SP/Spelling - Method for struggling or very young child

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)
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Unread post by amelasky »

I justed wanted to give you a quick update on our spelling situation. We have had an AWESOME week! I implemented a few of the suggestions that you gave, and they worked. Such a relief.

She actually asked to do spelling FIRST today and she convinced me to let her take her test today instead of tomorrow. Can you believe it?

I know that God has done a miracle here in this situation and that he answered lots of prayers. I spent some time evaluating the situation, how she responded to the new changes, and asked her a few questions. This is what was revealed to me:

using letter tiles (that I found at Wal-Mart), the wipe-off board and focusing on just the beginning and ending sounds (letters) of the words first removed the pressure that she felt. (self-imposed pressure) When she used these things instead of just staring at a blank piece of notebook paper, she did so much better. (kind of a "duh" moment for me.)

She said that she like using the tiles and the wipe-off board because they weren't permanent. She could make changes to her words and there weren't any "mistakes". I told her that she could do that with her paper too. She let me know right away that if she had to use an eraser, it meant that she had made a mistake. WOW! This was such an insight into how she sees things.

It also lets me see other areas that I need to keep praying for her on. I wasn't aware that she was so internally pressured to be "right". (I really don't even want to say she's a perfectionist.)

Thank you so much for your insight, for taking the time to help and for your prayers.
Last edited by amelasky on Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Married to my best friend and high school sweetheart for 18years. Blessed momma to my princess (14) and little warrior (10).
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need help with SP! Please - 4th grade meltdowns

Unread post by cbollin »

TNLisa wrote:4th grade dd is in 2nd year of using SP. She has daily meltdowns with it. I have trudged through it b/c it can be used "forever" --- and I follow the MFW guidelines to a "T" ---
Her meltdowns occur with the initial test of the words --- she doesn't like not seeing the list first - it makes her anxious. I think she's the type of kid that would benefit from studying a list, doing activities with the words, THEN taking a test. Can I rework SP to fit this? Any suggestions?

I did away with the pre test idea. Some ideas for using SP with kids who don't pre test well
well, start here even if it is not "perfectionist" issues. The modified method is a good one for that pre test stuff.

Basically, we do the "I need to study that word" routine instead of testing.
We "test" sorta. But if my kid truly doesn't know how to tackle the word, then she says "I need to just put that one on the study list"

My older child screamed too much doing SP the way with the test and then crossing out during the "immediate check it step". You know what I mean, right? Call out the word, they say it, write it, and then you call out the spelling letter by letter as they check it and then put the line through the wrong spelling and then right it correctly on the other side of the paper...

well, she hated that. I don't know why. She would throw her teenage tantrum in frustration and either scratch the whole thing out with dark lines or try to squeeze in the correction like it didn't happen. As if I cared that she needed to study a word????

so, yes , you can modify it when those pre test actually create more problems. My kids did not mind having to study a longer list even if it included words they could spell. So I didn't see the purpose or benefit in not letting them have an easy word.

Oh, and make sure you take a minute or two to study the group rule before starting the list. Don't just copy it and not go over it. Sometimes it helps my 4th grader when we do some "practice" words first together by moving tiles around on a magnetic board and then she tries the words after that. That way she is practicing the rule before writing anything.

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Unread post by TNLisa »

Thanks Crystal - just checked out the link you'd included. I'm going to try to rework SP to fit her --- rather than throwing it out.
Homeschooling since 2005!
Michele in WA
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Unread post by Michele in WA »

Crystal, you crack me up! I don't know how to copy quotes like you other posters, but lets say, I would just like to see your oldest throw a teenage tantrum over spelling and have your attitude be "Like I care if she needs to study a word?" Sorry... just struck me as funny.

What I really wanted to say to keep in line with the topic was a thank you for reminding me about the "rules" at the beginning of each list. I tend to forget to, uh, explain what they mean.

And to TNLisa, I do a pretest with my oldest, and there is never a problem. My second oldest, however, (almost 10) desperately needs to STUDY words before ever trying to spell them. Doing a pretest with her is useless, as she ends up studying most of them anyway. I tired throwing out SP last year with her, and went back to it this year because the spelling was the same with a different curriculum.... I just needed to tweak one of them to make it work with dd.

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Unread post by henryteachers »

My daughter has had meltdowns as well with SP.

With the new year, I had her decide on a spelling goal. Her goal is to learn 2 new words a day. (This may seem small but I'm hoping we'll progress better this way.)

So because it is her idea, and she realizes we're not trying to get all the words right the first time, just to learn 2 words that she missed, it hasn't been so difficult for her. I give her the pre-test until she misses only 2. We haven't had one meltdown this week! Yeah! I also made a fun spelling bin and put tons of fun activities suggested from SP and others to do to practice the words, which she pulls out and chooses on her own. She doesn't feel overwhelmed as much and then the next day she is excited to practice the 2 words she learned from the day before and get them right! Hope something in there helped!
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Needing some support - Tears

Unread post by TammyB »

saralynn wrote:My 11 year old hates spelling. Because he doesn't like it, it is the last thing that we do and too often gets skipped. Last year he was in tears during testing and scored about 2nd grade. He won't do much better this year, but in general info. he is H.S. level. Last year I used something else, which didn't work. Spelling Power works...but we do not enjoy it. I have begged everyone in my house ( husband, Mom, nephew) to do it with the boys, but the tears and frustration send everyone running.
Hi, Sara,

My heart goes out to you over the spelling issue with your eleven year old. My oldest recently turned nine, and spelling has always been a struggle with him. Last year at the end of second grade he scored at kindergarten, ninth month. I wasn't surprised. :) He will again be tested in early June, and I expect him to score somewhere around the second grade level. I will, in fact, feel quite pleased if he does. That will show progress!

I have been using Spelling Power very successfully with him this year...with some modification (and no tears from either of us). I won't bother with the details if you have already chosen another program. :)

Take a summer break, too. We all need one! :)

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Re: Needing some support.

Unread post by saralynn »

KellyinPA wrote:I would like to hear how you using Spelling Power. My boys love to write stories but their spelling is very much, how shall I say, "inventive" ;) We've used R&S (as per MFW recs) this year but haven't seen much transfer to their free time writing. They are just turning 8 in July and we won't have to test here in PA until they are almost 10 so I'm not overly concerned on that end. I'm hoping that Spelling Power will help us to kick it up a notch but I really don't want them to be frustrated either.
In response to the question how do I do Spelling Power now.
Well, I call out the words until they miss 3, and have them "study" them the SP way. Then they use them in sentences. My 11 year old Jonathan started his love of writing with these sentences. I allowed him to be as creative as he wanted to be...even when he told me how much and why he doesn't or does like things... as long as he is not disrespectful.
Then next time start with those missed words.

RJ's Momma
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Re: Needing some support.

Unread post by RJ's Momma »

I also use Spelling Power a bit differently. We test on Friday's only. We go through words until she misses 8-10 then spend the next week studying those words. Sometimes she just copies them, sometimes she says them outloud to me, sometimes she uses a computer game we have to practice them. Then on the next Friday we start with the words she had missed and go again until she misses her 8-10 words. I mark with a '-' next to the words she misses (in the book) and then once she gets them right I mark those words with a (+) to show she knows them. After we finish a level we go back to those words and see if she still has them before moving on to the next level. She will have done 1 1/2 levels this year:) And most of the time, Friday is the only day *I* am involved with her spelling.

Spelling is the one thing (okay writing too) that we didn't focus on enough at a younger age and dd is behind. However after doing spelling this way with this program spelling is now her favorite subject and she is quickly progressing in this skill. Writing however, is her least favorite subject:)

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Spelling Power Question - Slow writing

Unread post by TurnOurHearts »

For His Glory wrote:How important is it to have the student write the group rule at the top of each day's test, and should that count as part of the 5 minutes of testing time? It's been taking my son almost 5 minutes just to write the rule down, so I'm wondering if I should skip that part, just discuss it verbally with him or what. Thanks! :)
Before my son got faster with his writing, I used to write the rule up on our white board & just review it with him each day before spelling.

HTH ~ :)
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SP as a list-a-week

Unread post by TriciaMR »

I know some people turn SP into a list-a-week type of spelling and use Spelling City online for activities for the week.

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LA in Baltimore
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Spelling Power for 6-year-old?

Unread post by LA in Baltimore »

kidswife wrote:We are on day 40 of 1st grade with my daughter (soon to be 6-yr-old, next month).
We are loving it.
Due to the fact that about 6 months or so ago, she started asking me how to spell about 20 words a day, I decided to start her on a spelling program. With that, I started her on MFW recommended, Rod & Staff 2nd grade spelling even before we started the MFW 1st grade curriculum. She has done well. She might miss one word, max, on her spelling tests, but now, we are half-way through the book. I asked her if she liked this spelling workbook, and she said that she just didn't like the big unit spelling tests with the 25 words. So I think I'll just flag her misspelled words, and go over that for the unit tests...

Okay, so here's my question... when we're done with this R&S book (which could possibly be by the end of this calendar year) should I go ahead with Spelling Power, or should I progress her with Rod & Staff? OR... are there any other "fun" programs out there you all have used for an eager speller?? I debated just holding off for a while, but again,... the constant requests all day for spelling words out...

Thanks for any advice!!
That is an interesting question!
Since she obviously loves to spell, I understand your desire to fill that need.
A call to the MFW office might be helpful. They always have been full of encouragement and sound advice when I've called.
Six years (1st grade) does seem a little young to start Spelling Power since it is geared for grade 3 up, but having used it with my 4 I think you probably could start it and maybe modify how you use it.
I'm sure you'll be hearing from others tomorrow or later tonight if they are on the west coast or international! :-)
Only by His grace,
LA in Baltimore
Currently enjoying Rome to the Reformation
Graduated oldest May 2010, Three more to go!

Re: Spelling Power for 6-year-old?

Unread post by cbollin »

I have some ideas to share from my years of not doing it right with my oldest and then learning to do it better with my next. Still learning. I wish I knew then what I know now. So, I share with others so they don't have the same challenge down the road that my oldest did. :)

If you continue with R&S, I think it is book 3 where the books have cursive. (maybe someone with experience in that book can share) I don’t think that’s the route to go in your situation as it is geared for older kids who have grown use to longer lists too. So if your daughter is balking at review unit already, then... nah....

If you decide to go with Spelling Power, my suggestion would be to use SP with the younger student method. That’s in the book itself. And don’t place her too high in the spelling list for her age. I don't care if she places into level D, just learn the program on level A if she's only 7 years old. The early part will be easy easy easy for her (my guess), but it will be helpful to learn the program and have fun. It would encourage her that she knows how to spell many things.

I have some general ideas to share from my experience. When she is asking you how to spell a specific word, write it down and let her copy it on her paper. If you have the time, while you are writing the word for her to copy, go ahead and you say the syllables out loud, then spell each letter as you write it. It will help her to have that mom model to learn how to do it on her own.

Make a spelling dictionary of her words so she can begin to practice special words to her and look them up. Many times it is very common to blank on a spelling rule while in the process of writing. So, it is perfectly ok to tell her a word that she is blanking on. Given her age, I’m almost reminded of how preschoolers will start “what’s that say?” “what’s that say?” It doesn’t always really mean they are ready for a full phonics program. She might be ready for real spelling lessons (and probably is at age 6 in MFW 1st), but let's drop back to make sure the foundations are ready.

You’re on day 40 of MFW 1st grade. There are some hidden treasures of spelling lessons in the program that you may or may not have done. Those include learning to listen for individual sounds in a syllable and learning to listen for individual syllables. Even students who are ahead of the reading curve will benefit from doing the “phonics” lessons in MFW 1st and using it for foundations of spelling. Children learning to read in MFW 1st grade get the double benefit of the balanced approach.

I would slow her down a little from completing the R&S workbook for right now. I agree with you on that. Then, I’d use the spelling foundation lessons that are in MFW 1st. Even though there aren’t spelling lists per se in the MFW program, there are important spelling foundation lessons. The lists in the blue workbook can be used as spelling lists as well as foundational lessons in spelling other words of interest.

I mentioned listening for individual sounds and learning how to do syllable. Do those lessons. Help your daughter when she is trying to figure out how to spell something to listen for the syllables and the sounds in each syllable and then to think about what phonogram (the reading chart that you probably aren’t using) makes that sound. That way she can try all of that first while writing her poems and stories, and then underline the word and ask you later. Did I get the right choice of long A in this word? So, teach her to try with proper sounds, make a mark to come back and ask you later, and then always have an encouraging word to share with her on it.

Some of the other foundations of spelling lessons are marking the vowels in that blue workbook. This will help young students to look for the proper phonogram that is making the sound that they hear and to know proper combination of vowels to use, and how to change suffixes, and all of that. And the advantage of using MFW 1st for that with 6 y.o (over using R&S book) is that Marie Hazell provides more scripting in 1st grade manual for it. I know the R&S book has a teacher's edition, but Marie Hazell's "script notes" are very helpful.

Use the reading chart for looking up spelling options.

I remember from other threads that she is ahead of the curve in reading, so I would use the MFW 1st grade phonics as your spelling program as it builds the foundations of being able to try a word on your own. And if she is needing to take a step back to foundations, then now is the time to do that. That’s one of the reasons I tend to preach on this forum about how to use the phonics in MFW K and/or 1st with an advanced reader. It's about keeping the balance in language arts and not missing important foundation building blocks. If she’s eager to spell and to learn to spell, it starts with learning to hear individual sounds and individual syllables, and learning what combination of letters make what sounds.

just a few ideas to digest there.
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Re: Spelling Power for 6-year-old?

Unread post by kidswife »

Always such great (and thorough) advice, Crystal. Thank you so much for taking the time out to help me.

I will try the personal spelling lists. And I will also try to have her refer to the MFW 1st grade "phonics" chart to try to figure things out on her own. She's actually made a copy (or 2) of that chart on her own... what a great idea to put it to use in her everyday writing!

We are following MFW 1st as is, but you're right, I have been tending to gloss over the (very easy for her) portions of phonics and spelling, because they aren't a challenge. We do them, but I just don't emphasize it much since she seems to understand it right away. Perhaps spending an extra minute (or 2) on it would do more good.

I didn't realize R&S grade 3 Spelling was in cursive. I was planning to start cursive with her soon through Memoria Press' New American Cursive, which is geared towards 1st graders. She eager to do it. She writes very well already (esp for a lefty), and since I already bought the cursive book, she's been chomping at the bit to start it. So maybe the R & S grade 3 Spelling would be a good "fun" workbook to just give her to bide her time...
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Cyndi (AZ)
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Re: Spelling Power for 6-year-old?

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) »

I do not recommend R&S grade 3. I was in the "grade 2 is way too easy for my dd" boat and bought grade 3. Erased the first 2 lessons and sold it. I don't know if I even remember all the reasons; the cursive didn't make it "fun" for my dd, the lines were small, it was so work-bookish, the words were still too easy, etc.

My dd is a very advanced natural speller. I spoke at length with the MFW office both before and after doing the Spelling Power pre-tests with her. She started SP at 6.5yo, so yes, it is possible. We started 3 levels lower than where she placed, to be sure she was in the correct vocabulary set. I ditto the suggestion to call the MFW office -- they walked me through the whole spelling process, especially for using SP with a young student. It is nice to have an *easy* subject in the day.

MFW1 phonics teaches spelling rules in a very gentle, very effective way. I highly recommend using the words as short spelling lists. It provides a great intro to spelling. R&S spelling is good for some, but workbook isn't the best in every situation, IMHO.
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Re: Spelling Power for 6-year-old?

Unread post by RachelT »

Hi! If you call the MFW office I am sure they can help you get a plan together. When I talked to someone at MFW about it on the phone, this person said that SSbS is really to help 2nd graders with a phonics review and said to go ahead with my dd and begin using SP. My dd is only about 4 months from turning 8 which is the age that SP is recommended to begin at. The thing that I like about SP is that even if she places at a higher level, I can change that placement if it's too much and go back down to earlier levels. I'm not stuck with one grade level at a time.

When my dd was 6, turning 7 she started writing lots of things and reading naturally, but I made sure that we went through every lesson in the MFW 1st gr. phonics book so that she really had a great foundation. We added in fun spelling games and extra reading or extra time to draw, trace, or color the pictures in her 1st gr. Bible notebook. We also worked on lists of sight words, reading and then learning to spell them. I think you can add in extra activities like these for awhile before jumping too far ahead.
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Julie in MN
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What should I do about spelling?

Unread post by Julie in MN »

sojen wrote:My dd7 has been using Spelling by Sound and Structure this year and struggling terribly. We have tried all kinds of ways to supplement- online spelling games, tactile activities, white board, etc. She is still only getting 4-6 words correct every week. We are on Lesson 27 and, as usual, she does fine on the workbook pages. However, after two days of practicing the words with her out loud and with some games she still only got four right on the test.

I am also wondering which direction to take next year with spelling. I have the Spelling Power book and I just don't think she is anywhere near ready. Advice? Hugs?

I might just drop "spelling tests" until your dd is ready for them again. I wouldn't think waiting until age 10 would do any harm.

Meanwhile, you could present a certain number of words each week, talk about them, maybe copy them.

The Writing Strands guy said that if you have one challenging word each week that you really talk about at the dinner table, post on the bathroom mirror, etc., then the child will learn 52 words per year, times 13 years of school... and he will never forget :)

Postby Julie in MN » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:39 pm
I'll vote to say it's okay to start spelling tests next year with a child who cannot bear them. If you worry too much, you can always gently bring up a word now and again in random conversation. But really, remember my oldest son was 8 in 2nd grade and he's an engineer now, so your child is ahead of him :)

Also, there are some good ideas about using games and marker boards and other things to keep the spelling going with a 2nd grader in the archives:
Ideas for reinforcing spelling words: http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1991
Is it okay to do this orally? http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2639
Ideas for teaching: http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1051

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Re: What should I do about spelling?

Unread post by jhagberg »

Julie in MN wrote:I might just drop "spelling tests" until your dd is ready for them again. I wouldn't think waiting until age 10 would do any harm.
I agree with Julie! I would keep doing everything else, workbook pages, spelling games, and other activities, but drop the tests. Spend one week on a lesson, and then move on to a new lesson.

My ds7 is also using SSS. I waited to start it until halfway through Adventures because he used to cry every time we did spelling (different program). He's a smart boy, but spelling was just over his head. The workbook pages in SSS are just right for him (comfortable, easy) so I have him do this:
LOOK at the word he's going to write on the line,
SAY the word out loud,
SPELL the word out loud,
CLOSE his eyes and SPELL it out loud,
LOOK at the word again to check,
WRITE the word on the line without looking. ("If you get stuck, go ahead and look at the word again.")

It sounds complicated, but it only takes him 5 seconds! My goal for him at this point is not mastery, but just a daily exercise in language mechanics. How are words put together? What sounds do I hear? What letters make those sounds? It's a great phonics review!

So, relax, there will be plenty of time for spelling tests later! ((hugs))

I am the mother of 4 boys, and I've been using MFW since 2010. :-)
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Re: What should I do about spelling?

Unread post by 1974girl »

This is just a thought to help with testing. www.spellingcity.com is a free site. You enter in your spelling words and then they play games like hangman. Mine always liked to use it. They really didn't even understand they were learning! My DD 1st grade PS teacher recommended it for the whole class. It helped so much we continued using it while homeschooling. Just a thought.
LeAnn-married to dh 17 yrs
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Re: What should I do about spelling?

Unread post by sojen »

Thank you ladies for all the sweet comments and good ideas.
Julie in MN wrote:I might just drop "spelling tests" until your dd is ready for them again. I wouldn't think waiting until age 10 would do any harm.
Haha, I hardly do spelling with my 10 yo either. Yikes! But she is a great speller.
jhagberg wrote:I agree with Julie! I would keep doing everything else, workbook pages, spelling games, and other activities, but drop the tests. Spend one week on a lesson, and then move on to a new lesson.
I agree with Julie, too. Thank you ladies for helping me feel better about this. :)
1974girl wrote:This is just a thought to help with testing. http://www.spellingcity.com is a free site.
I love Spelling City!! She loves Spelling City. Doesn't help on her tests one bit. :~

We will try the no testing thing this week and see how it goes. Now, just need to figure out what to do next year.
Jen in GA
mom to dd 11, dd 8, and ds 5
traveling through the medieval world with RTR.
Slowly starting kindergarten with my little guy.
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