Word Boxes

This activity, Word Boxes, helps the child to notice the shapes of letters making a word. Word Box is useful for children struggling with spelling because the shapes of letters help them to remember the position of letters in a word. This activity would appeal to visual learners. Children may be asked to draw word boxes while learning spelling.

Drawing word boxes do help children with spelling.

Struggling spellers often insert a vowel between the blends- bl-, gr- ,-nd, -st etc. They also have confusion about placing of the vowels. Drawing word boxes may be a good remedial activity for overcoming the problem of reversals. Struggling spellers may reverse letters in a word. Examples: gril for girl, wolrd for world.

This is a good activity for children with dysgraphia- poor handwriting. Lack of awareness of the sizes and shapes of letters is one of the reasons for poor handwriting. Word Boxes can help children to write better. They can learn from the patterns of words.

This activity uses sight words.

What are sight words? Sight words are the set of words that are most frequently used. Mastering how to read and write these words and how to use them are essential for students to speed up learning. They should be thorough with these words so that they can read and write automatically without any effort. However, some children find it difficult to handle these basic words. Special training is required to help them learn the spelling of these words.

Examples of sight words are: am, you, was, her, she.

List of sight words can be downloaded from the internet. The two lists commonly used are Dolch Sight Words and Fry Words.

Edward William Dolch, after extensive research, compiled a list of 220 words which are frequently used. According to Dolch, these words represent over fifty percent of what children read and they should recognize them immediately by sight.

Edward B Fry expanded the list of Dolch words. Fry found that that 25 words make up one- third (33%) of books for children. The list of 300 words compiled by him covers 65% of texts written for children. Fry went on to prepare a list of 1000 words which are most commonly found in the text books of children. It is estimated that these 1000 words make up 90% of what are found in books. The 1000 words identified by Fry can be downloaded from the internet.

Mastering usage of the most commonly used words would be very helpful for children to do well in school. Mastering sight words improves the speed of reading and it greatly helps in comprehension. Mastery of sight words helps children to copy from the board quickly and take down notes dictated by teachers.

In this activity, the child has to choose the appropriate word box for a word. Seventy words are used in the lessons. All these words are chosen from the first 300 words in the list of words prepared by Edward Fry. As mentioned above, the first list of 300 words cover 65% of texts children read. Word Boxes can help children to learn sight words.

About levels in this activity

There are four levels. In the first level, only three-letter words are used. Second level has only four-letter words. Five-letter words are used in level four. The length of words used varies in the last level. Some words have more than five letters in them.

Ask the child to match the word with the word box. After doing enough practice, the child can make their own word box for every word they learn.

Tips for you, parents:

  1. Does your child struggle with spelling?

    This is a good activity to improve the ability to spell words. Make the child read aloud the words used in this game. Difficulty in reading causes difficulty in spelling. The first step is to get a good idea of your child’s ability to read. If the child has problems in reading, take remedial action.

    The lack of awareness of sounds in English may be the reason for your child’s difficulty in reading and writing. Download the 44 sounds of English. You can familiarise your child with these units of sounds in the English language.

  2. Use spelling lists
  3. The words used in this activity are taken from the first 300 words of Fry words. It is a good idea to have a list of Fry words. These words can be downloaded from the net. Ask the child to prepare word boxes for these words when teaching her/him spelling. Make your child read frequently this list of words. This can improve fluency in reading. Mastering spelling of these words would boost the confidence of the child as these words are commonly used.

  4. Use these words for dictation
  5. For children struggling with spelling, dictation is a good remedy. The words used in this activity can be used for giving dictation. If your child is very poor in spelling, you may have to give dictation three or four times in a day. Have short sessions. Make your child draw word boxes of words she/he finds it difficult to spell.

    Care should be taken while choosing the words for dictation. Have a good idea of words which your child can spell correctly. If you are planning to dictate ten words to your child, include at least six words which the child can spell correctly. Your child would be in a better frame of mind to learn when she/he gets most of the words right. Buy a good picture dictionary. This would be useful to teach spelling. The child can relate the word to the picture. You can also download picture dictionaries free from the internet.

    Don’t rush to teach new words. Give plenty of revision. Slow and steady wins the race!

  6. Recall words to fit in the word boxes.
  7. Another way to improve spelling is to draw several different types of word boxes and ask the child to find more than one word to fill the pattern. Example: If you have drawn a word box for large and the child cannot figure out the word, you can give a clue by stating it is another word for big. Give as many clues so that the child can solve the problem.

    The shapes of words can be a good memory peg for children. They can even classify words according to their shape. For example, cold, sell, well, walk have the same word boxes. Note the shape of word boxes for the words bald, hold, talk is the same. The words sand, mend, most, such, read have similar shapes. The use of word boxes would make the child observe the shape of the words and this can lead to improvement in spelling.

  8. Improve sentence formation skills
  9. Another way these sets of words can be used is to have the child write sentences with these words. Make the child write fifteen sentences every day. Sentence writing is good to correct many mistakes the child may be making- such as not starting the sentence with a capital letter, omission of punctuation marks like full stop, comma, and question mark. Issues in grammar can also be sorted out. Sentence writing helps to develop the ability to write different types of sentences. It also helps to express ideas well in an organized manner.

    Dictate simple sentences to your child on a regular basis. Search the net for sentence examples. The word ____ in example sentences. Use this format for searching sentence examples:

    Examples for the search using the above format:

    1. The word cry in example sentences.
    2. The word laugh in example sentences.
    3. The word child in example sentences. Go on changing the word to get a variety of sentence examples.
  10. Improving memory and recall skills
  11. Find out how good is your child’s memory. Does she/he have difficulty in recalling what was just learnt? Is she/he good at following oral instructions? There are children who have very poor short-term memory. They are not able to recall what they learnt even after few minutes. The words included in this activity can be used to improve memory and recall skills. Because of poor short-term memory, they are not able to remember the oral instructions given to them.

    Show a list of ten words or show three sentences to the child. Allow her/ him two minutes to read the words/sentences. Ask her/him to write the words or sentences. These need not be in the order in which the child had read the words/sentences. It is enough the material read are recalled and written. Record your child’s progress. You are likely to see good improvement in your child’s recall ability. Ignore the spelling mistakes made by your child because in this activity, we are emphasizing on the quality of recall.

  12. Ask the child to set questions to you!
  13. One way of mastering an activity is to prepare questions to test others. Ask the child to test you. It would be a good idea to make one or two mistakes. Your child would be happy to see you making few mistakes! It would give your child great pleasure to correct your answers!

  1. Encourage the child to draw word boxes.
  2. Search the net to download exercises using word boxes. Search the net: “images for word boxes” or search “exercises with word shapes”. You can search the net for rhyming words, words by length, words with consonant blends etc.
  3. Learn about the sounds in English language.