Among the key skills your Senior Infant will be introduced to during their Primary School education is spelling. The ‘spelling and word study’ strand of the Primary Language Curriculum aims to develop children’s ability to recognise, name and sound letters, improve their spelling of high-interest and high-frequency words, and encourage the use of sound-letter patterns when attempting approximate spellings.
At the Senior Infants level, spelling development focuses on furthering the phonological knowledge children acquired during Junior Infants in order to spell words more accurately. Activity books are an ideal resource for helping children practise their writing and spelling through creative and engaging learning experiences, and monitor their progress as they move through Primary School.
In this guide, we will discuss how you can assist your Senior Infant child with their spelling at home, and introduce some excellent activity books for supporting their progress.
Supporting your Senior Infant with their spelling
Phonics will be the foundation of your child’s spelling and writing development as they progress through Primary School. From Junior to Senior Infants, they will start to understand how words can be broken down into phonemes (units of sound), and how different phonemes are associated with different graphemes (printed symbols that represent sounds).
By understanding the phonetic units of a word, they will have a clearer idea of how it is spelt. Regular practice of breaking down the words attached to things your child encounters in their everyday life (around the home, in the supermarket, out on walks in the park) into phonemes and graphemes will help them translate this knowledge into print during writing exercises. As your child advances to the Senior Infants level, you can start to practice spelling simple words in the context of sentences. This will be beneficial to their overall literacy skills as well as their understanding of word and sentence structure.
It is also important for children at this age to learn that making mistakes is a natural and normal part of the learning process so is absolutely acceptable. Encourage your child to try spelling a word even if they think they might get it wrong, then go over what they have written to check for errors before trying again. With resources such as the Jolly Dictionary, this should improve their confidence in attempting trickier words and demonstrate that learning is an ongoing process.
There are many words and word families in the English language that are difficult to spell, especially when graphemes can be represented by multiple sounds (such as ‘ch’ in ‘school’, ‘chart’ and ‘chef’).
With these trickier words, help your child identify the part of the word they are struggling with and over-pronounce the phonemes. This type of exaggerated dictation exercise will make it easier for your child to identify the letter sounds in the word they are trying to spell, and they are more likely to remember it when they next attempt to write it.
Finding the right spelling activity book for your child
Activity books can provide a great way to aid your child’s development in spelling. Whilst the books your child uses in the classroom will largely be determined by their school and the curriculum, there are a few factors you can bear in mind when choosing activity books for home learning.
Firstly, look for books that include the teaching of initial, medial and final word sounds (for example, ‘car’ breaks down into initial ‘c’, medial ‘a’ and final ‘r’). This is a useful strategy for delivering phonics and spelling instruction as it makes deconstructing the sounds and letters of a word much simpler and clearer for young learners to getting to grips with language and literacy.
You will also want to choose books that contain a range of creative activities to keep your child engaged and motivated to learn. Tests are also beneficial in these resources as a way of assessing your child’s progress and recognising key milestones in their writing and spelling development.
Phonics activity books
This book can be used alongside an existing phonics programme, and it contains a range of structured activities and games to help boost children’s understanding of phonics through individual and group work.
This highly practical book uses a multi-sensory approach to the understanding of letter sounds, involving specific actions and alliteration phrases to accompany letter sounds, encouraging more practical and engaged learning.
This colourful book includes a revision of topics covered in Junior Infants to refresh learning, as well as carefully graded and repeated exercises to promote evaluation and development. It also includes eight pages of stickers.
This book is focused on spelling and language development, helping children progress their writing and vocabulary through engagement with phonemes, graphemes and strategies for spelling and grammar.
Pupil Book 2 follows on from Pupil Book 1 for Junior Infants as part of the Jolly Phonics programme covering key literacy skills for reading and writing. Book 2 builds on the skills developed in Book 1 by introducing trickier words, basic sentence structure and alternative spellings for letter sounds.
Spelling activity books
Spellbound focuses on initial, medial and final word sounds, using colour highlights, word sorting and a range of activities to support the learning of different spellings covered throughout.
This series from Senior Infants to Sixth Class features a structured, multi-sensory approach to spelling, using the Look, Say, Shape, Cover, Write, Check strategy to encourage pupils’ development.
Spelling Made Fun is a multi-sensory spelling programme designed and reviewed by Irish teachers for Irish Primary Schools. Its use of fun activities such as phonics and spelling games, colouring and drawing as well as self-evaluation sheets and a tricky word bank for recording spelling challenges, provides a comprehensive approach to teaching high-frequency words, CVC words and word families.
This full-colour workbook is focused specifically on spelling strategies for Senior Infants, using an active multi-sensory approach to spelling, taught through a new unit every two weeks over the school year. The aim is to improve pupils’ understanding of their personal learning styles and develop visual memory.
This dictionary is a perfect resource to help teach children how to look up and understand words they are unfamiliar with as part of their phonics and grammar studies. The dictionary is colour coded into four sections, making words more accessible to young children.
This comprehensive joined cursive handwriting programme is a great resource to help encourage neater, more legible handwriting that groups letters based on formation. It introduces the cursive style and helps increase speed, fluency and spelling accuracy.