Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shamrock- Spelling, Word Family Sort

Confession Time: One thing that I have not done well these past couple of years is to include activities that show word family patterns.  Both LD and DD learned to read easily and early.  Once they were off and reading, I guess I never saw much "point" in going over these kinds of things. But then... then I saw LD struggle as a writer. He has worked hard on the very mechanics of writing.  He works on Handwriting Without Tears and has done lots of copywork.  All this, however, didn't make a dent in the struggle he had with free form, creative writing and the spelling that went along with that skill.

This year we added in All About Spelling.  Like so many others have said, this program has been a wonderful addition to our day.  LD has gained a lot of confidence and we are making slow, but steady progress. The magnetic tiles mean that we can leave the letters up on small white board.
At times the All About Spelling lesson went on a bit long for LD.  Once I made these notebooks, our lesson times became more consistent. (LD and DD each have their own notebook, but I put both there so you could see the two different pages in each notebook.) There are two kinds of pages -- on the first there are two columns: "My First Try" and "Corrections."  At this point, he really only uses one column (if he makes a mistake there was enough room to make a correction on that line), so the second column is used the next day. If I had to do it over again I'd just write "Spelling Practice Page" with numbers 1-10 and the challenge words (two columns). The second type of page is  "My Words to Learn." More about this in a sec.

So here's how our lesson generally goes: When we first start our lesson, as I'm pulling things out, LD copies his "Words to Learn" from the previous day correctly into the column next to it.  Then we do the lessons, pull down tiles to make words, etc.  Then at the end of the lesson I have him write out 10 words and a "challenge word."  Of these 10 words, 3 words are usually review words, 4 words are generally from the lesson presented that day and the last 3 words and challenge words are from a list called "The 1000 most common words" or something like that.  Since this list includes a lot of "sight" words, it's been a good way to incorporate words I feel he really should know for his creative writing. (Let me know if you want the link to the high frequency word list and I'll hunt it down.) For any words he spelled wrong, he copies them onto a second page labeled "My Words to Learn"  at the end of his lesson.

So that comes to today's post with the word family activity I pictured. Over the course of the next few months I plan to incorporate more activities related to word family groups (for both LD and DD).  The pictures above and below emphasize the "Long I" sound (and also the /s/ sound made by a "C" when it comes before E (I and Y).  LD finds it "easy" but I've found I can help him self correct his own writing if I remind him that he saw that spelling pattern.

Cherry Carl has a wonderful set of posters with word family groups (see the photo below which includes 4 of these "posters.") What's lovely about them is that you can choose the rule you want to emphasize and she has already created a page of words (ng, nk, ck, long A, etc. etc.) You can find that file here it has over 70 pages of word family groups.  


  1. Thanks for a very informative post! Karen

  2. I am SO interested in this idea, as I just bought AAS level 1, and am picking it up tomorrow... so this may make more sense after I actually see the program. Do you use the notebook pages the same way with DD as you do with LD?

    Thanks for the link to the posters! These will be very useful!

  3. Hi Leann,

    Yes, DD uses the notebook in the same way, but depending on how it's going that day I don't always have her write all 10 words. Because DD is so enthusiastic about writing love notes, stories and other things, I'm not keen to push her in any way. I worry because of LD's writing reluctance, even though she's an entirely different personality.

  4. new question.... I've now picked up my AAS kit, and it didn't contain the book that's in the picture. What is this?

    :-) Leann

  5. Hi Leann,

    This is a children's dictionary from my childhood (looking at the copyright, it must have been my Mom's c1939!). It's a fabulous book called A Picture Dictionary for Children (480 Pages of Simple Words with Pictures by Garnette Watters and SA Courtis). I was going to talk about it in my post, but then felt that the post was getting too long.

    Anyway, I have started introducing LD to the idea of using a dictionary to check his spelling or to figure out the spelling of a word. What I like about this dictionary is that the word is presented both in print and in cursive. LD can use it to verify how the letters are connected in cursive. There are some pictures and also each word is used in a simple sentence. It's been great for LD, but DD is definitely too young for it.

    I saw that this book is available on ebay for about $6 and through Amazon for $0.01 (though probably a different edition). My copy is green.

    Hope that helps.
    PS -- Just wanted to add the dictionary also has verb conjugations and the plurals of nouns.