Teaching Spelling in 2nd Grade: Tips & Essential Words

, Staff Writer
Updated December 2, 2020
second grade student spelling practice
    second grade student practicing spelling
    Liam Norris / Cultura / Getty
    Used under Getty Images license

Explore the wonderful world of vocabulary with your 2nd grader by learning how to teach spelling words in 2nd grade. You'll even get fun spelling words to use with your students.

How to Teach Spelling Words: 2nd Grade

Second grade is full of all different types of learners. Therefore, it's important to use visual, auditory and kinesthetic experiences in your teaching methods. So in addition to memorization games, you can try art projects using spelling words and point out spelling words in the real world, like on toys, in books and on packages.

Words 2nd Graders Should Learn

English letters are divided into two categories:

Vowels have several sounds each, as do some consonants. Consider the difference between the "u" in union and fun. When making a spelling list for 2nd grade students, it's important to work in units. Some teachers like to work with long and short sounds, alternating over weeks. For example, you might include five words with a short "u," five with a long "u," five with a hard "t," and five with a short "t." In the next week, be sure to include some words that review those sounds and introduce new ones. As you build on sounds through the year, you can work on consonant blends too.

Number of Words to Learn

The number of spelling words a 2nd grade student learns depends on many factors, but 20 words a week is a good start. This number is pretty standard and the most one little brain can handle. If you try to squeeze in more than 20 words per week, you run the risk of confusing your second grader. Spelling is a quality over quantity situation.

Essential 2nd Grade Spelling Words

It's not always easy to know which spelling words second graders should learn. Since they are still building their vocabulary, you want to focus on important sight words along with words they are going to see in 2nd grade level reading.

Start With Sight Words

The sight words for second-graders are a good start for selecting spelling words. Learn several tips for how to teach sight words in exciting and interactive ways. Make sure to focus on commonly misspelled sight words.

list of commonly misspelled sight words

List commonly misspelled sight words

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Vary Word Length

Spelling words need to make sense to students, so it's important to start with the basics and work your way up. This gives them a good foundation to build from throughout the year.

  • Start with easier vocabulary words at the beginning of the term and throw in harder 2nd grade vocabulary words like on this list.
  • Build your spelling words by incorporating words that build off one another.

Include Transition Words

It's also important to introduce students in the 2nd grade to basic transition words. Introducing these words works to improve their writing about the order of events and stories. It also starts them on the right path to building their writing skills.

Tips to Keep 2nd Grade Students Engaged in Spelling

Now that you have the words at the ready, it's time to get students jazzed about spelling through enjoyable activities. Explore tips and tricks to make sure your 2nd graders get the most out of their spelling curriculum.


Allow Students to Get Creative

It's a known fact that second graders are full of energy. Therefore, you need to make learning spelling words creative through fun activities. Considers incorporating multiple learning styles.

  • Make spelling words on tables using shaving cream or whipped cream.
  • Color and cut out letters and use them to form words.
  • Play fun word games together as a class.
  • Make macaroni art words.

Encourage Repetition

In addition to playing games with the words, encourage second graders to write them out several times while saying them out loud. This can help both visual and auditory word learners. Worksheets, like mazes or word searches, are also great to keep spelling fun but encourage repetition.

letter n fill in the blank quiz

Letter n fill blank quiz

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You can find more of these exciting 2nd grade words that begin with specific letter worksheets for students in the education resources.

Make Words Visual

It's important to make the 2nd grade vocabulary words accessible to students in the classroom. This can also activate passive learning through repetitively seeing the words on display. Consider making this a fun activity by having your students help you decorate the room in spelling words. You can use word coloring pages like the one below to add words to the classroom or have students create word cards and laminate them.

ocean coloring page

Ocean coloring page

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Get Digital

The digital world opens up a multitude of avenues for early spellers through witty games and activities. Websites like spelling city, PBS Kids and Freefall Spelling use fun and exciting digital games to keep learning interesting and interactive. The mix of games with colorful themes, characters they know and gaming make it an enjoyable mix for kids. In addition to interactive games, touch typing also takes a multi-sensory approach.


Use Mnemonic Devices

In addition to helping students remember, mnemonic devices can be fun for 2nd graders to learn. The sillier the mnemonic device, the easier it is for them to remember. So you might choose to create a short little poem for hard to spell words or even create a story. These little memory tricks make memorization amusing.

Teaching 2nd Grade Spelling

If a student asks you why they should learn to spell, tell them that the better they know words, the better ideas they'll have. If that doesn't win them over, tell them knowing how to spell is important for getting to that coveted 3rd grade. Continue your spelling journey through teaching 3rd grade spelling tips.