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Spelling simplified: Tactile and kinaesthetic learning

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By Eileen Joneseducational journalist, author and literacy specialist

In the second part of this series on multi-sensory approaches to teaching spelling, we explore tactile and kinaesthetic learning

Owl © totallyjamie/www.istockphoto.com

Last issue’s ‘Spelling simplified’ article concentrated on visual and auditory styles of learning; this month we move on to tactile and kinaesthetic learning. For this learning style, interaction is paramount. Straws, string, sand, sponge writing, letter tiles, and ball and beanbag games all offer opportunities for children to feel, touch and do memorable actions. The secret is to think creatively, but the basic message remains the same: spelling is fun!

Activities

  1. Feel and say
  2. Finger writing
  3. Boogle
  4. Trace the shape
  5. Going fishing
  6. Top spelling tips

1. Feel and say

Put the children into small groups and give each group a drawstring bag of plastic or wooden lower case letters. The children should take it in turns to put their hand into the bag and feel a letter. They must say the letter and make its sound before removing it. If correct, they keep it; if they are wrong, they return it and the bag moves to the next child. The game continues until the bag is empty. The child with the most letters wins.

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2. Finger writing

Give each child a copy of the words in one of the lists on Activity sheet 1, ‘Finger writing’. Ask the children to work in pairs. One child should close their eyes, while the other ‘writes’ one of the words with their finger on their partner’s back or hand. Can the first child feel and say the word? Once both children can identify most words, they can move onto another list.

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3. Boogle

Ask the children to work in fours. Give each group a drawstring bag filled with plastic or wooden letters. The children should take turns to pick out and keep a letter. When they can make a word (of two or more letters) they should shout ‘Boogle’ and set out the word. If approved, the word stays on display and its maker wins points (two points for a two-letter word, three for a three-letter word, and so on). The game continues until someone calls ‘Boogle’ again; it finishes when no-one can make a word. Allow less-confident children to work with a partner.

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Take a look at the previous article in this series that takes a visual and auditory learning approach to teaching spelling.

4. Trace the shape

Challenge the children to play the Interactive resource, ‘Spelling simplified: Tactile and kinaesthetic learning’. Led by the cheerful Big Wise Owl, this engaging resource invites children to practise recognising correct vowel phonemes.

Spelling simplified: Tactile and kinaesthetic learning

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5. Going fishing

Make copies of Activity sheet 2, ‘Going fishing’, cut out the fish-shaped words and attach a paper clip to the back of each fish. During the lesson, arrange the children into groups and give each group a magnetic fishing rod (a stick with a piece of string and a magnet attached) and a large plastic hoop (to make a pond). Scatter the fish words face down in the ponds. Tell the children that they can catch a fish using their magnetic rods but, to keep it, they must identify the word and change it to its ‘ing’ form. When the children catch a fish, they should turn it over, read it and write down the ‘ing’ form of the word. If they say and spell the word correctly, they keep it; otherwise, it returns to the pond. The child who finishes with the biggest catch is the winner.

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Top spelling tips

  • Display spellings of the week. Then, make lining up fun by asking the children to write one of the words in the air or to identify a word that the child behind them writes on their back.
  • Give everyone a piece of card with a compound word written on it. Can the children work out where to draw a wavy jigsaw line to divide it?
  • Deal out jigsaw halves from the previous tip. Can everyone find a compound partner?
  • Play ‘Human anagram’. Give each group an envelope of letters and ask them to arrange themselves into the word you say.
  • Ask the children to type their homework spellings. Controlling a computer keyboard will encourage awareness of letter placing.

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