How to help with spelling

How to help your child with learning spellings

Each week your child should receive a spelling list of words to learn from their class teacher (often this is sent as a termly list, split by week). This links to their key stage development and also the National Curriculum 2014 words for a particular year group of key stage.

Traditionally children would have copied these out to help learn them, but we all know that copying out repeatedly is a bit dull and isn’t the most effective way of learning a pattern or rule. Making it fun is the key. Repeating the learning frequently throughout the week is important, both in writing and out loud. Can you practice spellings in the car, while stuck in a queue or waiting for something?
Rewards always work well too! They don’t have to be money or food related. Time and attention is what most children crave the most. Can you give them an extra story if they focus and practice?

Some Fun Ways to learn Spelling

  • Create rhymes and raps using the spelling words or patterns
  • Stick them on the wall or the fridge
  • Make a crossword or word search of their weekly list – online versions make this quickly (e.g. or
  • Jumble word – how quickly can your child get the letters in the correct order? This is easier if you have magnetic letters or scrabble tiles ready.
  • Use arts and crafts to encourage spelling, such as rainbow writing – each time repeating the word in a different colour of pen
  • Younger children also love to use playdough to build each letter in their focus spelling words.
  • Guess the word in your head – remember the guessing game celebrity heads, when you put the names of someone on each person’s head and you try to work out who you are by asking questions? The same game can be played using spelling words. The children then have to figure out which word they are by asking a series of questions with yes/no answers, e.g. Am I a verb? Do I start with a vowel?

Here are some more parent hints and tips:

Tips that make it easier for children with dyslexia also work with all children, so they are worth a look.

Purple Mash Website

Purple Mash is a creative online space aimed at primary school children, which aims to inspire creative learning both at school and at home. It covers spelling, grammar and maths as well as other work related to the immersive topics in the curriculum. We use it in school frequently to teach ICT as well as the open-ended tools allowing children to try their hand at story creation, art and game design, among other things.

Children can log in to Purple Mash on desktops, laptops and tablets at home or school. It is a paid-for website but Southville Primary has the subscription for all children. If your child doesn’t know his or her login, please ask your teacher for a reminder.

Many of our year groups follow the spelling scheme on Purple Mash. This breaks down the term into weekly spelling lists, usually following a spelling ‘rule’ or sound. The words link to those for that year group on the National Curriculum. The last week in each term’s set of words consolidates and reviews. These then link to the games on Purple Mash to make learning the spelling a little more exciting.

On the Home Screen click on English and then spelling. Select your child’s year group level and for each week there is:

  • A quiz – it reads you the word and lets you see it for a few seconds, then drag the letters up to make the word
  • A dictation – which uses the word within a sentence to help the children understand the meaning of each word
  • A LSCWC (look say cover write check) page for practising.

Apps that make it fun – some you will need to pay a little for:

Best for KS2:

Squeebles Spelling £3.99, Apple or Android

This app lets you create spelling tests with your choice of words: great for practising weekly spellings. You can record the words in your own voice and choose how long your child gets to study them before attempting to spell them. You can add funny things in to keep them motivated. A bit more interesting than writing on paper for those kids who love a tablet!

You can set up different profiles so you can test each child on their own words from school each week. You can also download a range of ready-made tests tailored to your child’s age and stage, such as high frequency words and tricky words for confident readers.

Your child earns stars and cute creatures (Squeebles) for getting words right. They can then use these to play Squeeberang! a boomerang game where they can compete against siblings or friends, or try to beat their own highest score.

Great for KS1

Mr Thorne’s Spellbook, £1.99, Apple

Teacher Mr Thorne has become a YouTube sensation with his education phonics videos. His Spellbook app has 101 spelling tests based on the order that children are taught the phonics sounds, starting with words beginning with s, a, t, i, n, p and leading onto two- and three-letter sounds.

In each spelling test, your child listens to the word and then has to type it in correctly. Some tests also include tricky high frequency words with irregular spellings. Getting 10/10 on a spelling test unlocks the safe and reveals a hidden treasure. Can your child collect all 101 artefacts and fill the empty shelves of the museum?

Games to help spelling that involve all the family

The old family classic – Scrabble

We can all remember playing scrabble when we were kids and it’s still a great game – maybe for KS2 though. Use the letters to spell the longest word you can and collect the letter points. Maybe to make it child-friendly you could have the vowels (a, e, i, o ,u and y) separately from the consonants to ensure they get a fair sample of letters.

You could even change the rules and make a Countdown type game, where you have preselected the letter tiles and muddled them up. Can they unscramble them to make the real word?

The newer and more flexible – Bananagrams

A Bananagram pouch holds 144 tiles, which are used to form words in a Scrabble-like formation — but without a board. Bananagrams is an anagram puzzle built for speed — think of Scrabble with no board or complicated scoring. There is a version for younger children too – My First BANANAGRAMS utilises lower-case letters and word-building, combo-letter tiles to help nurture your child’s love for wordplay and word games. With multiple activities and mini games, they can enjoy play-progression. This version includes: 80 single tiles 13 combo-letter tiles instructions.