A Fun Spelling Word Game
Focusing on Vowel Sounds

My son still makes frequent spelling mistakes in his writing. This is, however, just a normal stage children go through while learning how to spell. This stage is known as the Transitional Stage.

My son understands that sounds are represented by letter combinations but he is still confusing these different constructions. I have noticed that many of the errors he makes are linked to vowel sounds. For example, spelling 'friends' as 'frends' or 'work' as 'werk'.

I therefore decided to think up a fun spelling word game to help reinforce the correct spelling of the vowel sounds of common words. By making this into a game, I hoped he would be motivated to play along. I was not disappointed.

The objective of this spelling word game is for the child to identify the correct spelling of the vowel sound in the words in order to move forward on the game board.

Before each move, read out a word to your child. If they identify the correct spelling for the vowel sound in the word, they move forward the number of places shown on the dice. If they are wrong, they move back the number of places shown on the dice.

This game worked very well with Snakes and Ladders, or you can download the Spelling Word Game Board which I prepared specifically in A4 or US Letter format.

Spelling Word Game Board

Each time the spelling word game is played you focus on a particular vowel sound and use words which contain the different spelling variations associated with this sound.

So, for example, if you want to practice the /igh/ sound, you would be playing with words which have this sound and use the different spelling variations 'igh' (eg night, bright), 'i' (eg child, kind), 'i-e' (eg like, fine) and 'y' (eg cry, sky). Sometimes words are included which don't use a common spelling variation and these have been put in the oddball category (eg eye).

For each vowel sound I have created an Overview of words grouped by spelling variation as well as printable Word Cards to use in playing the game. You can find out more about how I created these spelling word lists here.

Click on the links below to download and print the Overview and Word Cards for the vowel sound you wish to practice. Note that these groupings are based on English accents and so there may be some differences with regional accents.

  1. /ai/ as in rain. Spelling variations a, a-e, ai, ay.
    Overview /ai/
    Word Cards /ai/
  2. /ee/ as in been. Spelling variations e, ea, ee.
    Overview /ee/
    Word Cards /ee/
  3. /igh/ as in fight. Spelling variations i, i-e, igh, y.
    Overview /igh/
    Word Cards /igh/
  4. /oa/ as in boat. Spelling variations o, o-e, oa, ow.
    Overview /oa/
    Word Cards /oa/
  5. /u/ as in jump. Spelling variations o, u.
    Overview /u/
    Word Cards /u/
  6. /o/ as in from. Spelling variations o, a.
    Overview /o/
    Word Cards /o/
  7. /e/ as in send. Spelling variations a, ai, e, ea.
    Overview /e/
    Word Cards /e/
  8. /or/ as in short. Spelling variations a, or, al, aw, oor, ore, our.
    Overview /or/
    Word Cards /or/
  9. /ar/ as in start. Spelling variations a, ar.
    Overview /ar/
    Word Cards /ar/
  10. /oo/ as in good. Spelling variations oo, oul, u.
    Overview /oo/
    Word Cards /oo/
  11. /oo/ as in moon. Spelling variations oo, o, ou, ew, ue, u-e.
    Overview /oo/
    Word Cards /oo/
  12. /ou/ as in found. Spelling variations ou, ow.
    Overview /ou/
    Word Cards /ou/
  13. /er/ as in were. Spelling variations er, ir, ur, ear, or.
    Overview /er/
    Word Cards /er/
  14. /oi/ as in point. Spelling variations oi, oy.
    Overview /oi/
    Word Cards /oi/
  15. /air/ as in hair. Spelling variations air, are, ear, ere.
    Overview /air/
    Word Cards /air/
  16. /eer/ as in deer. Spelling variations ear, ere, eer, ier.
    Overview /eer/
    Word Cards /eer/
  17. /yoo/ as in few. Spelling variations u-e, ew, u, -ue.
    Overview /yoo/
    Word Cards /yoo/

Keep reading for more detailed instructions for preparing and playing the spelling word game.

Step 1

Print out the word cards for the vowel sound you want to practice using the links above. Cut out the word cards individually. Place the headers (printed in red) to one side and place the words (printed in black) in a container or box. I used an old tissue paper box. Print out the spelling word game board in A4 or in US Letter format or find another suitable board game to use, such as Snakes and Ladders. You will also need a counter for each person playing and a dice.

Spelling Word Lists Game1

Step 2

Write out one of the possible spelling variations (these are listed on the red header cards) onto two Post-It notes. 'Sandwich' a wooden craft stick in between the sticky parts of the Post-It notes to make a mini-banner. Repeat for each of the spelling variations.

Spelling Word Lists Game2

Step 3

Start by asking your child to sort all of the word cards on a table below the appropriate header, laying them out in a column so that you can see all of the words. Those that don't fit into a specific column should be placed under the 'oddball' header. Use the Spelling Word Lists in the section above if necessary to check that your child has placed all of the words in the correct columns.

The purpose of this exercise is to familiarise your child with the different spelling variations for this vowel sound and give them a chance to group all of the words according to their spelling variation.

Spelling Word Lists Game3

Step 4

Now gather up all of the word cards and put them back in the box (leaving the red headers on the table). Pick out one card and read it to your child, without showing them the card. Ask them to wave the mini-banner of the spelling variation which they think is used in this word. Show them the card and discuss whether they were correct. Place the card on the table under the correct header.

Now your child gets to throw the dice. If they chose the correct spelling variation earlier, they move their counter forward on the game board by the number shown on the dice. If they were wrong, they move back by the number shown on the dice. In either case, if they land on a coloured square (or a snake or ladder) they following the instructions before ending their turn.

Step 5

Keep going until the game is finished. If you run out of word cards, gather them all up and put them back in the box and then start going through them again.

Variation: For younger children, you can show them the card and ask them to read it out. If they pronounce it correctly, they get to move forward. Pronounce it wrong and they move back. Or if that is too easy, ask them to use the word correctly in a sentence.

I hope you have fun playing this spelling word game!

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