Tips for Learning New Vocabulary Words

Recognizing Letter Shapes to Aid in Spelling


Spelling is something that every child must learn in school. Luckily, there are several ways for teachers to make spelling fun, helping children learn faster and easier. Learning to spell is not only about learning what letters sound like, but also what they look like. In order to ensure that students are engaged enough to remember the spelling lessons, make sure that the spelling examples you give stand out in their memory.

Sight Words
The term “sight words” refers to words that are used often by children. The majority of sight words are short words such as “the”, “I” and “you”. Teaching these types of words to children is important because they do not necessarily follow the rules of phonetics that help children sound out words. Because of this, it is best to teach them what the word looks like, by emphasizing its shape and other characteristics.

Play Dough Words
One way of emphasizing letter and word shapes is by allowing students to build the words. By using lumps of play dough, you can have each student build the shapes of each letter. For students that are visual and hands-on, this is one of the best ways to teach spelling. Once the children have built the letters, you can roll the play dough flat and have them carve the word into the dough to simulate actually writing and spelling.

Colorful Writing
Once the students have mastered building sight words, introduce writing. Since writing can be more difficult for young students, try making it more exciting by adding color. Simply using bright crayons or colored pencils makes the students more excited to write and spell. To emphasize letter shapes, students can write similar looking letters such as “p” and “b” in the same color. Additionally, color groups can correspond with letter shape.

Alphabet Drawing
When students can remember a letter based on its shape, they are more likely to write it accurately while spelling. A great activity to help students focus on letter shape is to ask them to draw an object such as a “boat” or a “pig” while using the first letter of the word somewhere in the drawing. In order to clarify the activity, draw a picture of a “pig” on the board and outline the pig’s eye in a bright color to show how you used the letter “p” to make the pig’s eye. Try this with other animals and letters.

Shapes and Letters
In order to develop associations, try using index cards to cut out the shapes of letters. Begin by cutting out several shapes, such as circles, squares, stars or triangles and place them on a large table. Next, write each letter on an index card. Next, give students an index card with a letter on it and ask them to place the card below the shape that their letter most resembles. At the end of the activity, students will be associating letters with shapes, building skills that develop spelling.

Learning to spell can be a difficult task. The more creative a teacher is in finding ways to engage children in the learning process, the easier the task of learning to spell will be. Helping children recognize the shapes of letters is an effective way to make this process easier.