I’ve just put a Spelling Collection in this website’s shop, which is designed to help learners get their heads around all the different spellings for each English sound. Click here to see a three-minute video about it.
It has one page for most sounds, but two pages for a few sounds – like “k”, “ee” and “aw” – that have quite a lot of different spelling choices.
The idea is that learners write words containing all the different spellings for each sound in the columns in the collection, so that they end up with a booklet that shows them how every sound is spelt.
They can then examine their collection to see which kinds of words contain each spelling, for example the spelling “or” for the sound “er” is generally used after the sound “w”, as in “word”, “work”, “worm” and “worth”.
The Spelling Collection is designed to be used in conjunction with other materials that target one sound at a time and demonstrate each of its spelling alternatives.
For example, I’ve been doing a lot of work on the sound “er” lately.
I’ve been getting learners to build words containing “er” spellings with my Movable Alphabet:
They have also been completing the “er” pages in my Level 5 Workbook:
We’ve been playing the Pink version of Milo’s Read and Grab Game from Little Learners Love Literacy, which kids love just as much as the original game I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, but it introduces “er”, “ur” and “ir” spellings:
You can see children playing the earlier version of this game on YouTube by clicking here.
We’ve been sorting “er” words into columns on the whiteboard (young kids LOVE to be the teacher and write on the whiteboard!):
Plus we have been writing out our own spelling collections, using the following format, which is on p47 of the Spelling Collection:
I have a Sounds Write reader which contains a lot of “er” words, which is another word source if someone hasn’t managed to fill up every column in their collection, and which also reinforces work building and writing “er” words:
I also have a very old, bashed-up copy of Allographs 1 Sound Search Stories for Reading and Spelling by Diane McGuinness, and I sometimes ask learners to find all the “er” spellings in the story “Miss Herd The Nurse” from that:
These stories are pretty daggy but they provide a density of the target sound that you can’t find elsewhere, and get learners thinking critically about sounds (e.g. does “hurry” have an “er” sound in the Australian accent? What about in an American accent?).
Most learners are soon pretty proficient with the main spellings of the sound “er”, and we can move on to the next sound, and the next one, till we’ve covered all the main spellings for all the sounds of spoken English.