Kids learn how to spell while they are learning how to read. Reading is decoding, while spelling is encoding. For beginners, reading tends to be easier than spelling, since spelling requires the ability to segment sounds and remember the symbol that correlates with each sound. The strategies you use on kindergarten spelling lists can help set your student up for success in both reading and writing.
While you’re teaching your kindergartner how to spell, you can guide her through segmentation by asking: First sound? Next sound? Last sound? (if the word has more than 3 sounds, simply add more ‘Next sound?’ questions). These simple cues help teach your kindergartner that spelling is not guesswork, but instead a process of writing sounds in order.
In this post, I will provide some sample spelling lists for your kindergartner. DO NOT show your student these lists. She is not supposed to review these spelling words or memorize them (these are phonetic spelling lists). Instead, have her spell one of these lists at the end of her phonics lesson. She should write each word by recalling the sound-symbol correlations. In sum, encourage her to write sound-by-sound.
Short a spelling list
- Pam sat.
Notice there are only 2 words and 1 sentence. In the beginning, this is enough. Slowly increase the length of the spelling list as your kindergartner learns more phonics sounds.
For each phonics sound, she’ll probably need to practice across 2-3 lessons. Thus, while I only provide 1 spelling list per phonics sound in this post, the teacher should create 2-3 spelling lists per phonics sound. This way, the student can review the new sound across multiple lessons.
Short i spelling list
- Tim will sit at the mat.
You can only include short i and short a words at this point.
Teach short e last. Struggling readers tend to have the most difficulty with the short e sound.
Short o spelling list
- The cat sat on a log.
The length has increased to 4 words and 1 sentence. Try to pick words that she has not memorized. If she’s memorized how to spell “cat,” use “bat” instead. Your student should not memorize these words, but instead, learn to write phonetic words sound-by-sound.
Short u spelling list
- The pup dug in the mud.
Notice how each list includes plenty of review. In your kindergartners’ short u spelling lesson, she also spells short a, short i, and short o words.
Short e spelling list
- The dog fell on a bug.
After your student has gone through all short vowels, she’s ready to spell 6 phonetic words and 1 sentence per lesson.
sh spelling list
- The shell is red.
Notice how the same vowel sounds are not right next to each other. If the teacher writes a series of words with the same vowel sound (ex. hid, fig, kid, kit…etc.), the student will simply memorize the vowel. Vary the vowels. Have your student spell a short i word, short o word, short a word, short i/sh word… etc.
th spelling list
The /th/ digraph makes 2 sounds: /th/ as in math and /th/ as in then.
- Thad the dog hid in a box.
You can see interleaving or mixed practice in this list (as in all of them). When you create spelling lists, always incorporate old phonics sounds into new lists.
ch spelling list
- Chad has this red hat.
Only include phonics sounds your student has learned in her phonics lessons. You cannot include “cheer” in the /ch/ spelling list, because she has not learned the /ee/ sound yet. The teacher should only include short vowel ch words like: chill, chug, chin, chip… etc. Kindergarten spelling lists (and all future elementary spelling lists for that matter) should focus on teaching students one sound at a time.
_tch spelling list
- Tom can hop to the ditch.
As I create the kindergarten spelling lists, I’m using all the same principles: 1. I’m reviewing old phonics sounds. 2. I’m only using phonics sounds the student has learned in her phonics lessons. 3. I’m using interleaving or mixing up the words. For example, I’m NOT putting all short i words next to each other. I’m varying the vowel each time. 4. I’m ensuring that the student cannot memorize the spelling of the words. I want the student to spell sound-by-sound, not memorize. Thus, I’m choosing different words across lessons.
The tactics you use on kindergarten spelling lists are important for your student’s lasting success.
_ck spelling list
- The hen can peck at the bugs.
_ng, _ing, _ang spelling list
- Tam sang a long song.
wh_ spelling list
- Beth sat in the sun.
Consonant blends spelling list
I do not advocate that students memorize consonant blends. They should be reading and spelling consonant blends sound-by-sound. This means, there are no consonant blend flashcards in lessons. Phonemic awareness activities simply get a bit harder to help the student read and spell longer words.
- Kel went “bang, bang, bang,” on the drums.
Spelling consonant blend words is significantly harder than spelling 3 phoneme words. Thus, sprinkle in some 3 phoneme words like “pop” and “jig” into the spelling list to reduce the difficulty level. Kindergarten spelling lists should always be leveled so the student isn’t frustrated (lesson is too hard) or bored (lesson is too easy).
silent e spelling list
- Jane can skate on the ice pond.
In sum, when you create kindergarten spelling lists:
- Introduce one sound at a time.
- Always review old phonics sounds.
- Use interleaving. Mix old phonics sounds with new phonics sounds.
- Vary words across lessons. This way, your student does not memorize how to spell the words. Instead, she learns how to spell sound-by-sound, a much more transferable skill.
Spelling is critical for reading and writing success. Every phonics lesson should include a spelling activity. I hope these sample kindergarten spelling lists help you create quality lists for your student.
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