I’ve just finished the new version of the free Spelfabet low frequency word spelling test. Click here to download the file and save it to your computer for printing.
It contains 182 words in five levels, and follows the same teaching sequence as the version 3 Spelfabet workbooks. I hope it’s helpful in deciding where to start in these books, or just in identifying the spelling patterns your learners know, and which need attention.
So you can try the test on yourself first, I’ve filmed myself administering it from the wintry depths of Melbourne’s Lockdown 6.0 (yes, I am masking up and fully AZ vaccinated, the vaccine to get is the one you can get). You just need paper and a pen or pencil for this test, and each level takes between 5 and 15 minutes. Check your answers against the download, or with any walking dictionaries you know, perhaps you’re one.
Please don’t ask kids to do all five levels at once, just start with the level you think they can manage, or Level 1 if they’re in their first year of schooling, Level 2 if they are in their 2nd year and Level 3 if they’re in later primary school years. By mid-primary school most children should be able to have a decent crack at most of these words.
Level 1: 12 minutes
Level 2: 11 minutes. As you can see, my camera’s zoom lens has a mind of its own.
Level 3: 15 minutes (sorry, a bit long, I know)
Level 4: just over 4 minutes (phew!)
Level 5: 10 minutes
If you use the program Sounds-Write and/or the Phonic Books, the teaching sequence in this test is probably familiar. It matches the Dandelion readers Units 1-20, but with extra emphasis on word-building/prefixees/suffixes, then the Dandelion Split Vowel Spellings books (but with more ‘short/long vowels’ and prefix/suffix work and a few extra spellings), then the first set of Extended Code books (one vowel digraph at a time), then the Moon Dogs 3: Vowels sequence (revising one vowel digraph and adding a new one). I’m still working on the later levels, and will add these to the test over time.
The printed test is set out in columns with the target sound/spelling at the left, then the word, then a definition and then an example sentence. The last three levels also include words with analogous spellings e.g. for newly-minted it-word ‘rona‘, the analogy words might be ‘sofa’, ‘coma’ and ‘soda’. I won’t put any of the actual words on the test in this blog post, so they’re all fresh to you when/if you try it.
Please note that this test should not be used as a substitute for formal, standardised tests with norms, percentiles etc., though of course schools could gather data from it and work out their own local norms. It’s intended as an exploratory tool to shed light on what learners know about spelling, and help adults decide what to teach next.
I’d love to know what you think of this test, so please leave any feedback or suggestions in the comments.