Just a quick note about spelling for homework

Dear Parent,

1. First Teacher Pre Tests

We are starting with the Dolch List

of most frequently used words.

I am pretesting the children,

so that time is not taken up with spellings they already know.

I have stapled the Dolch List

into the Spelling/Free Writing copy.


I am also sending home an enlarged copy

of  list of the Dolch List  home.

You might find it useful to pop it up on a wall

somewhere at home.


Dolch List

I would suggest that the class levels at the top of this page

e.g. Pre Primer/2nd Grade are certainly American

and probably date back to the last century

when it was compiled by Dolch himself.

I don’t think it has any relevance to us.

2. Then she highlights the ones that need to be learnt

I have marked the misspellings from the pretests

on the photocopied page with a yellow highlighter.

I would like your child to learn five a night.

When they know them I would like them

to put them in sentences.


3. Then the children learn them

Understandably children often ask me

can they put their five spellings in just one sentence.

I would prefer them to write five sentences.


One sentence for each spelling helps practice punctuation

i.e. remembering that sentences begin with capital letters

and end in a full stop.

Also putting five random words in one sentence

can result in some very random sentences.


I would like the children to work

on the quality of the sentences they write

when they are practicing their spellings

and so avoid very simple sentences

like ‘I am funny,’ ’Where am I?’ or  ‘I am here’.


A post about developing the quality

of these sentences will follow shortly.

When a child completes the Dolch List

they can do ‘free writing’ at this time instead,

for a period of time.


Reading the ‘free writing’

will be a good starting point for me

for establishing words

that are frequently spelled incorrectly.


These are the words that we will work

on when we have finished working on the Dolch List.


Spelling Homework in a nutshell:

Learn five of the highlighted spellings a night.

Use the approach to learning spelling

that you were taught last year

i.e. Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check.

When you are confident that you know the five spellings

write five sentences using each one.

Remember capital letters and full stops.

Good penmanship and presentation is also important.


Other homework this week:

The other homework this week is Mental Maths as marked

and reading one comprehension piece from

‘A Way With Words’


Further information:

Scroll down this link for additional information

about a year’s plan for spelling here:

Class Plan for Learning Spelling 2012

When planning for spelling this year

I came across this very helpful blog:

Johanna Stirling’s ‘The Spelling Blog’

Thanking you, Teacher


And to finish:

a quote from Terry Pratchett:


“Nanny Ogg knew how to start spelling ‘banana’,

but didn’t know how you stopped.”

– Terry Pratchett, ‘Witches Abroad’


I found spellings hard at school and remember the feeling well 🙂

2 thoughts on “Just a quick note about spelling for homework

  1. I am interested in your suggestions for spelling the Dolch list. 7-9 years is a reasonable age for this exercise. But have you not found it unnecessary to teach spellings of these frequent words when good readers should automatically write Dolch words?

  2. Hi Veronica,

    Thank you for your comment. In 2012 our school policy was that students would learn how to spell half of the Dolch List in First and the second half in Second. That was a long standing policy going back a number of years.

    Indeed you are quite right, the good readers were able to write the Dolch words. What I used do then was to highlight the words each ‘high flier’ were regularly misspelling in their own copies and require them to learn these. I could compile these as lists as I found many of the misspellings the children had in common. The list in fact would look something like this:

    I would explain to their parents this was more beneficial that teaching them for example to spell ‘chrysanthemum’ (a party trick when I was in school in the 60s.)

    As you can imagine I found updating these lists of mispellings very labour intensive so as I recall we continued with this up to Christmas. I often find ‘a blitz’ or intensive intervention over six weeks or a term can capture the interest of the children and their parents and be effective.

    With the School Self Evaluation for Primary Schools that has happened in recent years we have tried a number of approaches to spelling including using mnemonics – again pretesting and post testing the students. In this way we hoped we wouldn’t be asking children to ‘learn’ something they knew already.

    I have worked in Learning Support since 2013 and had been using the SNIP programme
    The children enjoyed the activities and the repetitiveness of it seemed to imprint the spelling in their memories.

    I have also found Johanna Stirling’s blog on spelling very useful especially this ‘Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check template’. http://thespellingblog.blogspot.ie/2010/11/look-say-cover-write-check-template.html

    Teachers in our school from third class up love the Brendan Culligan approach
    We also introduce cursive writing from first class as we believe the children develop a muscle memory for spellings letter strings like -ight, -ough, -ould when they are joining them up.

    In January we are going to receive a training day in Wordsworth https://www.wordsworthlearning.com/ with a view to adopting a whole school approach.
    Initially developed to help students with dyslexia, we are hoping it is going to ‘rise all boats’. My understanding is that encouraging children to highlight and visualize words will be part of this. I’ll know more in January.

    Interestingly Rita Treacy whose brainchild Wordsworth is told us at a recent meeting that the ‘Look, Say, Cover etc..’ approach puts the word in the child’s short term memory and not their long term one. That was food for thought. So I am learning as I go along and hope to find the most effective way of learning spellings.

    With every good wish,

    Merry Beau

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