How to Teach Spelling without a Curriculum

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Sometimes I look at the list of subjects we need to complete each day with horror. The list keeps growing and growing! Vocabulary, reading, writing, grammar, math, history, science, Latin, so on and so forth. I want to teach spelling without a curriculum!

Do you ever feel the same way?

Teach Spelling without a Curriculum

One trick long-time homeschoolers have learned is how to take a subject off the curriculum list and fold it naturally into your day. Organically study it at times other than your formal homeschooling time.

And spelling is the perfect subject for this!

1. Magnetic Letters on the Fridge

To teach spelling without a curriculum, begin by picking up some magnetic letters to keep on your fridge. These letters are perfect for kids learning to read and write. And they’re fun for older kids to use as well. I still find my college kids using my magnetic letters to write short messages to each other!

Have your kids practice spelling their spelling words using the magnetic letters on the fridge. You don’t need to do this during formal spelling lessons. Instead, challenge your kid to spell a word or two while cooking dinner.

See if they can spell a word after breakfast. Make it fun. Turn it into a game.

My youngest son likes to see if I can stump him during spelling. He gets a point for every correctly spelled word and I get a point for every incorrectly spelled word.

Don’t tell him… I rig the words to make certain he wins: a couple of easy words and then a hard word, a couple of easy words, and then a hard word.

The goal is to work on a word or two throughout the day when you’re in the kitchen. Spelling a couple of words during breakfast. Spelling a couple of words at lunchtime.

And inch by inch your child will learn to spell without the angst of adding another workbook to the pile of material your kid is working through!

2. Chant spelling words while jumping

Another fun way of working on spelling words is to jump. Jump around the house. Head outside and jump rope around the neighborhood. Jump on a trampoline.

While you’re jumping, chant the spelling words together. Chant and drill the words while bouncing around the house.

Jumping and chanting spelling words is perfect for your active kid who doesn’t like to sit down to study!

3. Bounce balls

Another method of studying spelling words outside is to bounce or throw balls. Bounce a ball off a wall. Bounce a ball between yourselves. Or grab a baseball and play catch.

While you are bouncing or throwing balls back and forth, challenge each other to spell words. And see how long you can go before someone misspells a word.

Using balls to practice spelling is a great way to get some fresh air and informally study your spelling.

4. Teach Spelling without a Curriculum with play dough

Have you thought about using play dough to study spelling?

There are two ways to do so. The first is to roll out the playdough into a flat pancake. Then use a toothpick to carefully write the spelling words into the playdough.

The second method works especially well with shorter words. Make a series of long snakes. Then carefully turn the snakes into letters. Can you write an entire word using nothing but snakes?

It’s possible, but a fun challenge to do so!

5. Sing spelling words

Put the words you’re teaching your child how to spell into songs such as BINGO. Except instead of spelling B-I-N-G-O use one of your spelling words. You could even use a different spelling word for different verses of BINGO.

Another option for teaching spelling without a curriculum is to simply add a favorite melody and sing the spelling words instead of the lyrics. Some kids love this.

Mine don’t. They complain I’m destroying their favorite songs.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you don’t need to study spelling formally to teach your kids how to spell. Informal lessons folded into the day work just as well, if not better!

Where to Get Find Spelling Words

The problem with informal spelling lessons is where do you get spelling words to work on with your child? After all, you can’t turn to this week’s lesson and have a list prepped and waiting for you.

1. From a Curriculum

My first suggestion is to use a curriculum. I know this sounds funny when you’re teaching spelling without a curriculum, but it’s a great place to find lists of spelling words.

So if you want to drop your curriculum, change the format. Use the spelling lists but learn the words using one of the methods above. Your child will be happier with informal lessons and you’ll have the comfort of knowing you are studying the words.

Just in a different way than completing endless worksheets!

2. From Your Child’s Writing

Another excellent place to find spelling words is in your child’s writing. As you’re reading through the writing, keep a list of the various misspelled words you find.

As time goes on, you’ll have a long list of words your child needs to learn to spell. My suggestion is to start with the easiest and most frequently used words and work from there.

The long, difficult, and rarely used words are best saved for last.

3. Frequently Misspelled List

Another place to find words for your child is a list of commonly misspelled English words such as this one at Wikipedia. These are difficult words and words quite a few people misspell, even as adults.

Take your time working through the list, but you’ll find your child’s spelling will improve dramatically once these words are learned!

4. Study Phonics

Another excellent approach to studying spelling without investing in a formal curriculum is to re-use your phonics curriculum as a spelling curriculum.

The curriculum will take you through all the common spelling rules. After all spelling and reading are two sides of the same coin. One needs you to interpret the symbols on paper and the other has you turn sounds into symbols!

Spelling doesn’t need to be yet another subject added onto a large pile of material for you and your child to work through every day. Instead, consider studying spelling informally.

Have fun. Sing, jump, bounce balls. And know you can teach spelling without a curriculum!

What are some of your favorite activities to teach spelling without a curriculum?

teach spelling without curriculum

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