Spelling test help — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Spelling test help

My son started 1st grade this year and it's been a rude awakening.

They get the spelling list every Monday with a test every Friday. They are also expected to read 10 min. every day and keep a log. DS has not done good on his spelling tests and I'm getting frustrated trying to help him. I've tried all different ways of practicing the list everyday and he aces the at home test the night before but then doesn't do good on the test at school. I'm out of ideas. Anyone have advice?
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Re: Spelling test help

  • My son also started first grade this year. They get a packet of homework every Friday and its due the next Friday. They also have spelling words that go out with their packet, reading log, math papers etc etc. They have a test every Friday. Every test my son has got 100%. But my son loves homwork, he finishes it all that Friday. But what it is put in the homwork and what we do is; write every spelling word 3x each, trace each spelling word with a different colored marker/crayon, write a story with the words, make a sentence with each word in it and we also do a pre-test at home on Thursday. I suggest just practicing with him extra at home. Have him say each word at loud and spell it out. I would also suggest talking to the teacher and just letting her know. Maybe you two can find a way to help.
  • My DD just started spelling this week. The teacher sent a worksheet with 12 different "games" and each day we choose one and initial it. On Friday it is turned in as homework. For example, write the work in pencil, trace it with crayon, then trace it with marker. Write each work in upper case then in lower case. Write sentences, each using a spelling word. Practice practice practice!
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  • Thanks for the ideas. It's worth a try. I've tried having him verbally spelling, playing a few spelling apps, hand writing the words, writing it on the bathroom wall with tub markers. It's been hit or miss. He actually would have done good today except for a handwriting mixup. He gets his b & ds backwards. He spelled "crab" " crad". I've also noticed he does the worst when he doesn't get enough sleep the night before so I've really tried to work on getting him to bed earlier it's just hard to fit everything in. He's in daycare after school a few days a week (pick him up at 6pm) and has to wear an eye patch for 2 hours a day to correct his vision and has karate 3 days a week. It's tiring (plus I also have a toddler). I had a conference with the teacher a few weeks ago just to go over in general how he's doing and she wasn't super helpful with ideas. Her only advise was to have him read in the car while I drove to our various activities and try to break up the spelling list to work on only a few words a day. Breaking it up was a good idea but I think verbally spelling isn't helping because the test is written and he is having handwriting issues and can't do that in the car. DS also loathes practicing spelling unless it's one of the apps. I think he'd love playing with shaving cream and maybe the toddler could stay busy with it too!
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  • In first grade we did a few words a night in written form. And then the night before I would have him do any he had trouble with! We pretty much still do this for 2nd and 4th.
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  • I would also talk to the teacher.  If he's an emerging reader, then it's normal to struggle with spelling.  I think it's sort of a waste of time to worry about spelling before then.  I'm not sure it's developmentally appropriate.  But the teacher may have to give spelling words to every kid, regardless of where they are with reading.

    When my kids were really just starting out, the methods mentioned in a reply above worked: shaving cream, rainbow words, etc.  Also, drawing a box around the letters (so that the positions of tall letters and drop down letters become apparent) is helpful.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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  • Mine is in second grade but we went through the same thing. It is so frustrating! I did flashcards and played the M&M game where he got an M&M when he spelled the word correctly (made it fun for his little brother too because everytime the older one got an M&M the younger one got one too). Then the words got harder and harder. It was ridiculous. I talked to the teacher and she said instead of trying to do all 10 focus on just 5. It brought the stress down and he got the 5 right and he felt much better about himself.

    Be careful of too much after school stimulation. I would cut karate down to 2x per week and see how that helps.

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  • My 5 yr old was having trouble with his spelling tests the beginning of school. so what I did was make flash cards of his words, and we would go over them a few times. The ones he couldn't recognize, I set aside and had him write the word 5x each. I have seen a tremendous improvement with his spelling words. 
  • I know I'm late to the game but my daughter is also in 1st grade. We also went through eye patching for 2hrs a day for a year. I feel your pain. A few thoughts/suggestions - if DD is having trouble with just a few words I try and make up a rhyme or something to help remember it. For example tonight she couldn't get 'does' she kept spelling it 'dose' so I chanted ' d o e S yes yes yes!' B/c yes and s rhyme. And with 'catch' she kept forgetting the t so I told her she can't catch fish with out the fishing pole  (the t). You get the idea. Also, for b and d my dd teacher taught them to make a fist with their thumbs up and fingers facing themselves. The left makes a b and the right makes a d. Third, is he practicing with his patch on? If so, try writing without it on at home since that's what it is like at school. Maybe he writes it poorly at home b/c it's his bad eye and that's how he gets used to it and then it's confusing at school? 4th, I found a blank game board that I printed at home. I used a stone as a game piece. Everytime she would write a word correctly she would roll the dice and move that number of spaces until she made it to the end. Works really well if there's someone to play with her. Hope it has gotten better for you or that these will help!
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  • There's some blast from the past names in here.  

    ps.  I think spelling is something that either comes naturally or it doesn't.   Look for patterns in the words usually they are grouped by a pattern like -at words.   Study and if it seems its not clicking.  You might have your son tested.  I have two dyslexic students and one that ace's every spelling test without trying.  He just gets phonics. 

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