Back in 2012, we recommended Wheeler’s Graded Studies in Great Authors as an excellent dictation and spelling resource — a natural way to focus on spelling by copying great authors. Now we turn to Wheeler’s Elementary Speller published in 1901 by the same author.
The Elementary Speller focuses on phonetic spelling while still using the words of great authors as the focus — a great foundation for Graded Studies in Great Authors.
It is the purpose of this little book to start the pupil on the right track, and to furnish him a vocabulary of words which are in general use and which every pupil should know how to spell. In its preparation the author has been guided by the conviction that spelling is largely a matter of memory, and that, as memory is usually the best-developed faculty of the child’s mind, spelling should receive special attention during the earlier years of school life; that it is a waste of time to drill a child on words of whose meaning he has no idea, and a large number of which he will never have occasion to use; that some knowledge of the diacritical marks is absolutely necessary for the intelligent use of a dictionary; that the pupil should be taught not only to spell orally, but also to write without misspelling words; that the meaning of a new word is frequently detected more readily by seeing it or hearing it in a sentence than by studying its definitions; that teaching spelling can be made less mechanical, more interesting and more effective by using some carefully selected and well-graded dictation exercises than by confining the work entirely to lists of words; and that a word has not been thoroughly learned by the pupil until he has mastered it in its four relations, viz. its sound to the ear, its form to the eye, its meaning to the mind, and its correct use in connection with other words.
To this end, the author begins by identifying vowels and constants before moving directly on to long/short vowel sounds.
In the second lesson, for example, the rule is set at the top:
Short a as in hat…
Long a as in hate….
The diacritical marks are also provided. Then words of both long and short vowel sounds are copied, spelled orally, and written from dictation. In the next lesson, sentences by James Whitcomb Riley and Sir Walter Scott are copied and those long and short vowel sounds are marked.
This process is continued in various forms through 346 lessons where words in passages are copied, written from dictation, or memorized. There are also occasions for original sentences, stories, picture narrations, and review.
Other items covered include:
At the end of the book, the student will have a compete and full understanding of how spelling works!
- Before beginning, make sure your child can read well and is comfortable writing.
- The book is obviously meant to span more than one standard school year. Go at the pace of your child.
- Keep a spelling notebook. The rules can be written at the top of a page. The words that follow the rule can be placed underneath.
10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #5 Grammar & Spelling
Suggestions for creating a spelling notebook.
10 Steps to Build a Better Speller
The way we covered spelling. These ideas will work very well with this book.
Wheeler’s Elementary Speller
Paperback for those who prefer a hard copy.