We talk about fun and games together, and sometimes games get a bad rap in the classroom. They’re seen as fillers, time-wasters, or a break from learning. Yes, sometimes games can be just for fun or used as a brain break, but games, like classroom spelling games or math games, are important teaching tools.
Classroom spelling games give kids a different way to engage with spelling words and patterns like multiple spellings for the same sound. Well-thought-out classroom spelling games can provide practice of any number of skills or concepts including:
- Phoneme manipulation
- Writing words
- Reading spelling words
- Saying different words and sounds
And while they are learning spelling and practicing literacy skills, they are also working on other skills like following rules, taking turns, sequence of events, cooperation, fairness, and competition.
Most kids love games, so having classroom spelling games in your toolkit is a plus. Do pay attention to kids who struggle with competition or games with speed. Pairing a spelling speed demon with a struggling speller is unlikely to have good results. Pairing two students of similar abilities gives both a chance to practice at their level. Competition motivates some students, but many games can be adapted to be played cooperatively or individually too!
Uses for classroom spelling games
While we often think of games as an additional practice tool, you can use classroom spelling games in many ways in your classroom:
- Warm ups
- Independent practice
- Small group work
- Informal assessment
- Academic choice time activity
Let’s look at using classroom spelling games as warm ups. What better tool to use when introducing a new lesson or concept than something fun?
Warm up with classroom spelling games
One way to use classroom spelling games as a warm up is to use a familiar game—like I Spy or a card-based matching game—to introduce a new concept or new list of words.
Alternately, sometimes I use a classroom spelling game that draws on a previous lesson and builds a new skill. For example, if students have practiced single syllable words with the long e sound, use a game to introduce 2- or 3-syllable long e sound words.
You can use classroom spelling games to preview new spelling words or as a quick pre-assessment to see what students already know.
Here are two warm up games you can use when teaching multiple spellings of a single sound.
Give each student a card with a spelling word on it. Tell students that their words have a common spelling with other words and they need to form blobs or groups based on their spelling pattern. For example, if you are working on long a sounds, some students will have words that use a, while others will have words using other patterns, like ai, ay, a-e, or ea. Students should identify their pattern and start saying it as they rotate around the room gathering with other students with the same pattern. Ask each group to come up with at least one other word with their spelling pattern.
Sorting it out
You can play this with the whole class or a small group. Create a “station” for each spelling of a sound. For example, if you are working on /er/, you’d have a station for er, ir, or, ur, and ear. This can be a labeled paper or bin on a table or spread out around the room. Depending on time and the number of students playing, give each student a few cards with words including different spellings of the same sounds. Have students distribute their cards to the correct station.
Alternately, give a group of students a stack of cards. Tell them the words share one sound, but that there are different spellings. Have them sort the cards by spelling and create the stations that show the different spellings of the sound.
More classroom spelling games
You can get more classroom spelling games that you can use as warm ups (or in other ways), start with some free games here. But don’t stop there, because warm ups are just the start for classroom spelling games, so you’ll want lots!
Make it easy on yourself with ready to download and go games. Students will love Spelling Card Games for Advanced Patterns. It comes with games featuring 20 different phonemes, each with multiple spelling patterns (each phoneme includes single syllable and multisyllabic words), word cards for each phoneme and spelling pattern, and of course instructions.
If you want games that cover:
- /k/ (c, k, ck)
- /l/ (l, ll, le)
- /ch/ (ch, tch)
- /ae/ (a, ai, ay, a-e, ea)
- /ee/ (e, ea, y, ee, ey, ie)
- /oe/ (o, oa, ow, o-e, oe)
- /er/ (er, ir, or, ur, ear)
- /e/ (e, ea, ai)
- /ow/ (ou, ow)
- m/oo/n (oo, ew, ue, u-e, o, ou, u)
- /ie/ (i, ie, y, i-e, igh)
- b/oo/k (oo, u, oul)
- /u/ (u, o, ou, oo)
- /s/ (s, ss, st, c, ce, se, sc)
- /l/ (l, ll, al, el, il, le, ol)
- /or/ (or, aw, a, ar, au, al, ore)
- /air/ (air, are, ear, ere, eir, ayer, ayor)
- /ue/ (ue, ew, u, u-e)
- /oy/ (oi, oy)
- /ar/ (ar, a, al, au)
This is the game set for you.
Get kids warmed up and ready to spell with classroom spelling games. Have fun!