Memories flash back to me standing alongside my peers in Elementary School. My fingers are crossed behind my back, standing stiff as a board. Hoping and wishing for an easy word. I didn’t want to be the first one to sit down if I spelled it wrong. The exercise is called our “spelling practice” to prove how well we’ve been studying… the result is pure anxiety torture!
I promised myself I would never do a spelling activity like that in my classroom! I want students to feel comfortable and able to express that they don’t know something and not feel shamed by it. How will I address this goal and promise of mine? Why hands-on spelling activities of course!
Below you will find 25 Hands-On Spelling Activities that you can use with ANY spelling list. Either 10 words, 12 words, 15, or even 20! The number doesn’t matter and the materials needed for most of these activities are found in almost every classroom! Numbers 15, 17, and 19 are my favorite off of this list!! I cannot wait to hear what yours will be…
Build your spelling words with pattern blocks. My students love to look off of their paper to create their words with pattern blocks. Once they create their words they go in and color in the blocks how they built it.
2 ~ Stamp and Spell
All you need for this activity are some letter stampers. Feel free to switch this activity up a bit using different mediums. You could use ink pads to stamp your words onto paper. Next time you bring out the stampers feel free to use play-dough instead.
To make this a cross-curricular activity and make your own play-dough in the classroom! Here is a recipe for you to use and feel free to adapt it by adding glitter or a few drops of your favorite essential oils!
Besides stamping in the play dough, you can create letters and words manipulating the dough itself. My Type A personality really shines through making sure that each student has their own playdough cans… because MIXED COLORS are a BIG NO-NO for me!
4 ~ Clothespins
Have any extra clothespins lying around? Write some letters on them with a marker. Students can work individually or in small groups to spell a word using the pins. A great fine motor activity from OT Toolbox and SugarAunts to have them pinch the pin open to clasp onto a board or paper spelling the correct word.
Wow! Another great fine motor activity here! You can use a few different materials for this activity. Using alphabet beads you could string your word. Also, if beads are not readily available for you to use, the string is drawn for you, have your students use letter tiles, letter magnets, letter anything!
6 ~ Egg Hunt Mix Up
Who Doesn’t love an egg hunt?!? I like to cut up spelling words and include the letters inside an egg. Hide the eggs throughout the classroom and when it is the group’s turn, they must find all of the eggs and spell the words correctly using the tiles inside. Hey… you don’t even need to do this around Easter time either. No judgment here!
My students love and often request this particular activity. Using a pencil and a paper clip the children use the spinner to decide what words to write below. Once they spin the paper clip holding it in place with their pencil, it will land on a number. Whatever number they land on is the word they write in a box below.
8 ~ “Graffiti Wall”
Depending on the weather outside, sometimes we conduct this activity outside or quietly in the hallway. I use a large piece of bulletin board paper that I tape or pin to the wall. Next, I provide each student a different spelling word. In their best “graffiti” style they would write, color, and provide their own artistic take to their design. After we all stand back and take a look at our spelling list, noting and spelling each word individually.
I had the opportunity to write a different blog post on 13 Fun Ways to Get Reluctant Writers Writing. So many of these activities and materials fit well within spelling. #1 and #11 are my favorites to do in the classroom! Who doesn’t love writing in shaving cream?!?
10 ~ Lego “Build A Word”
This activity has a similar setup to the clothespin activity. To start, This Reading Mama suggests writing letters on individual lego blocks. Students could work individually or in small groups to connect their blocks to spell the word correctly. You can differentiate this activity to have each letter in the word on the same color block or mixed up.
Students are able to type their words on the keyboard or tablet before writing them in the box or speech bubble.
12 ~ Hopscotch Grid
Here is another activity to do either inside or outside. Outside, you can draw a large hopscotch board. Inside I usually write the words on pieces of paper and organize them in a way to resemble a hopscotch board. Students can toss a bean bag or a crumbled piece of paper to a word. Hopping to the word using the board, the student must spell the word that their object landed on before hopping back.
13 ~ Flashlight Spelling
I love (and so do my students) our “Flashlight Friday” moments. We use our flashlights to read in the dark and now I found another activity to use for all my flashlights! Students can begin by tracing the words with their flashlights first. Then they can go to a blank space and “write” their words on the wall.
14 ~ Spelling Memory Game
Played as a typical memory game, where students have to flip over two cards at a time until they receive a match. However, this time it is with their spelling words. I like to have my students create their own cards for extra practice writing their words. They write them in two blocks and then cut out their cards to play in pairs.
15 ~ Spelling Relay Races
One of many on this list that is in my “favorites” category! The students enjoy this game because it is played in two teams. In a bucket, at the end of a table, all the letter tiles are placed. One person at a time from each team must run to the end of the table and grab ONE letter tile. Once they run back and place the tile on the table, the next student goes to grab the next tile or letter in the word. The team continues until the entire word is spelled.
Students are able to learn a little bit about sign language with this awesome resource! This activity introduces students to ASL and the alphabet. By spelling their spelling words they are able to sign each letter as they go. Once they finished the word, they are able to check off the box before moving on. This activity could easily be individual, pairs, small group or whole group!
17 ~ Spelling Go-Fish
Remember those cards that I had my students make back in #14’s Memory Game? Well, I have another use for them! Spelling Go-Fish! Another student favorite! Students have a select number of cards in their hands (e.g. 5). Played as a typical game of “Go-Fish”, students ask their partner if they have a spelling word that they have in their hand. I have them say the word, spell it, then say it again in the question. “Do you have sure?” “S-U-R-E” “Sure?”. The partner replies either “Yes/No”, “I do/do not have sure, s-u-r-e, sure”. If they don’t have the card the student needs to pick from the pile of other spelling words. The game continues until all matches are collected.
18 ~ Jump & Spell
A great spring activity! While outside write all the letters of the alphabet in chalk. Provide a student a word and they must jump from letter to letter spelling the word.
I absolutely love to incorporate movement breaks throughout the school day. Not only for myself, but for my students as well. For this activity have your students write the spelling word in the box and when they are completed, they should try the pose for each word.
20 ~ Dot Paint
Using a Q-tip or a Bingo dabber, students can “write” or “paint” their spelling words. To start, students may have to trace the word letter by letter using the Q-tip or dabber. After some practice, students should be able to “write” the word without the visual prompt.
21 ~ Lego Activity
I am pulling out the legos again from #10! This time instead of spelling block by block, the students need to be a bit more creative! As Creative Family Fun shows, on a flat piece of a lego board, students must use blocks to spell the word on the flat. The thin lego pieces work the best for this activity.
22 ~ Spelling Exercises
Think of a Gross-Motor “Simon Says” Game! Just include your spelling list and some basic exercises! Have students spell their words while working out. “Jumping Jacks to spell C-H-A-M-P” or “Squats to “P-L-A-N-T”. This activity also pairs well with Education to the Core’s Spelling Bee Center Resource.
23 ~ Body Letters
Make the letters of each word with your body as you spell the word aloud.
Students are able to write their words in each of the boxes. Next, color all the vowels red and consonants blue. As an extension activity students can re-create their words using red and blue unifix-connect cubes. Have them pass it to a friend to see if they can guess which word they spelled just by looking at the pattern. This is also a great teaching tool to show how blends and digraphs are going to be two blue blocks together. If there two reds together – a vowel team. Blue, red, blue, red…probably in most cases, going to be a long vowel silent e.
Placing the spelling words throughout the room. Students can take their clipboards and recording sheet to walk around the room recording the words they find.
I hope you found some great ideas in these 25 Hands-On Spelling Activities for Any Word List! How do you get your students up and moving? Can you incorporate spelling into that activity? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Please don’t be shy when it comes to adding your strategies and fun spelling activities! Also, let us know if you tried some of these activities and how they went!
Written by: Christopher Olson
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