Spell Out Strategy for High Frequency Words

Many of you have seen me demonstrate this strategy, but many have not and some of our members asked if I would post it. The spell out strategy is used for new high frequency/sight words, or old high frequency/sight words that a student is still having trouble with.  Only practice up to 5 words at a time, so the child can achieve mastery before going to new words.  The most important pieces to this strategy are: repetition, attaching the spelling to the word, and context in a simple sentence.  I will use the sight words “there” and “have” as examples.

Say:  The word is there.  What’s the word?

Say:  My dog is over there by the tree.

Say:  Spell there.  (point to each letter as the student spells)

Say:  Write there in the air.  (the student may also write it on the table with his/her finger, but avoid writing it with a pencil or white board marker because the student may be distracted by the letter formation)

Say:  What word did you just write?


Say:  The word is have.  What’s the word?

Say:  I have a red bike.

Say:  Spell have. (point to each letter)

Say:  Write have in the air.

Say:  What word did you just write?


In this strategy, you give the child the word first so that there is no guessing.  Then the word is repeated either by you or the child many times.  The spelling part is not to make better spellers, but to give them something to associate with the word, which is that specific arrangement of letters.  Throughout the strategy students are hearing, seeing, saying, spelling, and “writing” which uses their kinesthetic sense.

About Experience Corps Bay Area

Experience Corps Bay Area recruits and trains adults 50+ to tutor and mentor elementary school children, with a focus on K-3 literacy.
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