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20 fun, summer spelling activities for students with special needs

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Before the internet became a mainstay in American culture and kids could play spelling games online, parents and children spent more time learning together. As engaging as electronic spelling games are, interactive learning activities are truly magical for both child and parent. The following spelling activities are creative, loaded with fun, and rich with parent-child interaction.

First, children need a list of spelling words. When deciding how many words to practice during the week, use these guidelines. If your child is in Kindergarten through third grade, three words is appropriate. If your child is entering fourth through sixth grade, five to eight words per week is suitable. Remember that spelling and vocabulary go hand in hand. Children should not be learning to spell any words that they do not comprehend or cannot use correctly in a sentence.

Try these 20 fun ways to practice your child’s spelling words this summer:

  1. Make up crossword puzzles and trade.
  2. Write the words in glue on a piece of paper and sprinkle the glue with powered jello (smells great and turns on the olfactory and visual centers of the brain).
  3. Make an acrostic with the words. Write each word vertically on the paper, one letter to a line. Find words that begin with each letter. For example, to practice the word “buy”: b = butterfly, u = uplifting, y = young
  4. You and your child can make a word search puzzle on graph paper. Exchange and solve.
  5. Use all the words to write a letter to Superman or another super hero.
  6. Write the alphabet on a piece of paper. Under A, write $1.00. Under B, write $2.00, and so on. Figure up the dollar amount of each of the spelling words.
  7. Make Spelling Pyramids. Write the first letter on the first line. On the line below, write the first and second letters. On the third line, write the first, second, and third letters, and so on.
  8. Use modeling clay to roll out snakes and make a 3-D word sculpture.
  9. Write the words in a bucket of sand or other tactile medium.
  10. Little words-in-big words: write at least two words that can made from the letter in each of the words.
  11. Delicious words: write the words in whipped cream, peanut butter, or anything you can eat!
  12. Cheer the words: your child can pretend he or she is a cheerleader and call out the words! Alternate shouting and whispering for more variety.
  13. Choo-Choo Chain Words: write the entire list of words end-to-end as one long word, using different colors of crayon or ink for each word.
  14. Flashwriting - In a darkened room, use a flashlight to draw letters on the wall.
  15. Find a cute picture and staple a blank piece of paper on top. Write the spelling words on the paper in the shape of the picture.
  16. Make a cardboard keyboard and type the words.
  17. Toss a ball back and forth and spell the words with each throw.

Dr. Kari Miller is a certified educational therapist and director of Miller Educational Excellence. She mentors special needs students to believe in their own success, achieve in school, and change their lives. She can be reached at klmiller555@sbcglobal.net. Visit her website to learn more about tutoring for children with complicated needs such as learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder.

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