Spelling – Build It!

Once the foundation of a Biblical emphasis found in the copywork and dictation portions of Joyful Heart Spelling Skills and the rules based approach of focusing on spelling rules are in place, daily practice in applying the rules is necessary in order for spelling skills to increase.

Today, I want to share with you just one simple way this is implemented.


‘Build It!’ is a fun, hands on step used in Joyful Heart Spelling Skills that involves manipulating cut apart letters to form the list words for each rule/skill lesson. Children cut apart the letters from the top portion of their sheet, rearrange the letters inside of the ‘Build It!’ box to form a word constructed from the skill being focused on, and then write the word in the ‘Write It’ section of the chart.

If time allows, you could then use the bottom chart to play Spelling Skills bingo. You call out a word. They find it on their chart, spell it aloud, and then place a small marker on the word. Once a child has 4 corners and the middle or 5 in one column, they call out Spelling Bingo!

An alternative to using the cut apart letters would be to have your child search through magnetic letters to find the same ones as is shown on their sheet. They would then build the word on a magnetic board and write the word on their sheet or on a dry erase board. This would work well for skill lessons in which there are no duplicate letters.


Join me next time as I share another hands-on method for children to practice and grow in their spelling skills!

Joyful Heart Spelling Skills

Spelling – A Rules Based Approach

In describing Joyful Heart Spelling Skills, I like to say it is

A Rules Based Spelling Approach with a Biblical Emphasis.

Yesterday, I shared how the Bible is an integral part of this spelling curriculum and the importance of copywork and dictation.  Children get to practice and review spelling skills within the context of God’s Word.  Herein lies the ‘Biblical Emphasis.’

Today, I want to share what is meant by ‘A Rules Based Spelling Approach.’  Simply, children are presented with the basic rules of spelling.  They develop valuable spelling skills as they learn and apply the rules in a step by step progression.  Joyful Heart Spelling Skills focuses on 73 spelling rules/skills, starting with three letter CVC words (closed vowel sounds) and gradually builds with more difficult skills.   The list words and Bible verses used for copywork/dictation were carefully chosen in order to build upon previous spelling skills.

Take a look at some ways spelling rules are stressed
in the Joyful Heart Spelling Skills lessons…


Skill Cards

Similar to the Bible Verse Study sheet, a Skill Card is also available for each focused spelling rule/skill that is intended to be acquired.  Each Skill Card is ready to print onto regular paper or reduced and printed onto an index card.

skill card


Skill To Drill

After students have been introduced to the new spelling rule/skill, they will be presented with their list of words for the week.  Each Skill to Drill sheet has three sections.
1) say, look, and spell
2) copy and spell
3) cover, write, and spell.
Children will work with one word at a time, completing all three sections for the word before moving to the next word.

Say, Look, Spell
For the first section, children simply say the word aloud, look carefully at the word (with the teacher using questions from the Teacher’s Guide), and then orally spell the word, touching each letter as they do so.

Copy & Spell
During the second section, children carefully copy each letter to form the whole word, spelling the word aloud as they are writing it. The checkmark indicates that they are to check their copying of the word. They should check each letter going between the original word and their own written word. Then, they place a checkmark in the box.

copy and spellskill to drill check

Cover, Write, & Spell
For the third section, children must cover the typed word and their written word, either with their hand or a separate sheet of paper. Then, they attempt to write the word from memory, spelling the word aloud letter by letter as they write. Finally, they check each letter in the word, just as before. If they happen to spell it incorrectly, erase and have them copy the word correctly.

cover and spell


Cut It! – Sort It!

After reviewing the week’s Skill Card, have students cut apart all of the ‘Cut It! Sort It!’ word cards.cut it1 Guide them in looking closely at the each word, looking for similarities and differences. wordsLet them sort the words by the current skill, vowel sound, rhyming words, beginning letter blends, etc.  Stress how the current skill applies to each of the words.  Sorting and categorizing the word cards helps children to pay close attention to details and to recognize spelling patterns.  Suggested ways to sort are listed on each week’s skill lesson Teach Sheet.

sort3  sort4



Sight Words

Where do sight words fit into a ‘rules based spelling approach’?

You’ve probably heard that ‘sight words’ are words that can not be sounded out and are most easily learned by ‘sight’ and by memorizing how to read and spell them.  There are numerous lists of these words.  Two most popular lists are the Dolch Sight Words and Fry’s High Frequency Words.  Many early elementary educators, like myself, call these popcorn words (words that pop up frequently in reading and writing), heart words (words to know by heart), or word wall words (words that are displayed on the classroom wall for easy reference).

As I was researching the best way to teach the spelling of these words, I began to notice that most of the words on these lists actually do follow basic phonics and spelling rules and could fit within a spelling skill list.  So, that is where you will find the sight words in the Joyful Heart Spelling Skills curriculum!  All 220 Dolch Sight Words and the first 300 High Frequency Words are studied during the course of the entire curriculum.  Most of these sight words have been categorized within a spelling skill or rule.   Those that have not been included on a list are introduced through the Bible verses.   Using the Scripture copywork and dictation aspect of Joyful Heart Spelling Skills allows for frequent review of sight words in context as well.

sight words

(Shown above are samples of a Take Home Study Sheet and Teach Sheet
in which the sight words are marked with an asterisk.)

Spelling rules clearly defined on the ‘Skill Cards’, the method of study on the ‘Skill to Drill’ sheets, sorting words and talking about the patterns noticed and rules used in the ‘Cut It! – Sort It!’ activity, and integrating sight words into the focused skill lists help to illustrate how Joyful Heart Spelling Skills is a rules based spelling approach.


Joyful Heart Spelling Skills

Spelling – Bible Copywork and Dictation

Joyful Heart Spelling Skills is unique in that it is a rules based spelling approach with a Biblical emphasis. Incorporating God’s Word with the learning of spelling skills was the foundation of this curriculum.


How does Joyful Heart Spelling Skills integrate Scripture with spelling?

Each spelling skill in the curriculum focuses on a verse or short passage from the Bible.  Verses from God’s Word were carefully chosen so that children would have at least one word that incorporates the current spelling skill, would have a few words that assist in reviewing previous skills, and would not add too many words involving skills not previously taught up to the point of the current skill.

A Bible Verse Study sheet is available for each verse and is ready to print onto regular paper or reduced and printed onto an index card.  Children are encouraged to look up and read the selected verse in their own Bibles, discuss the verse, and memorize it during the duration of the spelling skill being studied.

Each verse is  used for copywork and dictation exercises as well as for searching out any words that contain the focused skill.


What is the significance of copywork and dictation in relation to spelling?

On their ‘words in the Word worksheet’, children are asked to find a word or words in each Bible verse that fits the spelling skill being studied.  During this step, the teacher is drawing the child’s attention to correct spellings and pointing out the spelling rules and patterns in context.  This prepares children for more successful copywork and dictation.

words in the word

During copywork, children are constantly referring to a correctly written model and visualizing the correct spelling of words as they write their own copy of the Scripture.

words in the word copywork

Dictation comes after copywork and a thorough review of the Bible verse.  Children study the verse before having it dictated to them.  This is modeled after the Charlotte Mason method of prepared dictation.  The dictation aspect of Joyful Heart Spelling Skills helps to solidify new spelling skills as well as offer a review of previous spelling rules in context.

dictation dictation2

Children check their own copywork and dictation against the original, using careful observation. They have a correct model to compare to and work toward accuracy.



Finding a word or words in each Bible verse that fits the spelling skill being studied, carefully copying God’s word, and then providing time for dictation of the same Scripture gives children the opportunity to practice what they are learning -not only spelling skills, but also capitalization, spacing, punctuation, grammar, and handwriting.  It gives children the opportunity to practice and use correct spelling within the context of God’s Word.


Joyful Heart Spelling Skills

Joyful Heart Spelling Skills

Okay, Okay!  I can’t contain it any longer!  I am so excited to finally be able to share with all of you something I have been creating for over a year now.   I have been working behind the scenes on a brand new curriculum.  I’ve been praying, researching, testing, revising, getting feedback, and editing.  And… I think it is ready to be shared!



Joyful Heart Spelling Skills!

A Rules Based Spelling Approach with a Biblical Emphasis

Bible and skill cards

Won’t you please go take a peek?!


Then, join me back here over the next few days as we take a closer look at some of the different components included in Joyful Heart Spelling Skills!

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