These directions describe my approach to teaching these spelling lists to small groups of students (about 5) for 40 minutes Monday-Friday.

1. I have a loose-leaf binder with 10-15 copies of each spelling sheet, with labeled dividers. For example, the first sheet has lists 1-8, so the tab says, "Lists 1-8".

2. The lists proceed backward, from the right-hand edge of the page toward the left, so that when I cut a set of lists, the rest of the pages remain intact in the binder. If I have 5 students I can therefore cut 5 copies of a list, for example, five copies of List 4 (hot sob cot mop got mom hop jog dot log).

3. I then staple a List 4 onto the right hand corner of a sheet of second grade paper, which is horizontal. I fold these sheets so that there is a fold about an inch in from the left edge (for numbering) and then in fourths so there are four columns.

4. Students are asked to write their name on the first set of lines (second grade paper has a center broken line and another line beneath the base line for the "hooks" on the "fishin' letters"-- g, j, p, q, and y). Students then number 1-10 down the side, close to the edge. This allows for a space after the number and before the first word, which is lined up along the second fold. Number ten goes on the back.

5. Students copy each of the ten words four times (hot hot hot hot). They are asked to place each word next to a fold in the paper. This results in four columns.

6. I ask the children to print carefully and along the folds so that they have neat columns. I find they can all learn to do this and then they take great pride in it, which they sorely need, since all of my students are children who have difficulty with reading.

7. I allow all of my students to get a start on their homework at school and sometimes I allow enough time so that one or two (or all) students actually finish the homework. These students get to choose a book and go behind the room divider where there are cozy cushions and throws. This is a great motivator and I find that students who otherwise languish interminably over the first few letters soon are able to complete the whole assignment so that they can get to read a book!. If a child gets frustrated, however, I will write the first word in the first column and the first letter along the fold of the other columns. For some children I may do this for all ten words. Since I sit at the table with them, I sometimes erase work that is below a certain standard and make them redo it, so they know not to just scribble something down. I watch closely tho' so that not much of their work has to be erased.

9. I also watch closely and help them form their letters (so far I have not had a child who could not learn to print well with careful instruction, gentle assistance, and praise for a good job). I also have purchased pencil holders for my students which are a wonderful aid.

9. Some of my students are unable to do homework at first, so we do the entire assignment at school but I have them take it with them to their regular classroom and return it to me the next day, to teach them that skill. They eventually can get the homework completed and returned.

10. There is only one homework given per week, and children have all week to do it. However, children who do their homework on Monday night and bring it back on Tuesday get two tickets. If they do their homework Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday night and bring it back the following day they get only one ticket. On Friday a ticket is drawn for each class and the winner gets to choose one little party favor, which I buy. Even the 5th graders like to do this and are motivated by it. It's amazing how much enjoyment even 5th graders get out of these Groucho noses, plastic rings, etc. And almost all are good sports when they don't win (tho' sometimes I manipulate that a wee bit).

My primary practice activity is very simple, but the children never seem to tire of it..

1. Once or twice during the week I have two children at a time go to the board and race writing the words on their list for the week.

2. I call out a word, and the children race to see who can write it first (first graders sometimes don't know a letter and I may have them race with just a letter, for example, "h"). Students soon realize that they cannot copy from the other child (which some of them have already begun to rely on) and win. The winner gives himself/herself a point above their work area if they win.

3. I decide who won. Each child gets a point for a tie.

4. No one is declared a winner, tho' the winner can certainly mention that he/she won.

5. Children who need more practice get to race more. The other students seem to understand this and don't complain. I often see deliberate losing that is very touching.


1. I suggest that they get someone at home to give them a pre-test at home on Thursday night. Some children do have someone at home to do this, but many of my students don't, so I don't make an issue of it.

2. However, sometimes I give a pre-test on Thurs.

3. Friday I give a test. I help them a lot. I sit with my students at a round table and I can see their papers and how they are doing. I try to arrange it that every child gets at least 90 unless they are behaving badly, in which case I give them whatever they get (they soon realize that I'm going to do this and become engaged--usually bad behavior is a result of despair).

* It is not necessary to stay with one of these lists until the child can spell each word perfectly from memory. If the pattern is learned a schema is being developed, which is the main point.