6th Grade Spelling - Teaching Tips for Problematic Words

6th grade student writing at desk

Two types of 6th grade spelling words are especially problematic for two reasons:
 
1) Words that are easily confused with other words and

2) Words words with tricky vowel spellings.

We'll look at examples of these words, along with ways to help students learn to spell these words correctly.

Problem: 

Many sixth grade spelling words are easily confused with other words that sound or look similar.

Consider these word pairs:

  • accept/except       
  • believe/belief
  • hangar/hanger


In order to learn the correct spellings of these words, students must make an intentional effort to look at the different spellings, look at their different meanings and then practice the proper usage of these words.

Solutions:

coat hanger

For help with incorrect usage of homonyms, such as hangar/hanger, their/they're/there. capital/capitol and many more sets, check out our online spelling game and our list of 50 homonym sets.

To help students master these words, one of the best assignments you can give them is to:

  • Write out brief definitions for each word, including its part of speech, and
  • Write ONE sentence that uses both words.


The student's response would look something like this:
 
accept/except
accept - verb,  "to receive something"  
except - preposition, "excluding"

Everyone accepted the award except Mona, who was absent.

Problem:

Another set of tricky 6th grade spelling words may be those that contain "extra" vowels, vowels that form their own syllable, or vowels that are frequently replaced with incorrect vowels.

Troublesome vowels words include:

ancient coupon disastrous
familiar marriage separate
temperature vacuum vegetable

Solution:

One of the best ways to learn some of these words is to over-emphasize the problematic vowel when pronouncing the words.

fresh carrot

For instance, teach your student to pronounce these words with  FOUR syllables:  

  • vegetable:  Say  "vej-EH-tuh-buhl"
  • familiar: Say  "fuh-mil-E-yer"   or  "fuh-mil-I-yer"

Encourage your student to mentally use this intentional mispronunciation to help her spell the word correctly until she has it memorized.

More Ideas for 6th Grade Spelling

barbells

More tips for Building Spelling Skills - How to focus your instruction so that your upper elementary students will continue to improve their spelling.

Step-By-Step Spelling Lesson Plans - Here's a very methodical way  to teach, or learn, those tricky IE/EI words. Great for ESL students, upper elementary students, or adults. You can use every step of this lesson, or just the ones that you need. This free printable lesson includes a link to big list of IE/EI words for extra study and practice.

Games & Worksheets

Here are just a few samples from our large collections:

Spelling Bee Games - Try one of our new Silent Spelling Bee variations. A fun--and quiet--twist on  a classic game!

Croaky the frog on a branch

Croaky Meets the Plumber and Extra Letters Worksheets: Students chose the correctly spelled words to complete an interesting story or eliminate extra letters to solve a word puzzle. Based on our sixth grade spelling word list.

Antonym Antics - A worksheet for students who are ready for a challenge!


Go to main page for 6th grade spelling words
Go to home page for Spelling Words Well



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Colossal Spelling Bee Word Lists  Definitions, parts of speech & sentences included for 600 words, at two levels

100 Difficult Spelling Bee Words, Definitions & Sentences  Our toughest list, for upper grades and adults!

600 Spelling Bee Words & Sentences for Gr 3/5 & 6/8 Extra words & sentences at two levels

101 Word Play Puzzlers   Build spelling and vocab skills in upper grade and adult students. Lots of fun for word-play fans!

AnyWord Spelling Practice Series  Worksheets, games & prompts that work with almost ANY spelling words