This lesson idea is perfect for a time-stretched teacher. The activity is easy to prepare as it requires minimal resourcing, just the printed teaching resource as a prompt. And it requires zero set-up time. It’s a ready-to-go spelling lesson or a quick activity during a literacy lesson.
Students will love it too. An interesting change from the often dry and monotonous task of learning spelling. The Sign-Language Spelling activity will capture their attention and offer something new.
Learning to spell is essential in developing students’ written communication and it also helps develop their abilities to read fluently. It is therefore important for teachers to provide students with different strategies to help them recall spelling words.
Sign-Language Spelling is a super strategy for teaching spelling. Not just because it’s fun, but it also engages motor memory. Motor memory is a form of memory that is created through movements. So, when the students are using hand movements to sign they are also subconsciously engaging their memory. This provides another layer of help for students trying to memorise their spelling words.
How to use the teaching resource:
1. To begin the activity, the teacher must first teach the students how to sign the alphabet. We recommend that you print the Sign-Language Spelling teacher resource and encourage students to use it as a prompt while they are learning.
2. Once the students have practised signing the alphabet, they will now write their spelling words in the spelling word grid at the bottom of the page.
3. Finally, students partner-up and take it in turns to sign a spelling word. Their partner must try to ‘read’ the word they are signing.
Extending Learning and More Lesson Ideas:
⚫️ Instead of the usual class spelling assessment, you might want to consider organising a ‘spelling-bee’ with a twist. Challenge the students to sign the answers to the questions. The class could split into teams and score points for each correctly spelt word.
⚫️ You may like to use our Spelling Strategies bookmarks too. Print them out and give them to each student. When they are reading they can have easy access to spelling strategies to help them decode words and create meaning from the text.
⚫️ An advantage of introducing sign-language to the classroom is that it generates discussion and awareness about inclusion. Many schools are trying hard to become more inclusive, by incorporating sign language into their everyday classroom culture. Sign-Language Spelling is a fantastic activity to complement this. Learning the alphabet is one of the first steps in learning to communicate in sign. It could be a starting block from which your students want to learn more. As a class, research some common phrases in sign and try to use them around school.
⚫️ You may also find that sign-language spelling is a starter for discussion around topics such as communication, language and inclusion. So why not take the opportunity to explore these topics in your next ‘circle-time’ or personal/social studies lesson.
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