This year for Language Arts (reading, spelling, writing, and poetry), we are using The Good and the Beautiful curriculum. One thing that is encouraged via The Good and the Beautiful is a Spelling Practice Box.
So, let me take you on a tour through our homeschool’s Spelling Practice Box and all of its manipulatives.
The box in which I have all of the spelling manipulatives organized is the famous Latchmate by Recollections box in turquoise (my favorite color!). These boxes are available on Amazon, but I got them for far less at Michael’s. I also bought matching square divider trays (on Amazon or Michael’s) and the rectangular divider trays (via Amazon or Michael’s). The idea behind each manipulative is that each of my three kiddos can grab one at a time, independent of the box, and take it back to their desk to use it.
Here’s what the top tray looks like. I’ll go over each individual item in a moment.
And here’s how the main compartment is organized. Everything fits neatly, not overly crowded, and each item is very easy to grab and go.
Probably the most important item in our spelling box are the spelling words! I bought this set of flash cards and each week I write their words on them and put them on one of the included rings. Spelling words they have already mastered get a star sticker then put away in a separate location to be reviewed later on.
Ink stamps! I removed all of the non-spelling related stamps (like punctuation, etc.) that the kids don’t need right now and left only the letters (though things like the apostrophe might return later). These stamps and the ink pad are made by Melissa and Doug on Amazon. They came in a nice, sturdy wooden box, but it was too bulky for our Spelling Practice Box so I moved them into one of the rectangular compartments instead.
Our family is ALL about LEGOS. So LEGOS simply HAD to be incorporated in our Spelling Practice Box. Technically, they are an off-brand, but they still work the same. These letter bricks are made by Strictly Briks and I bought them on Amazon. I also removed all of the non-relevant (for the moment) bricks such as punctuation. And I swapped the 10″ by 10″ base plate that came with the set with a smaller base plate that we already had in our LEGO collection so that it was small enough to fit in the box. The top and bottom edges of each brick is slanted so they are super easy to remove.
I happened to find this small, rather inexpensive felt letter board on Amazon (though it appears to have gone up about $10 in price since I purchased it–gasp!). It is so cute and such fun to use! Like the other two items, non-relevant pieces were removed (including some of the emojis because there was too many and I knew they’d just want to play with those). This board had a hanger and an easel on the back which I removed so it would lay flat and be less bulky in the box (just used a small Phillips head screwdriver to remove them).
Another item is the beads. I opted for the black and white ones versus the colorful because the box really has enough color. Then, instead of string, I chose a strip of pipe cleaner to put the beads on because it’s easier to use and a bit less messy than string (since the beads might fall off the other end of the string).
This is technically a magnetic game called Word Spin (travel edition). But, rather than use it as a game at the moment (though I know we will also use it as a game at some point), we use it for spelling practice.
Another item that is a big hit in our family are WikkiStix (or Bendaroos or Monkey String). These are basically wax-covered strings that bend and can stick together.
Yet another beloved thing around here is Play-Doh. Play-Doh has this cutter set available on Amazon or at Walmart. The cutters would drive me nuts if I used them for cookies or fondant, but since it comes with an orange plastic “knife” thingy, the kids don’t mind “prying” out the fresh cut play dough letter shapes from cutters.
This thing is neat. It was one of the lesser expensive manipulatives. It’s a flipbook with which you can create words up to 6 letters long.
My kids are big fans of this boogie board. You write on it with the included stylus then press the trash button and voila, whatever you write disappears. The specific one I ordered came with a bonus stylus, an extra battery, and a way to write in and receive a second one for free (which I accomplished, but the second one hasn’t yet arrived).
Above are Scrabble-like tiles that came in a banana-shaped bag called Bananagrams. My kids will either just lay tiles out like pictured or they’ll play a solo Scrabble-ish game with them.
Since we’re also doing Math-U-See this year for our math curriculum, I decided to carry over a concept from that to help them learn the spelling words while hitting all the learning styles. I printed off the Say It, Build It, Write It sheet (free printable below) onto cardstock and slipped it into a reusable dry erase sleeve. These sleeves are stored in the kids’ desks as are the dry erase markers they use with them.
Here’s a picture of my middle son putting parts of the Spelling Practice Box into use. He has the word he is practicing on the flash card under the “Say It” section, the spelling manipulative by the “Build It” section (some of the manipulatives overflow out of this area, hence its strategic location in the corner so the manipulative can overflow without problem). And he is writing the word in the “Write It” section. To erase, I bought some microfiber face pads from the Dollar Tree (that’s the blue circular thing pictured).
How We Use It
Here’s how we use this spelling box.
- I put the Say It, Built It, Write It sleeve in one of my son’s workboxes (more on this coming soon).
- When he reaches that workbox, he gets SUPER excited and grabs the spelling box.
- Each of my kids (even my daughter who’s too little for school just yet) grab ONE spelling manipulative from the box. They’re each allowed only one a day to prevent them from getting bored with them (hopefully).
- Each kid takes their manipulative of choice and their spelling flashcards to their desk and uses it with the Say It, Build It, Write It technique.
- I time the spelling practice session for 10 to 15 minutes. If I don’t time it, they seriously play forever (especially if the Alpha Briks are involved).
- Once done, the child neatly puts the manipulative away.
To make your own Say It, Build It, Write It sheet for your Spelling Practice Box, save the following free printable (PDF format) to your computer, print it onto a sheet of cardstock (check the print preview so make sure it will print out correctly; tweak your printer’s setting as necessary), then insert it in a reusable dry erase pocket.