Some of my children are fantastic spellers. They can run circles around spelling lists with their eyes closed. However, a few of my children do not spell well. In fact, they struggle.
After attending a homeschool convention and hearing Dianne Craft speak in several workshops, I was excited to try a new way to learn spelling words with my children who struggle. It should be mentioned that none of my children have learning disabilities, but I found value in the method and brain training which I though would work for children without learning disabilities as well.
I decided to try the method with all three of my older children as a year-end spelling review. One spells very well, another so-so, and the third child struggles to remember spelling words. My child who spells well, did not want to try this method, but agreed to give it a try. The two other children loved the method from the beginning.
I simply looked over the review week tests from the entire school year, found the words that they had continually misspelled during the review weeks, and used them to try the method. Spelling lists for each child ranged from 6 to 13 words total. This seemed very manageable to try a new method, and we proceeded.
Together the child and I sat down at the white board. I wrote the parts of the word that they had spelled correctly in black marker. The part of the word that the child misspelled or did not include were added with color and picture.
Using the pictures above as an example, one child missed the second 'e' in celery. We decided together to make the 'e' into a face. We added a green tongue and orange mohawk for fun. In the same picture, gerbil needed more 'velcro' as Dianne Craft called it. The child and I devised a picture of a rabbit with 'er' over its body going into grass that has 'bil' within it. Apparently, the picture and color are what help a child to picture the word mentally. I should note here, that my child who spells very well, did not care for pictures, but wanted just colored letters for trouble spots. I agreed to try just color with this child.
Over the next several days, I held the card in the air, forcing the child to look up which apparently activates the right side of the brain, according to the information Dianne Craft had shared. The child then had to say the word, spell it forward and backwards. The child also had to note what the pictures were. For instance, using the celery example, the child said, "celery, black c, black e, black l, red e as a face with a green tongue and orange mohawk, black r, black y." Then the child would say all this backwards.
After about a week, I retested these trouble words, and each child improved greatly. This is definitely a method I will use for those spelling words that regularly give my children trouble.
It has been a learning process for us all, but most importantly it works!
Though I have only partially described the full method, you can read more about left brain and right brain learning at Dianne Craft's website. She has a plethora of information and years of experience to share. I am also considering some of her techniques for increasing photographic memory (of which this spelling technique is one), integrating both sides of the brain, and improving study skills with my children.