Free Spelling Warm-Ups for Grades 3-6
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Spelling 1 Tutorial #2

Spelling Word Study Activities for Grades 3-6

Tips for the Open Sort in Spelling 1

If you’re working on Spelling 1, your students will find a challenging thinking task on day 5. It’s their first true open sort in the word study unit.

Here are some tips to help your students find success as they struggle through this word study task. And it’s a task that will really help them apply spelling principles in new situations.


Word Study Warmups with Spelling Sorts


The Challenge in this Open Sort

Open sorts are challenging for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. They require students to use multiple concepts and skills at the same time:

  • Decode and analyze word patterns
  • Determine common patterns among words
  • Contrast parts of words (spelling patterns, morphological parts, semantics)

The word sort in day 5 of Spelling 1 is a true open sort because students have to discover the pattern on their own. Plus, they are timed.

A Timed Word Sort

A timed sort adds the fluency dimension. It’s not enough to have knowledge of words. Students need automaticity in their word knowledge.

Time is the dimension whereby automaticity is measured (read more on word sorts and automaticity here). In other words, they need to know it well. And timed practice will get them there.

It’s for these reasons that Fluency 1 focuses on building decoding speed and accuracy. And it quickly scaffolds students to higher levels of difficulty.

Spelling 1 takes it a step further than Fluency 1. Spelling 1 builds encoding speed and accuracy.


Decoding fluency is a necessary prerequisite for spelling fluency. #elachat #wordstudyClick To Tweet


Tips for a Successful Day 5, Spelling 1

Two tips will help students have a successful 5th day in Spelling 1. This spiral review day takes the spelling principles from days 1-4 and extends them.

Students should struggle on the open sort. Follow these two tips to ensure students get the most from their struggles.

Setup the T-Chart

Have your students set up the sorting table (T-Chart) before the warm-up begins. It only needs to fit 6 words. That means it only needs to be four rows tall. Also, let them know they will need to figure out the patterns for the columns.

Scaffold Discovery of the Pattern

Second, remind them the columns could be consonant blends, consonant digraphs, or short vowels. During the word sort activity, the 60-second timer will begin. Most students will assume the pattern is consonant digraphs (that’s what day 4 was about).

  • Monitor students as they attempt to complete the sort.
  • Younger students might struggle to even begin writing.
  • After 15 seconds, pause the video and tell them to look at the vowels.
  • They will find the spelling pattern in the vowel sounds.

The sort is actually a short /a/ in one column and a short /i/ in the other column.


Word Study Warmups with Spelling Sorts


After the struggle on this warm-up, students will be keen to look for patterns. They will not want to be “tricked” or “stumped” like they were on day 5.

This sort will really prompt them to begin thinking outside the box. Which is, after all, the goal of word study…applying spelling principles in a variety of situations.


Applying spelling principles in a range of situations is the aim of word study. #elachat #wordstudyClick To Tweet


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