7 July 2009 10:29 AM

Summer Spelling Tips for Kids

by Dr. Rick

This summer the Dr. Rick Blog has concentrated on some tips and advice for keeping learning alive during the school holidays.  (My blogs of 8 June 2009, 15 June 2009, 25 June 2009, 2 July 2009 discussed summer learning, summer reading, time management, and summer writing.)  More is coming.  My constant and familiar mantra is “Summer’s a time for slowing down, not shutting down.”


There’s plenty of time in the summer for kids to be carefree and active, liberated from school routines and free to indulge interests, discover new talents, and get plenty of outdoor exercise.  But that doesn’t mean their minds are shut down.


Today, let’s concentrate on a dozen tips your family can consider to keep kids’ spelling skills sharp during the summer.  (See my blogs of 21 October 2008 and 27 October 2008 for additional information.)  Remember, all language arts skills – reading, writing, listening, and speaking – are related, so when you read, write, speak, and listen with your child, you’re strengthening all those skills.


  1. Create a word wall.  Write new words your child has mastered on colored paper and “chain” them around her room as a constant and colorful reminder of her increasing vocabulary.  A “mini word wall” can be equally efficient and more public on the refrigerator.  The more words, the higher the confidence rises.

  2. Choose a Letter-of the-Day.  Together with really young kids, each day select a letter that your family is going to focus on.  Find words in the newspaper, magazines, online, on billboards, and around town that begin with that letter.  Make a list of those words.  Enlist the participation of older siblings and other family members.  Share the words you’ve all discovered at family time.

  3. Do a scavenger hunt.  Find items that begin with a certain letter.  First to find ten items wins an extra ten minutes of bedtime story reading.  (Bedtime reading is one of the few times you can loosen up a routine!)

  4. Be an artist.  With your children, draw or cut out pictures of people, items, and events that start with a certain letter.  Be creative and exaggerated for emphasis and vocabulary-building.  “F is for flaming fireworks, Fourth of July, fishing, frolicking, fast footraces, free time, fresh fruit, family, friends, and fields full of flawless flowers.” Exhibit these pictures for the whole family to appreciate.

  5. Highlight names.  Write the names of family members and friends on cards so the youngest kids recognize them.  Start with their own names, of course.  Decorate the cards with pictures of these people or their hobbies.

  6. Play word games in the car.  Kids really don’t need to be in front of a screen all the time, especially in the car.  For each five minutes on a ride, spot as many items as you can that begin with a certain letter.  Make a list.  After five minutes, change the letter.

  7. Keep a summer journal.  Writing helps spelling like no other activity.

  8. Play games that reinforce spelling.  Play Scrabble, do crossword puzzles (they’re a healthy addiction), make up silly words and rhymes.  Rhyming and word games help kids understand the main principle of phonics – letters make sounds and sounds make words.

  9. Have a pen pal.  Kids love getting mail.  Snail mail is more fun than email.

  10. Create your own spelling lists.  Use favorite summer activities, summer books, and summer interests as your source for words.  Find cool summer books by visiting the free www.bookadventure.org for book suggestions and kids’ prizes.

  11. Have a family spelling bee.  Use words from your readings, your vacation, or your family interests.

  12. Practice, practice, practice.  Then review.  If you’re looking for spelling practice workbooks, check out Sylvan’s, which are excellent.  Go to www.randomhouse.com/sylvanlearningbookstore for a virtual tour.

There’s so much opportunity to improve your kids’ spelling skills and get them confidently ready for the new school year.  Don’t waste summer with a lot of boring, passive time-wasters.  Have fun, certainly, just don’t shut down.


What’s your family do to keep kids active and learning during the summer?  Share with us by clicking on Comment below.




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