Spelling Mnemonics: How To Remember High Frequency Words

23 February 2022

When you ascertain a fact, be as certain as you can be because no one will believe a lie.

Did you see what I did there? The word ascertain was broken down into two smaller words that are easier to remember. They also help to understand the meaning of the main word. For believe, we just found a word within it and that particular part is a bit hard to remember- many will write ‘belive’ if they don’t remember it properly.

Tricks like these to remember spellings are called Spelling mnemonics. It is a tool that takes the information of what the user already knows and connects them to the target word so that the user can remember better. It is a widely used effective strategy to learn spelling words faster. Spelling mnemonics are mainly used to learn irregularly spelled words or commonly misspelled words because they don’t follow traditional spelling rules or patterns, but they are not limited to that only. You can use this technique to learn any word you want, no matter how simple or complex they are.

In this article, we will discuss Spelling mnemonics that are used to learn high frequency words that are repeatedly used in our everyday life.

Let’s get started!


What are High Frequency Words?

In case you are confused, high frequency words are also known as Sight words. These words appear so frequently in our speech or in the contents we read that anyone can recognize them as soon as they see them. Consider words such as ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘what’, ‘you’, ‘is’, ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘of’, ‘to’ (plenty of sight words are prepositions, apparently) etc. It’s hardly possible to write a few lines without using any of them.

High frequency words are a major stage of the initial stage of building vocabulary. Knowing these words enables a person to read fluently, improves their writing ability and aids their speaking skill. Also, by mastering the sight words, it would be easier for a child to advance to the next level and learn more difficult words.

Do you know that by learning around 300 high frequency words, a child can read about 75% of works of children's literature that are written in English! And by following proper strategy, learning that many words or more are possible within 2nd grade.


Why Do We Need Mnemonics for Spelling High Frequency Words?

Now the question arises that if a word can be recognized just by looking at it, why do we need spelling mnemonics to learn it? Children will eventually learn them by seeing these words in front of them so many times, right? Wrong.

Of course, it might seem unnecessary to go to such extent to learn a word that you probably see more than 30 times a day, but spelling mnemonics used to teach sight words are an important part of teaching spelling, especially to beginner level students.

Think about kindergarten students who just have mastered the letters and their corresponding sounds and have yet to understand the concept of words. Even sight words are foreign to them as they might struggle to spell even a word containing two or three letters. When we are introducing spelling to help them learn basic words, we must make the process as easy as possible. This is where spelling mnemonics come.

One problem the teachers often face with high frequency words is that in many cases, the spelling and the sound of these words are different. It is difficult for a child to learn spelling from sound. Mnemonics in these cases work better than other methods.

Also, rhyming spelling mnemonics or making up their own mnemonics will be more attractive to children than traditional memorizing. These mnemonics are easier for them to remember than spelling rules.

As you're interested in spelling mnemonics, you should definitely check these vocabulary acquisition activities. It can work wonders for enriching your English vocabulary. 


How To Teach Spelling Mnemonics for Sight Words

For kindergarten students, the best spelling mnemonics strategy would be assigning a word to each letter and making a sentence with them. Here is how that can be done:

  • Take the word that needs to be spelled and assign a word for each letter.
  • Make a sentence with the words maintaining the sequence of letters in the spelling word
  • The sentence might sound absurd or silly in some cases (Said: Silly Aunts In Dresses) but don’t mind them. Children might find the sillier ones more interesting.

As the words mostly consist of less than 5 letters, the kids won’t feel difficult to remember them. Below are some popular examples of Spelling Mnemonics that you can use in your classroom:

  • They: They Had Eggs Yesterday
  • Other: Only Tigers Hunt Evil Rabbits
  • What: What a HAT!
  • But: Butterflies Under Trees
  • Come: Can’t Open My Eyes
  • Came: Can Anyone Make Eggs?
  • Very: Very Early risers Yawn
  • View: View It Every Way
  • Here: Here Every Rat Eats
  • Ocean: Only Cat’s Eyes Are Yellow
  • Often: Dad often gives a bill of ten
  • Said: Small Ants in Danger
  • Does: Dad Only Eats Salad
  • Sail: Sail Across Inari Lake
  • Laugh: Laugh And You Get Happy (A lesson even the older ones need to learn)

After mastering the simple words, you can teach them to find those words in bigger words. Being able to break down words into smaller words will help them remember new words quicker as they know the spelling of some parts beforehand.


Techniques For the Classroom

You can even design a classroom activity of finding words within words.

Here are some spelling mnemonics that use this technique:

  • You Hear with your ear
  • Here, there, everywhere!
  • Be sure of your measurements.
  • Miss Pell never misspells
  • The principal is your pal.
  • Have a piece of the pie.
  • You need to get her to be together
  • Slaughter is laughter with an S
  • I saw an ad for the dress with this address.
  • An island is land surrounded by water
  • CIA has special agents.

You can ask the students to make their own mnemonics. They will show great enthusiasm and work on the words with more attention which will help them memorize the word quicker. If you are looking for words to use in this activity, use SpellQuiz Printable Words Lists.

You will find multiple lists of spelling words appropriate for each grade and for adults too. There are lists for sight words, fry words and spelling bee words. The website also offers a special Spelling Test for Sight Words so that the students don’t have to worry about receiving unfamiliar words.


Spelling Rhymes

Who doesn’t love rhymes? And what could be better than learning new words with fun rhymes? You definitely heard the famous rhyme from movie ‘Matilda’:

Mrs. D, Mrs. I

Mrs. F-F-I

Mrs. C, Mrs. U

Mrs. L-T-Y

Isn’t it amazing to learn ‘difficulty’ without any difficulty? Guess which word is spelled in the rhyme below:

Mrs. M, Mrs. I

Mrs. S-S-I

Mrs. S-S-I

Mrs. P-P-I

Not just one word, rhymes can teach multiple words with similar spelling too. Take the one below for example:

The cat ate a rat

And after that

The naughty cat sat

On a big yellow mat

Spelling rhymes will come in handy when you start teaching them spelling rules such as:

Q and U

Stick like a glue

When -ing comes to play

E runs away

I before E

Except after C

Or when sounded A

As in neighbour and weigh

When it comes to teaching spelling, spelling rhymes never go wrong. As they are stored by acoustic encoding in the brain, students hardly face any difficulty memorizing them.

Spelling clubs can help in remembering spelling mnemonics faster. Check out our spelling club free guide now!


Things To Remember

Spelling mnemonics are undoubtedly one of the most efficient techniques to teach spelling, but there are a handful of things teachers and parents consider before applying it.

  • Overusing spelling mnemonics will confuse the learners and slow down the learning process as a result. Use the mnemonics only when necessary.
  • Popular mnemonics are always a good choice. You can find plenty on the internet. But check if they are really useful for your students. Some students might find them difficult to remember. In those cases, change the words or create your own.
  • Creating your own mnemonics helps immensely in learning to spell. You should also encourage your students to make their own mnemonics. But don’t give them too many words or else they might mix up the mnemonics.
  • Ask your children to keep a notebook for the mnemonics or make posters of them that you can hang on your classroom walls. This way students can always revise if they forget anything.


In the End

You also need to assess if the strategies you are applying to teach are effective enough. To do so, you can use SpellQuiz Spelling Tests to evaluate the spelling skill of the students and monitor their progress. In this test, the students will hear a sentence and they need to spell all the words correctly. The sentence is repeated two times- once at normal speed and once slowly.

They can play it as many times as they want. The tests are divided into grades and available for adults. The sentences are recorded by professional voice artists so you don’t need to worry about accent or pronunciation, in fact, the candidate can improve their pronunciation skill this way.

Looking forward to hearing how you used the spelling mnemonics. Happy Spelling!

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