Years ago, I would cut pictures of CVC words from various sources, paste them on index cards, sort them by vowel sound. Then I would use them as spelling tests for beginning readers. (Now Mrs. A draws the pictures, including those below.) This low-tech approach still works great with beginning readers and spellers.
Why use pictures for the spelling test instead of just dictating the words?
- When the child is in charge of the pile of pictures, she can spell at her own pace, jotting down words she knows quickly and slowing down for words she is unsure of or for words she writes incorrectly and needs to repair.
- Young children are people in motion, so the more parts of their bodies they can use to learn, the better. Taking off the rubber band, shuffling the cards, flipping them into a second pile as they are used and rubber-banding them again are fun. Making learning fun is so important for children of any age, but especially for preschoolers.
- Some children delight in erasing and will write a word incorrectly just so they can erase it. Spelling is a new experience for them, but it can take time, time when a tutor or mother might grow impatient. But since the child is working independently, the process can take as long as the child wants.
- While the child is working independently, I can observe where she might need more help or prepare the next lesson, a better use of my time than dictating.
- ESL students who might be shy about moving at a slow pace gain privacy by controlling the time it takes to complete the test.
One time I gave a preK student a short A test which he finished with pride—his first spelling test! When he found out I had more cards—more tests—he begged me to let him take the cards home and use them for the next week. His mother later told me that he took the spelling tests every day. What an eager learner!