• Why Word Study? 

    Although English has a highly complex spelling system, it is far more regular than it appears on the surface.  One reason it appears to be irregular is that the pronunciation of particular letters and letter combinations often vary.  For example, notice the sound of the underlined letter in each of the following words: game, fudge, rough, resign and pillow, pilot, combination, special.  At first glance, teaching children to read and spell words with such letter-sound variations may seem like a nearly impossible task.  Indeed, if word learning is approached in a word-by-word manner, it may be.  However, more is involved in learning words than just memory.  Rather than being based on a simple one-letter equals one-sound organization, our spelling system reflects the interplay of sound, pattern, and meaning relationships.  As Henderson reflected: “Those who set out to remember every letter of every word will never make it.  Those who try to spell by sound alone will be defeated.  Those who learn how to ‘walk through’ words with sensible expectations, noting sound, pattern, and meaning relationships, will know what to remember, and they will learn to spell English” (1990).  In word study, students are taught to explore the sound, pattern and meaning relationships among words through various compare and contrast strategies known as word sorts.  By examining words encountered in their reading and used in their writing, children discover consistencies that enable them to generalize their understandings to other words and, thereby, learn to read and spell more efficiently.

    Word Journeys, p. 2-3.



    Students in this stage rely on their knowledge of the names of alphabet letters and the

    way sounds feel in the mouth when they spell.  They typically approach words one sound

    at a time.  Important features at this stage are initial and final consonants, initial digraphs

    (th,wh,sh,ch,ph) and blends (bl,st.etc.), short vowels, and final blends.  The most

    difficult final blends are those that contain nasal sounds, such as in lamp and stand.

    Mastery of these final blends usually signals readiness for the next stage.  An important

    concept to be developed in this stage is the CVC pattern for short vowels.  Students learn

    that this pattern applies to words with more than one consonant at the beginning or end.

    Therefore, words such as sat, chat, brat, and stand all have the CVC pattern and contain

    short vowels.  The sequence of sorts for this stage is: 

      • Beginning Consonants
      • Beginning Digraphs and Blends
      • Short Vowels
      • Final Blends


      Students in this developmental spelling stage have mastered short vowel sounds and have begun “using but confusing” long vowel patterns.  They will continue their word study of single-syllable words focusing on the long vowel patterns of one vowel at a time.  The word sorts often include comparisons of short and long vowel patterns so there is still an opportunity to reinforce the CVD pattern previously learned and add new ones such as CVCe  and CVVC.   R-controlled vowels with both short and long vowel patterns are also studied.  Toward the end of this stage students explore some complex consonant patterns such as three-letter blends (scream, square), soft and hard c and g, and final spellings such as tch (catch) and dge (badge).  Finally, students sort words with abstract vowel patterns (those that are neither long nor short) such as ou, ow, oi, oy, au, aw, al and oo (couch, plow, coin, boy, haunt, crawl, salt, tooth, book).  The sequence of sorts for this stage is: 

      • Long vowels with CVCe pattern (lake, pipe, rope, etc.)
      • R-Controlled Vowels
      • Other Common Long Vowel Patterns (ai, ay: igh, ee, ea, etc.)
      • Complex Consonants
      • Abstract Vowels 


    Students in this stage are ready to explore multi-syllabic words.  One of the important

    issues at the beginning of this stage is consonant doubling.  When does it occur and what

    does it mean?  Word sorts focus first on adding endings (-ed, -ing) to base words to notice whether the final consonant is doubled, the e is dropped, or there is not change (hopped, hoped, creaked, drifted).  Then, students look carefully at the doubling concept within two-syllable words (spatter, pilot) and how it is related to the decoding problem of deciding whether the first syllable of a word has a long or short vowel.  Accent or stress

    patterns are explored next, beginning with a look at long and short vowel patterns, then,r-controlled vowel patterns, and finally, abstract vowel patterns in the stressed syllable.

    Students become aware that stressed syllables are often easier to spell than unstressed

    syllables in which the vowel sound is reduced to a schwa sound.  That leads to an

    exploration the vowel patterns in unstressed syllables.  Toward the end of the syllable

    juncture stage students sort words with common prefixes and suffixes.  The typical

    sequence of sorts for this stage is:

    • Doubling and E-drop with ED and ING
    • Other Syllable Juncture Doubling
    • Long and Short Vowel Patterns in the Stressed Syllable
    • R-Controlled Vowel Patterns in the Stressed Syllable
    • Abstract Vowels in the Stressed Syllable
    • Unstressed Syllable Vowel Patterns
    • Simple Prefixes and Suffixes

     Dear Families:

    Students have different strengths and interests as learners and benefit from lots of different ways to learn to spell.  Here is a list of some different ways for you to practice your child's spelling words with him/her at home.  Please choose AT LEAST 5 WAYS to practice at home in order to be ready for a spelling test on Friday.  If your child picks an activity that involves writing, please have him/her show the work in the spelling notebook.  If your child chooses an activity that does not require writing it please mark the activity in his/her book with the date and your signature.  


    Mr.  Rosenberg’s  WAYS TO STUDY SPELLING

    • Take an oral practice test
    • Take a written practice test
    • Create a PowerPoint presentation with your spelling words
    • Make flash cards and practice with a friend
    • Use clay or play dough to make letters to spell out your words
    • Write your words on a chalkboard or with sidewalk chalk
    • Write your spelling words in alphabetical (ABC) order
    • Use magnet letters to spell your words
    • Write a story -- Try to use all of this week’s spelling words
    • Create a rhythm and rap your words out loud (record yourself doing this)
    • Create a song with your spelling words, sing it out loud over and over
    • Make up rhymes using your words.
    • Type or draw your words on the computer
    • Smooth out shaving cream, sand, coffee, or flour to spell the words
    • Write your words using rainbow colors
    • Dribble a ball, jump rope or some other kind of exercise while spelling your words
    • Write your spelling words five time each
    • Tape record yourself spelling your words and then listen to yourself
    •  Make a movie of your spelling words.
    • Use pieces of yarn to form each of the letters of your spelling words
    • Make a crossword puzzle or word search puzzle with your words at www.discoverykids.com then solve it
    • Fingerspell your words to an adult (Write on the back of someone or in the air)
    • Make up your own way and share it with your teacher to add to the list.