Making Homework Fun: Spelling Bracelets

Feb 26, 2015

Are you familiar with those homework sessions that turn into an all-out war and someone usually ends up crying? Or yelling? Or both? And is that someone usually you?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you're not alone. You are surrounded by parents all over the world that struggle with this very thing. Whilst raising my own six children, I have come to the conclusion that helping them with homework is not my favourite. It's sometimes mind-numbing, sometimes tedious and confusing, and almost always frustrating. I have tried over the years to design a better system for dealing with my homework blues, and the way I've come to handle it is to tailor it to activities my children actually LIKE to do. By doing this, it takes the nagging and bossing out of the equation, and leaves the child with something meaningful and engaging that is almost completely self-directed. 

Recently, one of my kids has been struggling with spelling. For me to have patience with her has been trying, to say the least. I've always loved spelling. I was a Spelling Bee junkie in the '70s—spelling was my jam. For me, it was just simple memorization of the words I had read. Oh, and I get easily annoyed and irritated when people spell words incorrectly. Well, you can imagine how that translated when I'd help my 9-year-old with her spelling. We were going nowhere fast. The tension was palpable and the tears were plenty. It was time for a change of tactics. So here we are: Operation Happy Spelling.

We are currently on Week 2 of Operation Happy Spelling and I'm thrilled to report we are ALL still smiling. There are so many ways to make spelling fun! Who knew? Our most favourite and rewarding spelling activities has been these simple word bracelets.

My daughter makes bracelets for herself with the words from her list that she is struggling with. She wears them on her wrist until she is familiar enough with them to spell them without mistakes. Once she has mastered them, she takes them off, pulls them apart, and makes new ones as needed. So simple. She's a craft nut, so these are right up her alley. She's even been making them for her friends at school. Win.

Here's what you need to make these at home:

  • pipe cleaners
  • spelling words
  • letter beads
  • plain beads

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We used pipe cleaners because they are sturdy and stiff and the beads are easily threaded onto them. Yarn is wiggly, and tends to fray, making it harder for smaller children to thread the beads. The pipe cleaners also twist closed easily, making this a quick and efficient craft that children can do entirely on their own.

Once you have your child's spelling list written out, they can get to work all on their own. Searching for the right letters one by one and matching them with the letters on their word cards is an excellent activity for getting the words to "stick" in their minds.

My daughter is in French Immersion, so we choose words from her French list and her English list. She usually will make three or four at a time.

I can't even begin to tell you how tailoring homework to your child's personality and hobbies will change your life.

Homework time at our house used to be avoided like the plague. Now they don't want to leave the table. If they love to sing, sing the words in a song. If they love art, then make beautiful paintings with the ordinary, boring words on that list. If they love to craft, make these bracelets, form the words with plasticine, or spell them in shaving cream! The point is...make it fun! It really is worth the extra effort to see your child learning at home with a smile on her face.

Article Author Arlee Greenwood
Arlee Greenwood

Read more from Arlee here.

Arlee is an Early Childhood Educator, earning her degree at BYU Idaho. She runs a government accredited care center in her home in Red Deer, AB. She studied with the New York Institute of Photography and she owns her own photography studio. Arlee is a mother of 6, an aspiring yogi, a lover of books, bento box lunches, travel, good food and wine. She’s a blogger in her “spare time” and she will never say no to chocolate. Find her at Small Potatoes, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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