Kindergarten Spelling Practice Ideas

By C. Nelson

Imagine this scary scenario.

You are four-years-old. You’ve been told you need to learn letters…and then you’ll learn to use those letters to spell and read these magical words that are everywhere. Especially in books. It’s a greatidea, right? Words are a fantastic thing to be trained in, of course! The words in the books make up stories. And stories are AWESOME! Especially the ones with dragons that breathe fire and eat peanut butter!

So you decide to try to learn these magical letters and are giddy withanticipation of where this adventure might lead you. But you try…and soon you have moments of frustration. Because learning letters is harder than you thought it would be. This is greatly because you’re, you know, four. New tasks are hard. You’re still struggling with the huge problem in that some of your shoes have strings and not Velcro. In fact, there are moments when letters are so hard that you want to throw that precious box of organic apple juice right at that ridiculous stuffed vulture toy Aunt Mary gave you last time she visited. There’s the letter "b," for example. It looks very similar to the letter "d." Ridiculous!

And there’s 26 letters? What kind of twisted grown up psycho came up with 26 letters! I mean, wasn’t there anyone qualified in this arena that could figure out how to streamline this process. What’s wrong with an alphabet with 10 letters? I mean, seriously. What are you saying next? What? There’s capital AND lower-case versions of these 26 letters?

BAH! This is too much! I’m going to go get some markers and just color on the walls!

Okay. I’ll admit I can’t honestly remember if I was thinking these thoughts when I was first learning how to spell. But I DO remember that I wanted to learn the words and read the books that I wanted to read. The idea of not having to wait for someone to help me was downright invigorating. The concept of "waiting" for any youngster, after all, is not an appealing concept. And besides, for me, often my mom just wanted me to read the various stories about Dick and Jane. Meanwhile, I wanted to read the story about the princess and the three great dogs, again and again! It was clearly a taste dispute.

So how do we help our little Kindergarten friends learn their letters and get a good start on spelling and reading those magical words that will open up their world? Here’s a few tips that just might you avoid some frustration with your young reader and help save some apple juice from being used in nefarious deeds.

1. Start with Picture Books
Rather than invest in buying loads of books from a local bookstore, check out the Early Reader section at your local library, first. Some books might just have pictures…and that’s great. Because a picture book can help a beginning child to "read" without help! There’s a little swagger in a youngster’s walk when then can understand the story on theirown. Next, maybe graduate to books that show letters. A personal favorite of mine? Dr. Suess’s A B C.

2. Graduate to Books with Pictures and Words
Are we ready to experience some color photos WITH the corresponding words indentifying the object? A whole sentence is still a bit scary, perhaps. But a picture and aword? Now that’s some fun reading! I adore books like First 100 Words which give this next reading step some assistance.

3. Next, Consider Writing and Illustrating a Simple Story Together
We’ve all got a story to tell! Challenge your little person to come up with a tale about something they see or wonder about. You can assist with the words and spelling – but remember to sound out certain words and slowly write the letters as you pen this great novel. I’ll write a story just for you to show you how easy this can be.

"One day, a little bird saw a pie." (Page 1)"I wonder if pie is good to eat." (Page 2 – this is be in a dialogue box over the thoughtfulbird.)"The bird flew closer to the pie. It smelled yummy." (Page 3 – my story’s climax!)"The bird pecked at the flaky pie crust." (Page 4 – Riveting stuff! I’m on a roll!)"Yuck! I like worms better than pie." (Page 5 – Whew, our tale has a happy ending. Unless you’re a worm, that is.)

See? That wasn’t so bad. And I’m guessing that your little learner might start to grasp what the word "pie" looks like after seeing it so many times. This might be true especially if "pie" is written in purple or a special color that coincides with your pie flavor of choice!

4. Make Reading Opportunities Everywhere
Laminated placemats at the table with bright-colored letters. Grocery store aisle signs. Stop Signs. Restaurant Menus. "On" and "Off" buttons on remotes everywhere.Pretend to stumble for a brief moment or two on how to read a sign or word and see if you and your little reader can sound out the word together…an effort that will help you successfully navigate your day. Fish sticks are so much better if we can read the package together and make sure the printing promises "fish" and not "film" or something, right? Some children even really enjoy a five word spelling test after dinner featuring words they may have seen during the week.

5. Finally, Show How Misspellings Could Steer Someone WrongCreative grown ups may enjoy making signs with clever misspellings, especially if the game offers some giggly fun in addition to showing why spelling can be a good thing to know. Write "Fred" instead of "Red" and confuse a little puppet about where to find a crayon to color a picture of an apple. "A "Bat" could scare us at the zoo if we go into thatroom with such a sign on the door. Especially, if we were looking for the room with a "Hat." And so on. One letter in the wrong place could make for a little extra drama in any daily quest. Kids can get a fun, energizing time of imagining and sharing with you how letters could make an adventurous experience go hilariously wrong!

Little efforts like the ones listed above may help provide a venue to show your young spelling scholar why spelling and reading are a fun part of everyday life. And sooner is better than later. Starting to read early, after all, is something that many teachers say is helpful in getting kids to feel encouraged and excited about reading.

It would seem the early bird gets the worm, after all.Well…unless the aforementioned bird is one that enjoys an occasional pie, in one of my stories.