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Spelling words - 1st grade, but for anyone to answer!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Can y'all help me out here? I want to compare spelling words. They just recently bumped up from 10 to 20 words per week now. Before now I had thought they were difficult enough for a 1st grader, but after this I am considering a meeting with the teacher. I wrote a note about it today and hopefully will get a response this afternoon.

DD's words for this last week were:


Plus, she also has dictation sentences. It started out as 1 sentence, but now they are up to 3, with this week's being:

Get me one pair of hair bows.
Take care of their fat rat.
The air is thin.

What are your kiddos spelling??
post #2 of 16
Those words seem about right to me. My kindergartener has about 10 words per week to learn and my third grader does 25-30 with 5 dictation sentences. The third grade words are often several syllables (thermometer, nutrition, temptation). I remember first grade as when they graduate from only one syllable to some two syllable words. The list you gave seems as though they are learning the various ways that the "A" sound can be spelled such as "air/hair" and "share" and "their".

You didn't say if your child is having trouble with the work or if you just feel that it is too much. If it seems to be too much for your child (some kids just do not learn well with lists) I would definitely discuss it with the teacher. No teacher wants homework to be torture, but they also don't want to leave kids behind. You could work together to come up with a way to learn the material that is better suited to your child.
post #3 of 16
My daughter is in a French Immersion program, so her spelling words for grade one were considerably easier, and fewer. Your list does look like the one that our local English language school would send home.

One thing that we have found with spelling is that concentration is essential. Once the child has figured out that it is better to write out the list once while paying attention, the spelling practice is very speedy.
post #4 of 16
My son does shorter spelling lists -- like maybe 8 or 10 words, and only AT school. He doesn't bring them home, because his school is not big on homework. The kids apparently quiz each other until they get them right. No formal tests on them or anything. The words that your DD is doing sound about the same level though.

He does a *LOT* of writing too. They are encouraged to write stories about whatever they want during writing time, in a blank notebook. Once in a while the teacher will assign a "theme." The 1st graders are strongly encouraged to use "inventive spelling," which basically means "spell it however it sounds to you." They want the kids to feel free to write their thoughts, without the burden of spelling everything perfectly. I love to see them immersed in their "stories." They really get into it.

The teacher says that next year, for 2nd grade, there will be more emphasis on "conventional spelling" vs. "inventive spelling." They are carefully never to say "right" or "wrong."

All the kids seem pretty darn happy with this whole system. And my ds is learning tons, it seems.
post #5 of 16
mommymushbrain, your daughter's first grade spelling list looks just about right to me. I teach 2nd grade, and the list and dictation expectations for the first grades in my school are similar to what you described. The only difference is that although the kids make lists of up to 20 words per week that fit the week's spelling pattern, they are only asked to choose 9 or 10 to memorize and learn for Friday's test. Much research indicates that kids can't really learn and remember more than 9 words per week.
post #6 of 16
The point is whether or not the level challenges your child sufficiently - but not too much - rather than her grade or age.

Something I often do is ask children to go through the list, working out whihc words they need to actively learn, and which they already know or are purely phonetic. Your dd has a few in ehr list that are simple phonetic cvc words, eg fat, sip, hum, she needn't spent time 'learning' these, she just needs to recognise that they are phonetic.

Then once she's studied the rules that are being covered, eg air, ere, eir, and that 'humble' builds on 'hum' etc etc, there is not so much 'learning' to be done. She could make a shorter list of the ones that she is not so sure of, and actively memorise those.

Personally I think that this sort of process is more valuable than memorising a list. I ask children to think about which words they might get wrong then devise ways to remember - eg saying the lettters to a tune, breaking a word into two chunks, writing it in different colours, etc.

Hope this helps
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 


first of all the teacher basically ignored my note with questions... so i ended up having to call the school after dd got home. i asked her why there were 20 words instead of 10... she told me because 1/2 the class was failing the lists and with more words they'd have a better chance at getting a better grade. (wtf?) so i asked her, if the words are so difficult for 1/2 the class, why not just cut back on the toughness of these words. her lovely response... they would be backpeddeling all that they had learned. wtf? what are they learning if 1/2 the class is failing??

thanks for the suggestions on helping her study. i am going to give it this week to see how dd does do with 20 words... if she still fails, then i will have to go in for a face to face conference.
post #8 of 16
I think it very much depends on the school, the teacher and the students. I taught in our county's school system for several years and, frankly, I hate it. The system is waaay too focused on test results, not on individual student achievement. Our daughter is in 2nd grade at the only elementary school I would consider sending her to. They are far more focused on the child; they don't push children to cram useless, developmentally-inappropriate information into their little brains. They still do the required standardized testing and always come out above the other elementary schools. Maybe because their students still enjoy school and aren't burned out by third grade. I do believe that 20 words--many of which are completely unrelated to each other--are way too many, particularly since the teacher abruptly doubled the previous list. Her reasoning is muddled. Great way to build confidence in little kids who are already failing.

Good luck. If your daughter struggles with those words, I would certainly follow through, first with the teacher, then perhaps with an administrator.

post #9 of 16
I have taught first grade at home and at public school. The link above is very similiar to what we did in ps. I did not start with formal friday spelling tests until second semester and we used 5-10 words. Kids take the practice test thursday, wed and tues are dictation using the words and games in the classroom using the sw, mon is send home the list day and kids copied their list off the board. Sounds like from your second post that the teacher is CHA for accountability sake. What spelling book does your child have?
For my own children at home we use -http://www.avko.org/Freebies/how_to_develop_your_own_sequenti.htm it is much easier, the children retain more, their writing also reflects correct spelling, this is turn helps with reading, especially children who are struggling with the phonics introduced in the second half of a traditional first grade.
Good Luck sorting this out!
mom to ds14, ds9, ds5, dd 3yrs
post #10 of 16
My son did not have spelling at all in 1st grade--they were allowed to spell by ear as mamaduck described. Spelling tests started this year (2nd grade) and consist of 10-12 words per week, with a week to learn them--Friday test.

It seems to be working really well. I can't imagine the stress of spelling tests in 1st grade. To me that seems to be pushing it.
post #11 of 16


by the way, I LOVE your username!

My 1st graders words this week were:

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
They don't use a spelling book, the teacher gets to pick whatever words they learn. To me it seems to be based on memorization, because they are not learning the rules of phonetics. The teacher calls them "sight words", words that are in every day use. I asked DD if she even knew what some words meant, like humble, and she didn't.

Today is her test... I won't know the results til Monday. I gave DD a big hug this morning and wished her well on her test. We studied until she could take no more last night.

DD is used to "inventive spelling" from her old school. (I like that term!!!) But then again, the words they used were easily spelled by sounding them out. To me, it would be different if the words were more correlated... instead of putting homonyms in and really getting these kids confused. That and for the teacher to stop marking words wrong because DD used a capital letter instead of lowercase!!
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 


We got DD's test back Friday... She got an 85%!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG! I am so proud of her!!!!!! She really worked hard for this!!! Thanks for the suggestions on helping her study, I think a lot of those helped. Had she only had 10, that would have been a 70%, so maybe the 20 word thing is good....
post #14 of 16
I teach first grade and I just wanted to share what we do. My grade level starts the year (right away-the second week of school) with 10 words. It's a rotating list of 5 new words each week, 5 old. Then 2nd quarter we have 15 words (5 new a week, 10 old) and now, 3rd quarter, we do 20 words (5 new, 15 old) and also 3 dictation sentences that the students DON'T get in advance- all words in the sentences are from the list, the word wall (they can just find the word and copy if they need to). They get a grade for the test and a grade for the sentences each week. Your list looks fine to me, they must be focusing on a mix of phonics patterns (the -air family) and some high frequency words. Congrats on your daughter getting 85% this week!
post #15 of 16
Oh, and just wanted to add, I've never seen "humble" on a sight word list. Most sight words (also called high frequency and Dolch words) are common words. You might want to ask the teacher where she is getting her list of sight words from, and ask her if she uses the Dolch list, or what.
post #16 of 16

Look right to me

We practice splling with my son everyday. I certainly do not wnat him to spell like I do. We try to invole all kind of memory mechanisms. we have a list posted on the fridge doos (visual), In the car I will speel out all the word one by one (auditory), then i will ask him to spell word out loud (orla) and night before the test I dictate and he writes. I alway use a lot of enrouragment and he like practicing
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