Hands-On Spelling and Reading Activities for Students

Hands-On Spelling and Reading Activities for Students


Students learn everything easier when they get to use their hands to interact with what they are learning about in a concrete way. It also helps them to remember what they learnt. Hands-on spelling activities are helpful to students who have difficulty with reading and spelling. There are activities that students can do to focus on specific skills that will improve their reading and spelling ability. These skills can be to identify certain vowel sound in a few sentences, create and build words by word families, Students enjoy activities like word hunts and reading with a hand held mirror to mimic mouth formation pictures for the right sound production. Using the activities listed below will make students enjoy learning to read and spell.

I love to find helpful teaching tips. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a commission for purchases using my links. Learn more. The ideas and paid links below are based on hands-on tools that your students can use to practice reading and spelling in a fun way.

Hands-On Spelling Activities

  • Word hunt activity for spelling and word association: I got this idea from a parent of a first grader, but it can work for the classroom. These letter shaped beads are used for this activity. She hides the letters in an Easter egg (or something else) and the seven year old finds the egg, puts the letters in order to match a word the parent wrote on the spelling sheet. Then the child writes the same word (on her own) next to where it was already written.

  • Wooden short vowel reading word puzzles: This set is great for making short vowel words which are shown on picture cards. Eacg card spells a word and the other side shows a picture. There are consonant letter tiles that students can place before and after the vowel plate to make words. This spelling activity set is great for visual learners and tactile learners. 

  • Phonics Crafts for students: Students love making crafts, so why not have them make crafts for phonics? In this phonics activities and crafts blog post, I share pictures of phonics crafts that my students created, with my help.

Hands-On Reading Activities

  • Use a phonics mirror with pictures of mouth formations: This Hand 2 Mind Mirror - My Sounds Phoneme Set can be used to have some visuals to help students to produce a variety of speech sounds. It includes phonics cards in a holder with a mirror, and a handbook with game instructions. The cards have phonic sounds and pictures of the mouth to show the formation positions of the lips and tongue for these sounds. Speech therapists use this in their practice.

  • Color coding word sounds with Bingo chips: Students can use translucent Bingo chips in assorted colors to identify certain vowel sounds in the text they are reading. Assign a different color chip for each sound, for example, putting orange chips on words with the long 'I' sound.

  • Word Wheels: Words wheels make reading fun. Each wheel targets a specific word family. These are great for beginners who can identify letter sounds but need practice with merging the sounds together to form words. I have a collection of word wheels that are illustrated with pictures. There is a free sample word wheel which is great for reading words in the '_at' family. See the full collection here.

  • Phonics Phones for students: These are used for independent reading so that students can hear themselves read. To make phonics phones, you will need cuts of PVC pipe and elbows, colorful duct tape for the middle part, solvent cement, and spray paint. You can use store-bought phonics phones instead. Both types of phones can be stored in a clear or translucent pocket chart, that is numbered with number stickers, to match the phonic phones to student numbers. 

You may also be interested in this blog post about how you can make spelling tests for your students.
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