How To Make Spelling Easy And Fun

Different vowels often combine together to make similar sounds, and this can be tricky and challenging to spell. But it can also be fun if your child can learn a simple trick – say the word aloud, pay attention to the sound of the word, and look at word groups.

When two vowels combine together to form one sound, it is called a digraph. Here is a fun way to help your child understand and spell the long “e” sound.

The Long “E” Diagraph: Formed by “ee”, “ea” and “”i.e. Combinations

The long “E” sound is normally formed by “ee”, as in SEEN, “ea,” as in MEAN, or ” i.e., as in THIEF., We will work with “ee” and “ea” combinations now, as the ” i.e., a digraph is a little more complex and, “i.e., words are longer.

For the exercise, make two sets of five cards each, with words from the first two vowel combinations. Make each set visually different, so the cards can act as visual cues and memory aids to help your child remember.

Start with the “ee” combination; SEEN, KEEN, KEEP, WEEP, MEET. Notice that the words kind of lead one into another, with a replacement of one sound or with an additional sound. This will help your child understand how the sounds are made and make them more interesting.

For the “ea” combination, you could use MEAN, LEAN, MEAT, HEAT, BEAD. Notice how only some consonant endings take the long “e” sound. For now, avoid similarly spelled words that take the short “e” sound, like HEAD.

Keep a couple of blank cards handy in each set, so you can add any new words your kid identifies in the course of the exercise. In one card, which you keep separate, write out the word THIEF.

Begin the exercise with a Smiling “ee” Sound

Begin the exercise by stretching your mouth into a wide smile, making the long “ee” sound. Talk about smileys! Ask your child to do the same, and then ask him or her to try and spell the sound. Lead her into spotting the “e” and show how the long sound is actually a second additional sound. Explain those vowels like company and often work together with another vowel.

Encourage her to play around with the long “ee” sound. Once she is familiar with the sound, show her the “ee” cards one by one, saying the word aloud and spelling it with her. Act the words out together, or chant them. Make sure she makes the sound of the “ee” again and again. Then, ask her to tell you a couple of words that are spelled similarly. If she is hesitant, give her clues, make a game of it and let her guess the word. Make her write one or two words on the blank cards and add them to the stack.

Move on to “ea” Words

After a while, pick up the card with MEET, and ask her if she can think of another word that sounds the same but has a different meaning. If she doesn’t come up with MEAT, lead her into it with hints. Then explain how “e” also often (but not always) works with “a” to make the long “e” sound. Play around with the “ea” cards.

If she brings up words like HEAD, which take the short “e” sound, explain that some words are different, and lead her with hints to a long “e” word. Fill up a couple of cards with words of your child’s choice.

Once you’re done with the “ee” and the “ea” words, show your child the card with THIEF. Explain that ” i.e., also makes the long “e” sound. Ask him or her to think of other words that also make the same sound. Examples you could give would be FIELD, SHIELD. Do not get into spelling the “i.e., words.

Wrap Up with Mime

End the session with a quick mime of how “E” makes the long “e” sound; by working with another “e” to make “ee”, with an “a” to make “ea”, and with an “i” to make “i.e.. Repeat the game a couple of times using different word sets with the same “ee” and “ea” sounds. Then when your child is comfortable with the long “e,” it’s time for other vowel combinations like the long “a” sound, the long “o” digraph, and the long “i” sound.