Sensory-Based Activities for Spelling

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As you approach the end of your instructional year, it’s time to pull out all the stops. It's a great time to reinforce the skills your students have learned throughout the year. Here are several cool ways to have some spelling fun:



Idea #1: Let Your Fingers Do the Learning

Tactile learners need extra stimulus through their sense of touch. No doubt, you have one or two in your bunch who learn best through touch. You can tap into their strengths by using shaving cream spread thinly on a large, solid, flat surface. Students can practice spelling basic phonemes in the shaving cream by drawing the letter symbols with their fingers in the thin shaving cream covering on the work surface. Sometimes, your kids may exhibit fine motor or gross motor issues—for instance, in their handwriting.


Idea #2: Piping Sounds and Words

Finally, for a completely edible and delicious way to review spelling strategies or phonics concepts, melt some chocolate chips and add a bit of paraffin wax to the mixture. Scoop some chocolate into plastic decorator bags or zip-lock baggies with a small hole cut out of one of the bottom corners. Announce a group of phonemes you want to review, or whole words to spell, and challenge the kids to “squeeze” out chocolate sounds and words onto wax paper. Refrigerate them after the review and enjoy eating them for a tasty and positive morsel of reinforcement!

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By giving your students multiple sensory experiences with various mediums, such as shaving cream, you can review skills in a fun way and also help ease some of their frustration. Don't limit this activity to just sounds; you can have students spell out entire words, too. You can also turn this into a small-group activity and let students take turns.


Supplies Needed:

Shaving cream (foam, not gel)

Chocolate chips

Paraffin wax (the kind used in home canning)

Decorator bags or zip-lock baggies


You can always change-up the sensory activity by utilizing other materials. For example, consider using colored art sand or colored dusting sugar on a large, flat surface. Letting their fingers do the learning and the reviewing can stay with them for lifetime if you play it up right.

Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.


He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.

Across the Curriculum: Sentence Construction

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Across the Curriculum activities are intended to be purposeful and meaningful, but coming up with a great idea that truly connects content can be tough. Today, let's explore an Across the Curriculum activity that you can utilize during your ELA block using Sentence Blueprints. 


What is a Sentence Blueprint?

Sentence Blueprints are a unique feature in Shurley English. Writing Sentence Blueprints helps students make the connection between grammar and the writing process. Writing Sentence Blueprints from grammar labels establishes a foundation for sentence composition. Then, students learn to expand and improve their original sentences, using revision strategies to write improved sentences. In addition, Sentence Blueprints sneak in many other skills, including sentence analyzation and sentence sense work while the student is experiencing the power of revision as they focus on only one sentence.

In our Across the Curriculum activity, your students will use vocabulary from an area of focus to help them build understanding in two ways. First, they will learn to build and revise their writing. Secondly, they will grow in their knowledge of the content area you are exploring.


Getting Started:

First, decide on a theme or topic from another subject area. For example, if your school is focusing on the theme of fitness- emphasizing exercise, healthy eating, good sleep habits, and living a balanced life, you can design a lesson with Sentence Blueprints that helps your students focus on the vocabulary related to that emphasis. Here's a quick checklist that you can follow:

  1. Select your area of focus/theme.
  2. List the parts of speech your students have learned.
  3. List the sentence patterns your students have learned.
  4. Model a themed Sentence Blueprint for your students.
  5. Provide your students with a Sentence Blueprint worksheet.
  6. Let your students get focused while being creative!

Here's an example of a completed Across the Curriculum Sentence Blueprint using a fitness theme:

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IMPORTANT REMINDER: Don't forget, an important step in this process is going through the sentence showing the six revision strategies. This will help your students see the power of revising as they participate in the writing process at the sentence level. (We'll dive deeper into the six revisions strategies on another day.)


Comment /Source

Cindy Goeden

Cindy Goeden has enjoyed being involved with Shurley English for the last sixteen of her twenty-six years in the field of education.  Working with various levels of students in elementary, junior, and high schools, in both the private and public arenas, Cindy surely is thankful for the providential day that she was introduced to Shurley English, which changed forever her approach to Language Arts instruction. That has led to her current job of having the joy of sharing about Shurley with other educators.  Her love of learning has prodded her to earn over two hundred and twenty hours, which includes two bachelor degrees in education.


Cindy currently lives with her husband, Donald, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she enjoys puttering in her flowers, changing up her décor with the seasons, and occasionally getting out and traveling with Donald to either explore a new beach or view historic sights and gardens.

The Power of Adjectives

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Competent writing begins with understanding basic sentence structure. It's true! Today, let's talk specifically about the POWER of the adjective.

Learning the Shurley English Adjective Jingle during Jingle Time is the first step to leaning about adjectives!  The basic information recited explains (1) what an adjective is, (2) what an adjective does, and (3) how to locate an adjective in a sentence. 

Reciting the Adjective Jingle regularly helps students easily remember the grammar concept.  Once they grasp the basic understanding, they can begin to effectively and strategically apply adjectives when speaking and writing. 

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There’s more to adjectives than the information provided in the jingle.  You see, adjectives are a part of speech with POWER, and their job in the sentence is exclusive!  Only an adjective can modify a noun or pronoun by telling what kind, which one, or how many.   Only adjectives can be used to describe how something feels, looks, sounds, tastes, and acts!

Besides common adjectives like short, last, and ten, there are five distinct categories of adjectives you should know:  (A) article adjectives, (B) proper adjectives, (C) demonstrative adjectives, (D) interrogative adjectives, and (E) indefinite adjectives.


Five Categories of Adjectives:

1. Article Adjectives:  Only three commonly used adjectives are called article adjectives.  They are a, an, and the.   We use them on a daily basis when speaking and writing without giving them much thought.  The article adjectives actually restrict the meanings of the nouns they modify.  For instance, the article “the” is a definite article, meaning a specific person, place, or thing.  A and an are indefinite articles, meaning one of several.

Hint:  Use the sound of the noun’s first letter to select a or an

-If the noun begins with a consonant, use the article adjective “a” before it.    

-If the noun begins with a vowel, use the article adjective “an” before it.


2.  Proper Adjectives:  Adjectives formed from a proper noun are called proper adjectives.  Proper Adjectives are always capitalized no matter where they are located in the sentence.  (I love Mexican food, English is my second language.) 


3.  Demonstrative Adjectives: The adjectives we use to point out a particular person, place, or thing are called demonstrative adjectives.  These adjectives modify the noun or pronoun by telling “which one,” specifically.  (This coat is mine.)  To use the correct demonstrative adjective, you must use the following Tips:

Ask:  Is the demonstrative adjective modifying a singular or plural noun? 

-Use the demonstrative adjectives “this or that” to modify a singular noun. 

-Use the demonstrative adjectives “these or those” to modify plural nouns. 


4.  Interrogative Adjectives:  The adjective used in front of the noun it modifies to ask the questions what, which, or whose is called an interrogative adjective.  (Which desk is Nancy’s?)


5.  Indefinite Adjectives: An indefinite adjective is an adjective formed from an indefinite pronoun.  It modifies a noun instead of replacing it.  Indefinite adjectives are used to qualify nouns and express the indefinite idea of quality or quantity.  Some common indefinite adjectives include words like any, each, few, many, more, several, and some, etc.    (Each student contributed several food items during the food drive.)


Use any category of adjectives with competence and confidence by learning about them and applying them when you’re speaking and writing.  Before long, you’ll be effectively and strategically using them as you speak and write for all purposes!

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.