Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Co-schooling: spelling mnemonics & practicing letters

In Brady's 2nd grade class, every few spelling tests each child is tested only on words they missed on previous tests. It's called their "word bank."

Out of four tests - a total of 48 words - Brady missed five. Of those five, three were simply because he wrote a 'b' instead of a 'd' or vice versa. He knew how to spell the word. He just wrote those letters backwards.

Overall, he's doing really well at spelling, but we needed to address this problem. We did it in two ways:

1. Mnemonic

I had to look up the spelling of this! In a spelling post! That seems ironic.

Anyway, according to Merriam-Webster, a mnemonic is "assisting or intended to assist memory." For now we use it only for spelling, but I'll bet down the road it will be useful elsewhere.

We did this a lot last year. For example, "together" was to-get-her. He spelled it right and still knows how. And "enough" is eno-ugh (sounds like eeno-ugg). This worked wonders for Brady, especially coupled with the letter scramble and repetition.

This year, 'b' and 'd' were vexing us. So I came up with another mnemonic which capitalized on his love of Star Wars: "Death star to the left, Boba Fett to the right." It took him awhile to get it down pat, but soon he could say it and knew it meant D was to the left and B was to the right.

2. Practice

Every night for two weeks I wrote a capital D and capital B at the top of a paper and then 1. 2. 3. under each one. So he'd practice writing each one in lower case three times.

When he was tested over his word bank, he didn't miss any.

I thought these simple techniques might help someone else with spelling woes as much as they helped us.


  1. This is great! I also use the first way when I am learning a word even to this day.

    1. I use mnemonics a lot too, especially when I'm trying to remember a short list and don't have pen and paper, like when I'm in the bath :)

  2. What great ideas Steph. Even though my oldest grandchild is only in kindergarten, I am going to pass this along to my daughter. She might find it useful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great job--I think I've seen the word bed--if you draw a box around it, it looks like a bed with the headboard and footboard, and b comes before d in the alaphabet. I would tell my little ones b is for bat and the bat comes before the ball. d is for dog, and the dog has a tail that comes after. I don't know if it helped or not, but they eventually got it--a lot of kids struggle with this. (Another one is separate--there's "a rat" in the word--you want to separate from a rat!

    1. Picture mnemonics! What a cool idea, I hadn't thought about that. Oh yeah, I spelled separate as seperate for YEARS. But journalism finally cured me of it. It's funny, he knows HOW to make a d and a b fine, just he confuses them sometimes.

  4. This is a great idea! For my kid, he will spell a word that sounds the same but is different... like bear, bare... which, I don't know how his teacher is addressing the class, or using the word in a sentence. But he's done this on multiple occasions!

    1. Now that's a toughie we haven't had to tackle much yet with bear or bare, or way and weigh. That'll be soon though I imagine!


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