Spelling – general

The knowledge that students need if they are to become proficient spellers takes four different forms:

  • phonological knowledge: how words and letter combinations sound
  • visual knowledge: the way words and letter combinations look
  • morphemic knowledge: the meaning of words and the way words take different spellings when they change form
  • etymological knowledge: the derivations of words.

The implementation of a balanced spelling program, incorporating modelled, guided and independent teaching strategies within a range of meaningful written language experiences, provides opportunities for students to be taught the four forms of spelling knowledge, to learn and practise spelling skills, and to demonstrate their understandings about spelling.

Activity 1 – double consonant

Have students work in small groups. Provide groups with a set of double consonant word cards (For example, hopping, dinner, community, rabbit, address, happen, bitter, traffic, difficult, summer). Students identify the common feature of each of the words (For example, all words have double letters, all have a vowel before the double letter, the double letters are consonants). Share their findings with the class. Reinforce words such as consonant, short vowel sound.

Introduce the rule: ‘where two vowels are separated by one consonant, the first vowel is usually long. But a double consonant keeps the first vowel short.’

One consonant – long vowel, for example, hoping, diner

Double consonant – short vowel, for example, hopping, dinner

In pairs students conduct a double consonant investigation. They can use books, posters, computers, etc. to find as many words as they can that exist with both a single and double consonant in the middle.

Activity 2 – silent letters

Have the students read through a text and make a note of the silent letter words that they find in it. Have students explain what they notice about these words when they are read out loud (certain letters cannot be heard). Explain what silent letters are and the rules to the students.

1. The letter b is usually silent when used after the letter m and also before the letter t.

  • examples before m:  lamb, comb, tomb
  • examples before t: subtle, doubt

2. The letter c is silent when used before the letter z and sometimes when used before the letter l.

  • examples before z: Czechoslovakia
  • example before l: Muscle

3. The letter d is silent when it appears before the letter n and then also before the letter g.

  • example before n: Wednesday

Have the students compile a vocabulary list of silent letter words.

Students work in pairs to create their own Silent Letter Bingo. Use a computerised template (Excel) to create up to 10 bingo cards and 1 set of word cards.

Have the students play word games; for example, filling in the silent letters in a written word or guessing which is the silent letter in a spoken word.

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