Whether you're a homeschooling parent or simply looking to provide your child with extra spelling practice, consider incorporating a spelling contract into your lesson plans. They're a great way to keep them accountable and on track with their learning objectives.
Defining a Spelling Contract
If you're like many parents, the idea of a spelling contract may seem perplexing. However, spelling contracts can be valuable tools to help motivate children to practice their spelling words. A spelling contract gives your child a sense of independence by letting him or her make decisions about how to study.
Spelling contracts encourage children to commit to a certain amount of study time, but they feature a variety of activities that students can choose to complete. For example:
- A child who loves to write can make up a story with his or her spelling words.
- An artistic child can choose to make a spelling word collage with pictures cut from his or her favorite magazines.
- A child who enjoys solving puzzles may gravitate toward scrambled word games, word searches, or crossword puzzles.
Offering choices in this manner helps reluctant students learn to take responsibility for their academic success. Offer a new spelling contract each month with a mix of repeated and new activities.
Sample Spelling Contract
The downloadable and printable PDF template below can be used as a starting point for your own spelling contract. Many of the fields in the PDF can be edited and customized to suit your needs, including the number of points you'd like to set as the monthly goal.
A couple example activities have been added in each point category; you can replace these with your own, as well as add more activities to complete the list.
Download the PDF document to your computer by clicking on the link below, and then open it using Adobe Reader. For additional help and instructions, refer to this guide for Adobe printables.
Spelling Contract Tips by Grade
Many spelling contracts are designed such that the student must earn a set number of points each month. Some activities are worth more points than others. For instance, you might require a total of 100 points in the month; some activities may be worth five points, whereas others may be worth 10 points. Another way to organize the contract is by requiring students to complete a certain number of activities in each column. You may have one column that's focused on writing, another on reading, and a third with games or skills.
The complexity of the tasks will understandably vary by grade.
- Kindergarten: Offer some activities that focus on core sight words, and others that teach basic phonics. Keep things simple.
- Elementary (Grades 1-3): Introduce a greater variety of word games to retain interest and keep learning fun. Mix up visual tasks, like drawing a scene and writing the words of objects in the scene, with others that focus on spelling concepts like diphthongs and silent letters.
- Intermediate (Grades 4-7): Allow for more creative exercises where the spelling ties into something bigger, like writing poetry or creating crossword puzzles. Writing the script for a TV commercial can be a lot of fun. Challenge students to write increasingly longer words with more complex spelling, as well as learning more about parts of speech.
Online Resources for Spelling Contracts
There are many different educational websites offering spelling contracts, as well as advice about ways to teach spelling and how you can help your child practice his or her spelling words.
- This 5th Grade Contract offers a point system and can be printed out for students to put in their binder.
- Reading Rocket discusses a new way of teaching spelling called Word Study.
- LD Online offers an article with tips on helping students with learning disabilities master new spelling words.
More Spelling Practice
English can be a tricky language at the best of times, since there are exceptions to practically every rule. To help students further improve their spelling, be sure to check out the 100 most often misspelled words in English. Taking some time to build your own spelling word lists based on curriculum is a great idea too.