Spelling and Vocabulary Development

How To Support Your Children's Spelling and Vocabulary Development

The ability to understand the meanings of words, select appropriate words and spell them serves as a very useful tool to support children’s writing and reading.

Spelling and Vocabulary Development

Your home literacy centre could include the following to assist in the development of your children’s vocabulary and spelling:

  • access to a wide range of books to read (either their own or loans from a school or local library) provides a source for learning ‘story language’ and ‘information language’ for children and the type of vocabulary contained in both types of books
  • a dictionary from which children can obtain the meanings of words
  • a thesaurus from which children can make the most appropriate selection of a word from words that have a similar meaning
  • an exercise book or folder containing word lists or personal dictionary to which words are added as children wish to use them – this could include a list of what are termed “high frequency” words. These are the most common words that children will encounter in their reading and use in their writing. There are many variations of high frequency word lists based on literacy research and these are available on various websites through entering the words “high frequency words” into a search engine on your computer.

eg http://www.highfrequencywords.org/first-100-high-frequency-word-lists.html





  • a notepad to be used as a ‘have-a-go’ pad where children can write several attempts at spelling a word before consulting a sibling or parent or dictionary
  • blank playing cards, on which children can write (using a large texta pen) one word per card from the words they know or want to learn to spell – these can then be used as flashcards or in spelling and word matching games
  • purchase and play with your children commercial games that encourage working with letters and words eg Scrabble, Boggle, Memory, Pictionary, Go Fish and a variety of other card games with pictures and words printed on them
  • commercial or homemade word charts – these could include personal favourite words, high frequency words, lists of theme words, spelling rules
  • books of crosswords, find-a-word or word search activities, word puzzle activities
  • make time to play spelling games with your children. You can make sets of word cards by purchasing blank playing cards and writing a word on each card with a large texta. Each card should be able to be linked with at least one other card eg start or end with the same letter, mean the same, rhyme, contain the same sound or letter pattern etc

-          Word Snap

Word snap involves matching words that are connected in some way.

  • prepare a set of word cards and divide them evenly among the players.
  • each player takes it in turn to place a card face up on a pile in the centre of the table
  • if a card matches the previously placed card in any way then a player can call out ‘Snap!’ but much be able to justify the connection between the cards eg they start with the same letter, they have the same ending, the words rhyme etc
  • the first player to say ‘Snap!’ and provide the connection between the words takes all the cards from the centre pile
  • at the end of the game the player with the most cards wins.

-          Word Memory

Word Memory also involves being able to justify the link made between pairs of cards.

  • prepare a set of word cards (about 16 or 20) and place them all face down individually on the table
  • the first player turns over two word cards. If the player can create a link between the two words (eg they start with the same letter, they have the same ending, the words rhyme etc) then he/she keeps that pair, then takes a second and possibly subsequent turn until no match is possible. The game proceeds as each player takes a turn similarly
  • at the end of the game the person with the most pairs of cards wins

-          ‘Rummy’ or Word Pairs

  • prepare a set of word cards
  • five cards are dealt to each player and the rest of the pack is placed face down with the top card turned face up beside it
  • the first player takes the upturned card or the top card from the pack that is facing down and turns the next card on the pack face up. Then the player attempts to create pairs of cards on which the words are related to each other in some way – they might begin with the same letter, rhyme with each other, have the same ending, have the same meaning etc. These pairs are set aside, then the player puts one of his/her cards face down beside the pack on the table
  • the game continues with each player taking a turn similarly
  • the player with the most pairs of cards containing connected words at the end of the game wins

View our Guide for Parents to help you increase your learners' literacy skills.

Learning to Love Literacy -  A Practcial Guide for Parents


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Shirley Fuller PSM

Shirley Fuller is passionate about improving the learning outcomes of students from preschool to Year 12 and beyond. Her experience includes secondary mathematics, science and physical education teaching, primary teaching in all subjects, librarianship and resource centre coordination, tutoring students in mathematics at secondary level and in preparation for some university courses.

She holds a Public Service Medal for her contributions to education.

Shirley has written a comprehensive Guide for Parents to help support children’s literacy in the home and social environment.

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