Spelling Word Lists

, Staff Writer
Updated August 30, 2019
Child and mother working on spelling list
    Child and mother working on spelling list
    MoMo Productions / Stone / Getty

Children often come home from school with spelling word lists lamenting the fact they must learn these seemingly arbitrary words by the end of the week. But spelling is an important skill for the understanding of language conventions and structures.

Spelling List Resources

The International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English consider spelling important enough that it is included in the 12 Standards meant to guide educators. To help educators and parents, we have spelling word lists and activities for students of all ages.


Creation of Spelling Lists

Learn the different ways to create a spelling word list:

Based on Reading Materials

A large number of spelling word lists are created based upon current reading materials or literature. Words important to the comprehension of reading material are used as spelling words in middle and upper elementary classrooms, while lower elementary lists often consist of everyday words or simpler words used in beginner readers.

Based on Spelling Rules

Spelling lists are also generated from commonly known spelling rules. These rules, such as "i before e except after c," follow a logical pattern. The rules, patterns, and exceptions are all used within the same word list to reinforce the concept. Creating a spelling list using suffixes or prefixes is another example of a pattern-based list.


Based on Personal Use

Word lists may be generated by the students' writing itself. As a teacher notices commonly misspelled words, he or she takes note and either adds currently misspelled words to an existing list or creates a new spelling lesson.

Spelling word lists are generated from other subjects, such as science, sociology, philosophy, or health. The integration of subjects enhances both educational areas, as students are immersed in the topic at hand.

Based on Curriculum

Spelling word lists can come from a program or curriculum. Spelling books and workbooks or web-based spelling programs are used to help teach students grade-level appropriate spelling words. Each program has its own set of criteria upon which words are chosen for lessons. Educators evaluate the program before adding it to the current curriculum.


Spelling Word List Practice

Learning spelling words can be difficult for students who have trouble memorizing rules. Spelling games, activities, and printable worksheets help reinforce the words. Writing out the words multiple times also helps students memorize difficult words.

Comprehension of rules may be more difficult for parents to teach students at home, so speak with a teacher or tutor to figure out the best way to help your child. If you wish to purchase a tutorial program for your home computer, get recommendations from your child's teacher to find one that meets the specific learning needs of your child.