How to do Spelling Dictation with your Homeschooler

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Welcome to week one of the virtual curriculum fair! For the next month, some of my homeschool blogger pals will be taking time to talk more about some of the curriculum they use and love. After a couple years of homeschooling, I finally feel like I know what I need and want out of a curriculum, and I am more than a little willing to talk your ear off about our favorites.

Check out this weeks Virtual Curriculum Fair Hosts:
Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Today, the theme of the posts are “playing with words” and for me, that means highlighting the programs we use from The Logic of English. We use almost all the LOE programs in our home. LOE Foundations is the reading program I used to teach my (very busy, very fun, very active) Mr. Man to read, and Essentials is the program I used with Bug for both reading instruction (back in the days before Foundations existed) and now, spelling instruction.

These programs are strongly phonics based, and they use something called Spelling Dictation to teach reading and spelling in the context of spelling rules.

How to do spelling dictation

How to do Spelling Dictation

Dictation is something that I think confuses a lot of people. When you stumble on a program like LOE for the first time, there is a little bit of a learning curve in figuring out how the program works, and how you are supposed to teach it.

Spelling dictation is really the core of the instruction, so you have to learn how to do it before you dig in! Even if you aren’t using LOE products, dictation is something you can start using this week to help your child understand the how and why of English spelling.

In our home, spelling words are always presented in this way:

 1. Say the word aloud, and use it in a sentence.

Make sure your child hears the word correctly, and understands what it means. Sometimes, I will clarify by adding the definition of the word also if it’s a new vocabulary word.

2. Have your child repeat the word, and break it down into syllables.

Your child can clap the syllables out, or tap them on the table. Younger children may need help with this step, and that’s okay. Over time, they will get better at hearing the syllables, and it will become more natural for them. Noting how many syllables in a word is important because some of the spelling rules are dependent on syllable placement.

3. Have your student sound out the word, breaking it down until its smallest sounds.

In this step, your child is sounding out the word. I don’t mean to just say it reallllyyyyy sllllooooowwwlly like my kids are sometimes tempted to do. I mean really take the time to pull that word apart into it’s smallest sounds. Chunk it up!

For example, if the word is “especially” the goal would be for my child to say: “eh” “s” “p” “eh” “sh” “a” “ll” “ee”

4. Write the word down

Then, we’ll pull out the pencils (nothing has been written down yet!) and get that word on paper. Often, we will repeat the syllables, and then the sounds, as we start writing. With younger kids, you’ll need to coach more than with older kids.

For example, with “especially,” the conversation may look like this:

Me: “eh” “What says “eh”

Child: “e!”

Me: “right!”

Me: “s”

Child: “s!”

Me: “p”

Child: “p!”

Me: “eh

Child: “e!”

Me: “s

Child: “s h”?

Me: “no- this one is at the end of a syllable. What else can make the “s” sound?”

Child: “c”?

Me: “This is a tricky one! Let’s try ‘ci’. Remember ‘ci’ is used only at the beginning of a syllable after the first one?” (don’t worry, you’d learn that in Logic of English, and it would all make sense!)

…and so on. While doing dictation, I don’t let my kids write down the wrong spelling. Even if that means I have to say “nope, try this instead.” You want them to write it down correctly from the get go, so dictation really needs done with you right there.

5. Discuss the how and why of the spelling of that particular word

This step is the most fun, and the most important. As with the example above, I am often nudging my kids in the right direction when it comes to what they are going to put on the paper. During this step, I’ll turn to them and I’ll ask them why we chose the letters and phonograms we did to spell this particular word. We’ll discuss the spelling rules that apply, sometimes discuss root words, and really break that bad boy down until we both have a solid understanding of why and how the word is spelled the way it is.

Why it works

This method takes the mystery out of spelling. Your child will remember how to spell the words you dictate because they weren’t just told a letter order, they were told why it goes the way it does. Bug and Mr. Man remember the why more than the spelling itself, and the more words we dictate, the better their spelling is across the  board. Dictation helps students internalize the rules!

Read our Reviews:
How I taught my active child to read with Foundations
Logic of English Essentials Review

Tools to Help You Teach

Spelling Dictation relies on being able to explain why words are spelled the way they are. You don’t have to memorize everything up front- I often times have a reference guide with me when I teach, and am not afraid to Google for answers if I need to. There are some wonderful tools to help you get started:

For in-depth self-study, check out Uncovering the Logic of English.

Logic of English has a Spelling Analysis Card and a Spelling and Grammar Quick Guide which are wonderful for use during lessons.

And, if you don’t want to break down words on your own, use Foundations or Essentials which includes all the details right there to break down the included spelling lists.

Check out the Virtual Curriculum Fair

Co-Hosted by:

Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Stacie @ Super Mommy to the Rescue
Lisa @ Golden Grasses

We are being joined by these lovely bloggers:

Building a Foundation of Words by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Language Arts for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Bible-Based Language Arts Resources by Tauna M @ Proverbial Homemaker

Relaxed Homeschooling: Language Arts in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Loving Books and Words by Sarah@Delivering Grace

5 Language Arts Resources We Love by Becky @ Milo & Oats

Teaching Reading at Home: A Tale of 5 Readers by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

A More Simplistic Approach to 7th Grade Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Language Arts Reading for Delight-Directed Learning by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

How To: Spelling Dictation by Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity

The World of Words in our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Unschooling and Words, Words, Words by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Learning With Literature and Language Arts Resources by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Words and More Words! by Michele @ FamilyFaithandFridays

Language Arts in Our Homeschool (2014 � 2015) by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Our curriculum choices ~ Language Arts by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

The 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Loaded Pistols: Virtual Curriculum Fair Playing with Words by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

A Renewed Focus on Reading Aloud by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Language Arts in our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Logic of English Foundations: The Grand Prize Winner of Phonics by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

A Sentence a Day Teaches Grammar the Fun Way by Amy A @ One Blessed Mamma

Tackling Language Arts by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Middle School Monday – Lightning Literature and Composition by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Great Grammar Discovery by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

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  1. Thank you for sharing this—it’s very helpful. We have also used modeled dictation, where we will study a word, phrase or sentence, talk about how the words are spelled and why, copy it, and then the next day I dictate the selection that we studied (watching as they write the words, to catch any errors or to give reminders).

    Thank you for joining the VCF!

  2. We use a different program, but I am also trying to teach spelling through copywork and dictation. I lean Charlotte Mason, and for some reason, this more natural approach really appealed to me!

    1. I do love how easily it comes- and the kids seem to remember so well when we do it this way. No drilling spelling lists or memorizing just to memorize!

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