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Activities on Spelling & Punctuation for Young Children

by Darlene Peer

Several methods exist to teach a child how to read and write. Some school systems use the whole word system while others prefer a phonetic approach or a combination of the two. No matter how your child is learning to write, taking the time to work on her spelling and punctuation with her will help boost her confidence and ability.

How One Word Leads to Recognizing Another

This activity works well with a rhyming story, such as one from Dr. Seuss. Pick one word from early in the story, such as "cat," and write it on the blackboard or an oversized piece of paper. Read the story and show the children an example of how, by changing one letter, the word "cat" can change to "mat." Ask them whether they remember any other examples from the story or whether they can think of any other words that sound like "cat." This will help kids learn to spell by following phonetic patterns in words.

Talking About Sounds

This exercise is especially helpful for kids whose first language is a more phonetic language, such as Spanish. Pick a sound to focus on, like a "K" sound. Read a story or rhyme and ask the child to listen for that sound. Write down the words as you go. You might end up with a list that includes words such as "kite," "back," "car," "school" and "Chris." Underline the letters that make a "K" sound so the child can see that different letters can combine to make the sound.

Organizing Words by Patterns

In this activity, the child focuses on patterns and sounds that are common. This will help her recognize the sounds as she reads and as she tries to spell unfamiliar words. Pick a common spelling pattern, such as the combination of "ea". Read a book or poem and make a list of all the words that have this combination. Make a list. Ask the child to underline the "ea" in each word and say the words out loud. Ask her to group the words by the way they sound. For example, "each," "beat" and "leap" will be on a line together while "great" and "break" are on a separate line.

Punctuation Game

Talk to your child about the role of different types of punctuation. Look for sentences in stories that use exclamation marks, commas and periods to illustrate the difference in use. To play the game, you'll need index cards with a different type of punctuation on each card. Make multiple cards for each type of punctuation. Take turns flipping over the top card. Each player has to make a sentence using the punctuation mark on his card. It can be a simple sentence such as "There is a cat" or "Where is dad?" Each player scores a point for a correct sentence. If you're playing with a younger child, pretend to be stumped every now and then and ask the child whether he can help you.

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