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Tips for Tricky Spellings

Learning to spell can be quite tricky at times. The following tips can help by using colour, pattern and rhymes, which are often stronger means of memorising and recalling information than looking at a set of letters alone. 

 Writing out spellings is key – it builds a motor memory too. Also writing them out in short sentences can also help to embed the spelling in the memory. 

brown wooden blocks with number

When checking spellings count the number of correct letters. This boosts self esteem and acknowledges the degree of success at the same time giving a target to beat on the next attempt.


yellow and red ACE signboard

Looking for patterns using words and sound patterns can aid memory and recall.

  •  Spot a word(s) or sound pattern(s) in the focus word.
  •  Highlight or colour each of these in different colours eg: elephant
  • Take a ‘brain photo’ of the word
  • Close your eyes. Can you ‘see’ the word and colours?
  • Now write down what  you saw – use colours again if you like. 
  • How many letters did you get right? Well done!
  • Try these steps again. Focus on the part you missed out on.


brown wooden cross on white surface

Creating a rhyme of phrase of words which start with each letter in your focus word can help recall.

Examples include:

becausebig elephants can add up sums easily

saidSally Anne is dancing

More examples can be found here. Or make up your own they may work better for you!


beige pyramid during daytime photo

Playing with words and building up the focus word can be a more creative way that helps the memory recall it later.                                                                                                                                                        Colours can be used again if you like!




t  o  a

t  s

o  a  t



close up photo of gray metal chain

Make a link between the word and the memory verse.

eg:                                                                                                                                                                          their – it has an ‘i’ because it’s about people who have eyes!

      there / where –  these have here in them because they are about place.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              necessary – one coffee with two sugars  is necessary.

      island – is land


gray assorted-letter jewelries in brown wooden organizer boxes

Put similarly spelt words together – such as ‘home / come/ some‘.

When you can spell one of them you know the others have the same pattern.

You could also put them into a memory image eg: a home to aid the link.

If you really want a challenge try spelling the word backwards after learning it. Don’t forget to say it the right way round again afterwards!

Happy Spelling!  

Please email if you would like more support ideas and help.