Anticipatory Set Ideas For Spelling Homework

Brief Description

Spice up your weekly spelling-list study with these five fun spelling activities.


Students will
  • follow directions to complete activities that help them learn their weekly spelling words.


Spelling, game, activity

Materials Needed

  • paper
  • pencil
  • newspaper

Lesson Plan

This lesson offers five quick and fun spelling review activities.

Looking for more fun activities? See Spice Up Your Spelling Lessons. Click the Earn Spelling Points lesson for more than 20 additional spelling activity ideas!

Activity 1: Alpha-Time Spelling
Provide each student with 10 slips of paper (one slip for each spelling word of the week). Have students practice writing their spelling words, one word per slip. Then instruct students to turn over the slips. Give students 15 seconds to slide around the slips on their desks until the slips are all mixed up. At your signal, students turn over the slips and arrange them in alphabetical order. When they finish alphabetizing the words, students stand by their desks. (That way, they are not able to move the slips if they spot an error.) Keep track of the order in which students stand up. When all students are standing, check the work of the first student who stood up. If the order is correct, that person is the winner.

You might repeat this activity several times. Students should finish more quickly each time. This activity also is good for recycling scrap copy paper; cut slips out of those spare copies you will never use.

Activity 2: Spelling Concentration
This activity is based on the TV game show Concentration. It can take many forms, depending on the grade level you teach. Following are some ideas:

  • You might prepare a game sheet in advance. Divide the sheet into 20 squares and write each spelling word in two squares. Have students cut the squares, turn them over so the blank side of the paper is facing up, and mix up the squares to create a game board. Invite students to play the game in pairs, taking turns turning over two squares. If the squares match, the student keeps the squares and takes another turn. If the two squares do not match, the opponent tries to make a match. At the end of the game -- when all matches are made or when time runs out -- the student with the most matches is the winner.

  • The game squares also could be used to present the week's spelling words with vowels missing; a line or square appears in place of each vowel. After a student makes a match, he or she must supply the correct missing vowel to keep the squares. If a student misspells the word, the opponent gets the squares and the next turn.

  • Students might make their own game squares. One square might have the word on it; its matching square has the word's definition. Students match each spelling word to its definition.

  • Students might create game cards for homework, writing the word on one card and a sentence with that word in it on the matching card. (Or they might write a sentence with a blank space in place of the word.) Students match each word card with the correct sentence card.

  • If you're teaching dictionary skills, you might prepare a sheet with word cards and matching cards with the dictionary spellings of those words. Students match each word with the correct dictionary spelling card.

Activity 3: Back-to-Back Spelling
Students work in pairs. One member of each pair uses a finger to spell the week's words on the partner's back. The partner must think about the letters being formed, identify the word spelled, and then spell the word aloud.

Activity 4: Elimination Spelling
Arrange the class into teams. (Each row of five students might make a team.) Instruct students to write the 26 letters of the alphabet along the top of a sheet of paper. At the same time, select one of the week's spelling words; write that word on a card or a sheet of paper, then turn over the card/paper. When all students are ready, they take turns asking Is there an [fill in a letter of the alphabet] in the word? (for example, Is there a p in the word?) If the teachers responds Yes, there is a p in the word, students circle the letter. If the answer is no, students put an X through the letter. Students can raise their hands at any time they would like to guess the "secret word." If they are correct, they earn a point for their team; if they are incorrect, their team loses a point.

After students have done this activity as a class, you might let each team run its own game. One student on each team plays the role of game leader; choosing the secret word and responding to questions from other students. In this game, students earn or lose points for themselves instead of for the team.

Activity 5: Cut-and-Paste Spelling
Provide each student with a page from the local newspaper. Have them cut out letters from headlines, advertisements, and text, and glue those letters to a sheet of paper to spell each of the week's spelling words. If all students do this activity at the same time, which student completes the assignment first? This assignment also makes a nice spelling homework assignment.


Students will achieve scores of 90 percent or better on their weekly spelling assessment.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

Find more great spelling activity ideas in Education World's Spelling Activity Archive.

Click to return to this week's spelling activity lesson plans, Spotlight on Spelling.

Originally published 05/23/2003
Last updated 023/21/2008

Teaching kids to spell in fifteen minutes a day is possible – seriously!

Spelling doesn't have to be a struggle… although I struggled to find the right approach for a few years. I was surprised to learn how many atrocious spellers arrived in my 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, and none of the standard programs were getting the necessary results.

What you see here is a an overview of the final process. It works for grades 3 to 6 and it has been very successful in my classroom.

Best of all from a teacher's perspective: once you get flowing with these spelling lesson plans, they are quick, easy and they extend kids' spelling pattern knowledge to other content areas.

You can buy this spelling program – ready to use – from my store.

What about the kids? They love it! They get to partner with another student and it's fun. Let's review the day-by-day spelling lesson plans.

Start with your local word lists

Each of these steps will have to be based on your own state's or districts spelling word lists. These lists commonly include groups of words broken down into rules or patterns. If you have such a list, that's all you need to apply this approach.

Well, also some prep work!


1. Introduce the spelling rule or pattern of the week.

Write it on the whiteboard or present it using an interactive whiteboard lesson. An example:

  • Words that contain the long “a” sound: a – ai – ay

2. As a class, brainstorm as many words as you can that match the pattern(s).

Each student who proposes a word must state why it matches the pattern:

“Rain is an ai word because it's spelled r-a-i-n.”

Write the words on the board as they come up with them, or have them write them on their own lap sized whiteboards if you have them.

3. Hand out the spelling word lists.

This single piece of paper (one piece for each set of partners) is the key to the rest of the week's spelling lesson plans. You will have to write the words of the week on a grid such as this. If you set up something in Word or Excel, it will be easy to fill in each week. After a full year, you'll be set for next year… assuming you don't change grade levels!

4. Partners go to work.

  • They each copy all words twice onto a single piece of notebook paper. You must go around the classroom checking every paper to be sure they are copying correctly – don't let them practice wrong! You'll learn quickly who must be checked.
  • Each must verbally use every word in a proper and meaningful sentence.
  • They cut up the cards on the lines (each student does half the sheet).
  • They bundle the cards with a rubber band or place the cards in a Ziploc bag; they place the bag in the spelling-word bucket (the bundles of words become community property).
  • They each place their paper with the written words into their “work-in-progress” folder in their desk.


First, partners sort cards by the rule(s) of the week. Take a look at this video for an explanation of this important part of teaching spelling. (Sorry for my shaky camera skills!)

Student Spelling Partners


  • Each partner copies all words in their categories onto a new piece of notebook paper.
  • They re-bundle, bag and bucket the word cards.
  • Papers go into the work-in-progress folders.

Wednesday and Thursday

On Wednesday, partners sort words into alphabetical order. Alphabetizing is a very important skill.

  • They copy the words onto their papers, put the papers into their individual work-in-progress folders, then re-bundle, bag and bucket the word cards.

On Thursday, partners sort words by parts of speech – whichever ones they have been taught so far. We usually start with noun, verb and other. Eventually you can add additional parts of speech.

  • Copy words, papers into folders, re-bundle, etc.

Teach spelling in 15 minutes a day… Seriously!

Just use my easy day-by-day process and word lists, partner up your kids and follow the plan. It's a big relief from complex spelling lessons!

Give it a look… Year-Long Word Sort Spelling Program.

Friday: spelling test time!

Spelling lesson plans are finalized on the Friday spelling test, which includes application of the patterns of the week to non-list words.

After the Monday through Thursday spelling lesson plans, The Friday spelling test is another quick activity and an efficient assessment of whether your students have internalized the spelling patterns of the week.

To assess our students, we need to know:

  • If they have learned the spelling word lists given on Monday
  • If they can extend the spelling patterns (or rules) to non-list words

(All spelling test forms and sample sentences are part of my year-long spelling lesson plan.)

1. Students get their papers ready.

  • “Hot-dog fold” (fold in half vertically) then flatten back out, which forms a middle-of-the-page reference line.
  • Numbers 1-10 on the left, 11-20 on the fold, space at bottom for the sentence.

Like this:

2. Say each word, use it in a sentence, then say it again.

  • Students write down the words, 1 through 20.

3. Give them a sentence that uses non-list words that fit the spelling pattern(s).

This ensures that they must extend their thinking by applying the spelling patterns to words they have not been practicing all week. Use grade-level core words as well as words from the list of 150 most common words.

TIP: You can find common-word lists online.

For example:

Pattern: long i sound – i-consonent-e, y, igh, ey, uy

Sentence: “We might try to fly at night.”

4. Read all the words over again while students double-check their work.

  • Train them to place a check mark by each word as they confirm its spelling. Say the sentence again and have them confirm and place a check mark by it.

TIP: The habit of placing a check mark by answers when confirming them pays huge dividends for testing in general. It creates a culture of careful attention to the details of a response and helps kids thoughtfully put forth their best thinking in all subjects.

5. They gather all four papers from their Monday through Thursday work.

  • They place the test on top, staple the papers together and turn them in.

Yes, I trust kids to staple! They have to learn that skill somewhere, don't they? Set stapler expectations:

“Top left corner only, one staple.”

My stapler is by my assignment in-box. (And yes, of course there are episodes of stapler abuse!)

Teaching spelling takes a little prep up front… mainly getting the words onto the sheets to be cut into cards. After that – and after a couple weeks of this routine – your spelling program will run smoothly.

We're done with the week-long process. There's more to spelling test success, though! Kids must learn that good spelling isn't just a spelling lesson activity if you want to see improvement in all of their writing. Be sure to check out how to practice spelling words.

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