Learn to Spell Puzzles can be used alongside any existing spelling and literacy programme. The puzzles are an enjoyable and practical way to:
- Support students as they move through the key spelling stages (see Guidelines for Teaching Spelling);
- Introduce, practice and consolidate spelling knowledge and strategies which are key to students’ growing spelling competence and confidence as they advance through each stage;
- Provide learning support and extension as appropriate;
- Encourage positive collaboration – two heads are better than one when completing a puzzle;
- Gather formative data (in a stress-free way) to assess the children’s achievement levels and future learning needs;
- Foster student agency, as the puzzle format makes it easy for learners to see if their spelling is right or wrong;
- Improve reference skills and encourage dictionary/thesaurus use (online or in a book), as students become keen to find more challenging answers.
How to Make Learn to Spell Puzzles More Enjoyable and Successful for Learners
First, read through the title, introduction, and instructions for each puzzle to ensure the children know what to do and how to do it.
Introduce the children to the concept covered in the puzzle – give examples and allow students to discuss, and practice this concept – through reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Help them relate the concept to other words they know and find out what words they already know, as these will probably be in the puzzle.
Give younger children practice in writing the words or phonemes using a range of tactile materials, for example, sand, whiteboards, crayons, paints and Plasticine.
Explain that each puzzle may also contain new or more challenging words and that these are intended to help their learning and to extend their vocabulary.
Read through the word banks together – to familiarise students with the concept and content of each puzzle (especially valuable for those who need more support).
Omit or include the word banks to create appropriate levels of difficulty for learners. (These lists are intended to reinforce rules and concepts which can then be applied to new words, so increasing vocabulary).
Provide additional support (if appropriate) by filling in letters or (more challenging) words, to start students off or to support them.
Read through the “How to Complete” sheet with learners, point by point – photocopy this for students to reference if needed. Provide students with any equipment they may need to complete the puzzle (or ensure they know where to access this equipment), for example, pencils, coloured crayons, scissors, glue and so on.
After completion of a puzzle, introduce the children to ‘What’s next?’ which outlines valuable reinforcement and extension activities.
Depending on the children’s abilities they could either choose an activity or complete one as directed by you. (The activities vary in difficulty and should be selected as appropriate.)
The ‘What’s next?’ page could be photocopied and stuck in children’s literacy books to provide a record of the activities completed.