Free Spelling Activities – for younger children

Free Spelling Activities

All children and adults need to learn to spell correctly.  The trick is to find ways that are effective and enjoyable.  Here are some free spelling activities you might like to try.  Perhaps they will give you ideas for other you could do?

Although I have included games you might already have or want to get, you can also just write out or print out letters and words and cut them up to use,

Start with helping your child familiarise themselves with the words rather than spelling them immediately. Have a little box or a bag to put the words in. don’t do too many at once.  Swap them around after a week or so and return to words another time if you hit a stumbling block. Expect children to need to revise at least some of then at a later date. Include words that are easy for them to learn.

Give lots of positive praise and encouragement.

For instance, tick off the letters they get right in a word. Don’t criticise them if they’ve spelt it wrong.  Find something to praise – You have got four out of five letters right. It won’t take long before you can spell the whole word.  You have got the right blend at the beginning. Well done, you always get the end of this word right.

Play games with these words such as snap or war, matching games or Kim’s game.  Kim’s game would be far too difficult if you had lots of words so why not start off with 3 or 4.  Read through the words with your child. Then take one word away when your child is not looking. Now ask your child to look again and see if they can spot the missing word.  If it is too easy with just three or four words then you can increase the amount so that it is challenging but not too difficult.

Fridge magnets

A bunch of magnetic letters would be useful. We have a Scrabble set on our fridge.  You could have some words of the week.

Plastic letters

Get some plastic letters to play around with.

Pick off 10 letters – how many words can be made with these letters.  Either you or the child should write these words down so that you can keep track of how many you’ve done.  Then put them back and have another go.

You can be sneaky and take out the letters that make some of the children spellings.  e.g if one of the spellings was house you might take out    o u s e h m l b . Then the words might include: be, he, she, house, mouse, louse, and blouse (Decide for yourself whether you would want to include blouse as that doesn’t sound quite the same as house.)


There is a similar game called Boggle, which children who are a bit older might enjoy but it is a bit confusing having to just look at the blog Boggle grid.  If this is too difficult for your children you could use the Boggle set to find the letters, but then match them with individual letters that you can move around and make words out of.


Why not use an ordinary Scrabble set but make up some of your own rules.  For instance, your child might help themselves to seven letters. If they can’t see a word then they could take another letter. and maybe one or two more.  Then, if they can make a word but not one that joins what is already on the board then perhaps they can put their word in a new place. The rules might be different for yourself.  So you can only have seven letters at the time. You can only use words that your child already knows. You can only put your word down if it connects with a word already on the board.  If not you miss a turn.

Scoring –  again let’s keep this simple  unless your child is ready for something more sophisticated.  Each letter is worth one point. Your child gets one point for each tile that they put down and also for each tile in the word that they connect with.  You, on the other hand, only get a point for each tile you put down.

There is also a game called Junior Scrabble and again you might decide whether you use the usual rules for that or you might want to make up your own ones.


This is a similar game to Scrabble but you just get a banana shaped bag with a whole load of letters in.  Your child could just grab any number of letters and then make words from them.

Create Word Search from your spelling list.

This will have been done in many classrooms and many homes.  Simply create a grid for the letters. Allow your child to write the words into the grid, write them down underneath as well so that they know which words have been used and then fill in all the gaps with random letters.  If you have a photocopier at home you might want to take a copy of it. Then either you could have a go at solving it or another member of the family might want to have a go at solving it or put it to one side and the child can then have a go at solving it themselves on another day. If you’ve taken a few copies then perhaps it can be returned to at various times so these words can be revised at later dates.

Use nice materials to make the whole thing more interesting.

You can have stickers, nice coloured pens, stamps, coloured paper. and envelopes available for your child to use.

Put labels around your home

Fridge, cooker, my toys, books, painting, lego, my friends (a photo), Uncle David (another photo), cat, basket, bag, chair, table, knife, fork, spoon and so on.  Get your child to help you think of labels. Just do a few. You don’t have to do everything at once.

Put affirmations up

I am great at maths.  I like to smile. I am a good friend.  I love my dog. I clean my room. I clean my teeth twice a day.

I was brave when I went to the dentist  – uses 3 words children often find difficult.

Put other phrases up

Change them around

Include words that cause a problem.

If the word “went” needs working on maybe “Last year we went to the seaside.”

What – “What a lovely day it is today!”

When – “When we visit Grandma, she also makes a lovely dinner.”

Saw – “I saw an elephant at the zoo.”

Create mnemonics

Went – We eat nice toast

Because – Because elephants can always use some envelopes.

Spot words within words

When is my hen going to lay an egg?

What are you doing with my hat?

Where is my ball?  Here it is. And there is my bat.

Some activities I found on other websites

An outdoor grid

Draw a grid of letters on your drive/garden/the beach – anywhere you can find and your child can spell out words.

This is a super idea from the Deceptively Educational blog.  The post includes a suggested set of rules to make a game of it.

Spelling grid from

If you haven’t got any or much outdoor space then this blogger did something similar with tape indoors

Outdoor Crossword Puzzle

If you have plenty of space to draw outside with chalk then you might also like this idea.   It’s quite a bit of work though.

Dot stickers

Write out the letters of a word on stickers and then your child can work out the order of them

Letters on stickers from:



I hope you liked these ideas.  Let me know if you tried any of them out and how they worked.

I would love to hear any other ideas.  Please use the comments area below to tell me what you think.

7 thoughts on “Free Spelling Activities – for younger children”

  1. Wow!!! This is great article I enjoyed every bit of it and it helped refresh my memory. Is there a video format and how can I get it. I think my nephew will love it, he is a bright kid and I think it will help him a lot in building a strong mind

  2. Wow — you have come up with some excellent ideas for teaching spelling.  I was going to suggest the letters on the fridge, but you beat me to it. Are you a teacher?  If so, I’ll bet you are a darn good one.  These games are good for adults, too, as many of them need spelling help.  I used to play “big boggle” with a friend.  Word games are fun.

  3. Great ideas! 

    One of the best methods my wife and I use to coach our children is by singing simple songs and repeating names to them.This way a child can learn quickly and assimilate the common names. 

    This article is packed with lots of goodies and helpful information and I’ve just bookmarked it for future reference. Just a question for you, are these tips applicable to mentally challenged children with special needs? 

    I will share this information with my family and friends.


    1. Hi Paul,

      Great idea!

      I think you could try these activities with mentally challenged children with special needs and see if they enjoy them.  If they do they are probably appropriate.  Children are all very different in abilities and with their own likes and dislikes.  What works for one child won’t necessarily work for another.  There’s no need to stress.  That’s just the way it is.  Keep looking out for activities that they enjoy and use those.

      All the best


  4. Julia,

    The idea of teaching our children to spell, read or write effectively can never be understated. Some of the ideas and techniques you provide in your site look useful, I can’t wait to try some of them out with our son. I think he is a little behind on some learning issues. He is my 5th, with my second wife.

    I used some similar games with my first 3 children, but I wasn’t consistent with certain aspects. We played games, used flash cards or rewards systems, and appraise. They seem to turn out OK in the end. 

    Do you think, if we had been more consistent with simple learning tools, they would have excelled even more?

    My mother never learn to read or write English, native Thai born, she was always working to provide for my sister and I. So she never did anything of that nature, games, tutoring or helping with school work. She couldn’t. I was a good speller and student in grade school and mostly through my college years.

    My questions is, do you think it’s possible if we help to much it could be a crutch for our children’s learning will power and they will not try as hard? Is that possible you think?

    In my case, my mother always needed me to read things for her and I always believed going to school was a necessity for our family, so therefore; I wanted to do my part and learn as much as I could. 

    Now my newest addition, I have been spoiling him so much that he just wants to watch his IPAD, he seems bright, loves to organize things, matches objects well, but doesn’t seem as willing as my older children to want to learn, he gets frustrated when it doesn’t happen the way he plans. He’s almost 2 and still have spoken real words yet, and all my other children had full sentences down around that age. Could this be because of what I was talking about, making things easy for a child and they don’t try as hard?

    What’s your opinion?



    1. Hi Noke,

      My experience is mainly with school-age children, so what I say here is just my opinion.

      I think children are all very individual and develop at different rates.

      People often say that second children take longer to learn to speak properly because the older child anticipates their needs.  There may be something in this.

      I love ipads and other devices and think they are useful for younger children, but I also want children to have lots of other experiences as well.  These should include various toys, indoor and outdoor play, play and interaction with adults and other children, and visiting places – shops, libraries – where they can look at books and even choose some to take home for you to read with them, parks, farms, whatever you have around you. 

      It looks like you gave about the right amount of help and attention to your other children.  Enough to help and encourage them and not too much to put them off.

      What I liked about lots of these ideas were that they were fun, so making learning fun is the way I would want to go.

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