Sound and rhythm can greatly help with remembering the correct spelling of words. With your child, come up with a rhythm for each word, using claps and snaps or a combination of both to recall the letters of each word.
This can play greatly on the rhyme of each word, so if a list you are working on concentrates on certain patterns (like a double vowel like "oa" or "ea", or a double consonant blend like "ch" or "sh", you can help your student remember those patterns by maybe always snapping the pattern-part of the words.
Teachers: Grab this Spelling Activities PDF checklist to print and send home for ideas when you send home spelling activities for homework..
4. Hide and Seek Spelling
Just like it sounds! Hide the words, and then your child seeks them (or vice versa!). We use this just like we hide Easter eggs at Easter. And my kids want to do THAT over and over (and over) again. They love to hide things and then have me go find them! And they love to have ME hide things for them so they can go hunt.
Just write down each word on a slip of paper and have your reader go a huntin'. Maybe require that they read it and spell it aloud for the "find" to count. This could go on for hours! Hide them, find them & then hide them again 🙂
5. Stairway Spelling
If you have stairs, this would be a fun way to mix up learning the spelling list! Your child starts at the bottom of the stairs. You say a word aloud. Your child spells the word aloud. If missed, go over the correct spelling of the word and have your child repeat. If she gets the word right on the first try, she gets to move up a step! If missed, after correcting together, move on to the next word and bring back the missed word later into the game.
You'll want to have some kind of incentive for reaching the top of the steps, like time on a trampoline, or getting to choose something important, like what's for dinner tonight. (Whatever you think is appropriate
Note: You may want to do this activity if your child is close to mastering the list. You wouldn't want to frustrate your student if he or she can never seem to move up the stairs!
6. Window writing
Take a few different window markers or water-thinned tempura paints (with supervision!), and let your child go to town writing down their spelling words on all the different windows and mirrors in the house.
And then, leave them up for a while so that your student can visually see all the words all over the house for a short time and word-associate, establishing it to memory.
It's a win-win because when you ask your child to wipe down their beautiful art work for a new project, your windows are sparking clean!
7. Mom will do it
Okay, this little doozy I dreamed up myself, I'll admit it. Because it is soooo funny for my son to see me doing the funny things he dreams up. And maybe it's a little bit desperate, but hey! He learns his words.
It's a bit like "Simon Says". Sam comes up with an action I have to do, like twirl 10 times, crab walk around the house, walk like a chicken or whatever his little imagination can come up (within reason of course).
IF he gets a spelling word I give him right on the very first try, I'll complete his silly request. And I get lots of exercise doing this too. And we have some funny laughing time together. I'm sure you can come up with some creative and great twists on this little game with your child!
8. Musical chairs spelling style
If you need another idea for spelling activities for homework your child's teacher may send home, this could be a fun one! You may want to come up with a few preliminary game rules or maybe make up your own style of "musical chairs" that will work for you.
Here is the way we play: We walk around a chair. I say a word. He begins to spell it, and as soon as he gets the word correctly spelled, I'll hurry to sit down. If he beats me to it, he gets the point. If I beat him to it, of course, I get the point.
We do this until the words are done and the winner is the person who won the most points.
We'll play music while we do this, but for us, really music isn't a part of the game.
9. Spelling workout
Come up with an workout regimen that exercise the brain for spelling lists, too! Come up with new exercise-types for each of the words on your list.
So, for instance for each letter of your first word, you might do one pushup for each letter of that word (modified if needed).
Then, for the next word on your list you might do a jumping jack for each letter of that word.
For the third word, you could do a sit-up for every letter.
Get the pattern? You could even write it down or put it on a dry-erase board so your child can practice this way every day with all kinds of exercises (chin-ups, pull-ups, jogs in place, hula hoops, squats, etc.!)
10. Indoor trampoline spelling
Finds ways to incorporate your spelling words with the trampoline indoors! Jump with every letter, or come up with different type jumps for different words. (tuck jumps, straddle jumps, turn jumps, etc.)
You can also chalk letters on the trampoline and have your child jump on the letters to properly spell the word. (For an indoor trampoline, this may work best with shorter words).
Or, come up with your own ways to use a trampoline for spelling out words. (Let me know in the comments if you have any great ideas because I could use a few more).
11. Wall sit spelling
Strengthen those quads! Try doing wall sits for as long as your student can hold it and spell the words correctly. This can build up some great stamina and get your child to focus hard on those spelling words!
To do a wall sit: With your back against the wall, walk your feet out until your knees are directly over your ankles in a "sitting" position where all the pressure is placed on the tops of your legs (your quads), and your back is flush against the wall.
Have your child (if she can!) hold the position until she can spell the word correctly, and then she can release. You may need to build it up to multiple words or even the whole list if one or two words is way too easy.
12. Beanbag toss with spelling words
Using all the letters in each of the spelling words on your weekly list (twice or more as applicable if there are two or more letters letters in any of the words), write each letter onto a sticky note.
In random order, place the notes in a location on a hard floor surface and have your child stand about 6-8 feet away (or whatever is good for a slight challenge).
Call out a word, and have your child toss a small beanbag onto the correct letters (in order of course). You'll need multiple beanbags (OR, you could take 7 or 8 small ziplock baggies and fill with beans or something to make them land).
They get to cross a word off the list each time they get it right. If they miss any letters, they have to start the beanbag toss over!
13. Spell with Boxes
Have you moved recently or have a bunch of shoe boxes that you need a use for? Simply draw in marker on small to medium sized boxes a letter (or blends of letters) that are used in all the spelling words on the list.
Ask your child to build you all kinds of combinations of the boxes to build each of the words on the list. Once he builds a word or group of words correctly, you can let him knock down the boxes or jump into the pile for fun!
(You could also use play cardboard boxes if you have any of these! HERE are the least expensive and highest rated ones I could find on Amazon if this is the kind of thing your kid might enjoy. You could either draw right on the boxes or use sticky notes!)
14. Bathtub or Shower Spelling
Here's another alternative to simple spelling word worksheets.
What better way than to learn to spell words while getting your child clean AND your bathtub clean? Right? This is a great way to use those fine motor (and some gross motor) skills while getting your child to learn her words.
You could use bathtub paints or crayons. If you have a child who struggles with text anxiety and you homeschool, consider allowing your child to take her test on the shower wall. (Points for creativity with that one, Mom!)
15. Jump-rope the Words
I'm pretty sure at my age I would break a leg doing this, but I'm an awesome Mom so I'd be willing to try it. 🙂
If you have a jump-roping type kid, let her call out the letters as the rope goes around each time.
It's pretty simple and not much to it! If she misses a jump, she has to start over. If she misses a letter, she has to start over. This is just a great way to get practicing those words in daily.
You could even encourage her to sing the words out to the tune of a song to help it go smoothly, like spell out words and jump at the same time to the tune of "Old MacDonald", "Jingle Bells", or "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (something with an easy tune).
16. Bounce it out!
Do you have a basketball player in your home? This is a great way to burn some energy and engrain the spelling list for the week! One letter per bounce and pass the ball at the end of a correct word. Or, shoot hoops and instead of playing "PIG", pick a tricky spelling word and spell it out!
(Just in case you don't know how to play "PIG", Each player gets to try to make a basket from a particular location, and then each player has to make a basket from standing in the same location (for one round).
Any person who doesn't get the basket has to add a letter to their word. (For instance, you would start with "P" for pig.) Whoever spells the word fully first is out! I guess the "goal" here (no pun intended) is to NOT spell the word - but I think it will still work 🙂
Oh! And since I'm focusing on indoor things you can do for active spellers, HERE are the best highly rated (but well-priced) indoor (and over-the-door) basketball hoops for ya. I'm pretty sure I have one on every door of my house as we speak.
17. Word Relay
Think about all the relay-type races that you can. Apple under the chin, walk across a room with an egg on a spoon, blow a cotton-ball across the counter, or keep something sucked to a straw (large bean or piece of paper).
Choose the relay or relays you want to have and make a game out of spelling words with it and provide some kind of incentive for making it back and forth from one point to another.
Since relays take at least TWO people, you have to play too! You're having a great time with your child and learning words too, hopefully!
18. Balloon Spelling
What is it about balloons? Balloons are not just for kids. I promise you that if you put a whole lot of blown-up balloons in a room full of adults, you'll see some action.
Even more so for kids! You can use balloons in lots of different ways for learning activities. For spelling, you could blow up some balloons and write a different letter in large on each balloon.
Try to keep all the balloons in the air as you "bop" the balloons.
Combine the relay idea with the balloons and spell words as you move the balloons around the room.
Play tennis with the balloons and call out word spellings.
Or, when you are done, you can let your child pop the balloons when he gets a word spelled right!
19. Spelling Yoga
Well, we know the impact of physical activity upon learning is great, (and a great reason to include these ideas not only for spelling but all subjects of learning).
Yoga might be a great activity choice for kids to strengthen & tone muscles and for stress relief. (Parents of anxious kids, read: "stress relief!") This may be a good choice for students who are stressed by learning a set of words or are having trouble with word types & groupings.
I don't really have a special "game" for doing this, but I think it might be worth trying just to put on a kid's yoga type video or work on the Wii Yoga game and do the stretches with deep breathing and go through spelling words at the same time!
20. Spelling Twister
If you like Yoga but need something a little bit more silly, try spelling twister, of course!
You could easily make your own "Twister" board with sticky notes on a hard surface, but if you want to make it more official, you won't have to spend much. You can just grab a Twister Game right off of Amazon with free Prime shipping and learn your words by the end of the week!
Put letters on each of the circles (or sticky notes, if you use that) and have your child put a hand, foot, elbow, knee, etc. on each letter as they call out how to spell a word. Or, if your child is the "caller", you can be the one to do the Twister board. Just take turns and have fun with it!
When it comes to learning spelling words, spelling word worksheets are still just not always the way to go.
Although they definitely have their place and can be an additional way to learn words, many children learn best by means of body movement and combining physical activity with the learning.
I'm sure in addition to these, you can find many other spelling activities online for the personality and character of your own child. Pinterest and Google can be a great friend for finding anything you need.
I hope you can find some ideas here for your learner and that you'll make strides together for great spelling!
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