Teaching kids to spell includes much more than a list of spelling words students should memorize and write on a spelling test each week. Effective spelling methods do not rely on rote memorization, but are developmentally appropriate and hands-on. Word Study is a widely research-based spelling approach whose purpose is to “examine words in order to reveal the logic and consistencies within [the] written language system and to help student achieve mastery in recognizing, spelling, and defining specific words” (Words Their Way, Bear, et. al, 2012).
Word Study is developmentally appropriate because it takes into consideration what the student understands or does not yet understand about spellings and word meanings to discover where spelling instruction should start. This is accomplished by looking at the student’s misspellings of certain word patterns (from simple words like man to more complex words such as multitude). It is hands-on in that it requires students to analyze, manipulate, and create meaningful and logical generalizations of how word spellings work.
Two important skills for beginning readers and writers are knowing letters and letter sounds. Beginning letter sounds are typically the easiest for young children to recognize or hear. This is evident in their invented spellings. For example, frog may be spelled with just an F. As kids develop in their understanding of letters and sounds, ending sounds usually come next (spelling FG for frog) followed by the middle vowel sound (FOG for frog). Typically, the ability to hear and recognize harder features such as, blends and digraphs, comes next (FROG for frog).
This spelling development, as explained further by Becky Spence in Teaching Kids to Spell, is the foundation for the letter activities found in Alphabet Sounds App. Within each level (1- Beginning Sounds, 2- Ending Sounds, 3- Middle/Vowel Sounds, and 4- Blends and Digraphs) are four activities:
SORT IT! - Players can enjoy shopping, the beach, or taking down the laundry while sorting letters by their sounds based on pictures.
FIND IT! - Players are shown four pictures and asked to find the one picture that has a different sound than the rest.
SPELL IT! - Players move spelling tiles in place to finish the spelling of the words that are pictured.
WRITE IT! - Players trace or write beginning, ending, and middle letters in the early levels of the app. As they progress, players can do the same for blends and digraphs.
Also included in this app is a "fun" section where kids can play with their letters and sounds with BINGO, a matching game, or a slingshot game.
Extra Resources for Alphabet Learning:
Teaching Kids to Spell: A Developmental Approach to Spelling by Becky Spence
Learning the Alphabet - printable ABC packs designed to teach letters and their sounds
Tips for Teaching Letters and Letter Sounds
101 Alphabet Activities and Printables
Alphabet Playdough Mats