“Nanny Ogg knew how to start spelling ‘banana’, but didn’t know how you stopped.”
When teaching the key stage 2 statutory spelling lists, it’s difficult to know where to begin. They appear to follow no pattern in terms of their spelling features. Often the solution is to divide them up into smaller lists and test them weekly. Many children then spell them correctly on the Friday spelling test but a few weeks later those same spellings are being misspelled, and little was learned.
The key to good spelling is to understand that words consist of strings of speech-sounds clustered into syllables, and each of those sounds is represented by a spelling. Some of those spellings are more common, and some less so. For example, the word ‘mention’ contains 6 speech sounds (/m/ /e/ /n/ /sh/ /uh/ /n/) clustered into 2 syllables (men | tion) of 3 sounds each. This can be represented with vertical syllable separators and horizontal speech-sound buttons as follows:
m e n | ti o n
Now, this blog isn’t a ‘how-to-teach spelling’ blog. It’s a blog providing you with a free resource (you can find it linked at the bottom of this blog post) that breaks down every lower key stage 2 statutory spelling as outlined above. It contains almost 1400 slides which builds up each word in steps by identifying the number of syllables, then building up each syllable in turn. Hopefully, you’ll find it useful.
Each word has an introductory slide (see image below). Above, in larger print, is the word as it is spelled. Below, in smaller print, is the word represented phonetically as it is pronounced in natural speech (see note on pronunciation above). The stressed syllable is underlined in pink, and the elision is marked in grey.
This slide is then followed by a sequence of slides that builds the words, first by dividing it into syllables and then by capturing the spellings of each syllable in turn.
Please read the notes on using the PowerPoint below before downloading and using.
Representing Speech Sounds
On pages 6 and 7 of the PowerPoint you will find the the phonetic code I have used to represent speech sounds in print. These may or may not be representations used by your school’s phonics programme.
Composite Speech Sounds
Several speech sounds are composites of two speech sounds but are commonly taught as a single sound. I have used the following composite speech sounds.
/kw/ (/k/ + /w/) as in quick
/ks/ (/k/ + /s/) as in box
/gz/ (/g/ + /z/) as in exam
/ul/ (/uh/ + /l/) as in apple
/th/ (/t/ + /th/) as in eighth
/yoo/ (/y/ + /oo/) as in few
/yoor/ (/y/ + /oor/) as in cure
Please check with your phonics programme. It may not teach the same list of composite sounds.
A Note on ‘th’
Underlining has been used to distinguish between the following three speech-sounds.
/th/ (unvoiced) as in thing
/th/ (voiced) as in that
/th/ (/t/+/th/) as in eighth
Pronunciation varies between individuals and regions. The pronunciation used throughout the PowerPoint has been chosen using two criteria:
- natural speech: wherever possible, particularly for schwas (the /uh/ sound in along)
When teaching spelling, however, over-enunciation using a ‘spelling voice’ is an effective technique as it allows for a closer match between speech-sounds and spellings.
- localisation: I have used the pronunciation used in the schools with which I most commonly work in the East Midlands. For example, there is rarely a distinction between the vowel sound in ‘bus’ and ‘look’ so I have not distinguished between them in the PowerPoint. If you are teaching elsewhere, these may be two different speech sounds.
You might wish to alter some of the speech-sound representations to match your local accent.
Elision is the omission of a sound or syllable in speech. Where sounds are typically elided, I have opted to over-enunciate using a ‘spelling voice’ to better represent every spelling with a sound.
The word ‘interest’, for example, is frequently pronounced with two syllables:
i n t | r e s t
This, however, leaves the first ‘e’ unaccounted for, so to capture the elided sound, it has been represented as follows
i n t | uh | r e s t
Where sounds are elided, they have been identified as grey, in this case the /uh/ sound (or schwa) represented by the spelling ‘e’.
I have ignored the complex rules on syllable division and have split syllables in a way that, at least to my ear, sounds most natural, so ca|len|dar rather than cal|end|ar. There are often several ways to split the syllables in a word, so you or your children might split them differently to the examples provided.
Where sounds have been elided, I have split syllables so that the whole syllable is elided so int|e|rest rather than the more natural in|te|rest. The former more clearly shows that the second syllable is elided and that the word is often pronounced with two rather than three syllables.
At times, I have opted to preserve morphology at the expense of more natural divisions, so dis|a|ppear and not the more natural di|sa|ppear to preserve the prefix ‘dis-‘. I have only preserved morphology where I feel children ought to understand the morphemes in lower key stage 2. For example. there seems little benefit in preserving the root ‘port’ (meaning to carry) in ‘im|por|tant’.
I have used the Sassoon Infant font throughout the PowerPoint. To ensure that spellings and sound buttons align correctly, you should have this font installed.
All feedback is useful. If you found the PowerPoint helpful, do let me know in the comments below, so I can decide whether to make an upper key stage two version. And with almost 1400 slides, I’ll be amazed if I haven’t made an error or two somewhere, so please point any mistakes so I can correct them.
To download the file from Dropbox, click on the PowerPoint icon below.