Invented Spelling

Creative Spelling, Inventive Spelling

UDL 2.3 UDL 5.3

Invented Spelling is an early literacy strategy in which a teacher encourages students to use their emerging letter-sound knowledge in order to spell out words rather than asking students to spell correctly. To successfully implement this strategy and support spelling development, students are given meaningful opportunities to practice spelling and writing (e.g., lists, labels, menus, simple sentences and stories). While writing, the teacher offers little to no corrections. Rather, the teacher encourages students to use their own phonetic knowledge to write (e.g., “Write the sound that you hear.”). Invented Spelling coincides with explicit instruction in letter naming and letter-sound correspondence. To further support students’ use of Invented Spelling, the teacher uses modeling through shared writing activities (e.g., teacher thinks aloud how to spell while drafting a class story). As Invented Spelling requires early learners to assess the sounds they hear and formulate words rather than memorizing letter-sound correspondence individually, it supports students in developing a stronger association between letters and sounds.

Ready-to-Use Resources


Student Journal Templates

A wide-ranging set of student journal templates. The collection features both lined and unlined variations and each template includes ample space for students' drawings. Use collaboratively with students to dictate stories, or independently to practice sight words, invented spelling and constructing simple sentences and stories

Grade K, 1, 2 · English Language Arts, Writing · 9 pages

Implementation Tips

Planning Spelling Opportunities
Create meaningful opportunities to spell and write. Develop engaging, relevant writing prompts for student to use to write original stories. Have students craft their own lists, menus or labels.
Modeling Spelling
Model spelling with a think aloud during sharing writing. Demonstrate making decisions about how to spell a given word by stretching out the individual phonemes aloud.
Prompting Students
Prompt students to identify the initial phoneme in a word (e.g. “I hear a /p/ at the beginning of the word. What other sounds do you hear?”) and let them figure out the rest of the word. This will encourage students who are stuck.
Offering Feedback
Conference with students about their work. When providing feedback, reinforce correct phonemes that students are hearing and spelling (e.g., Student writes "apl" for apple. “I see you heard the /p/ and the /l/. Aapppplll. Way to sound it out!”).
Encouraging Students
Resist the temptation to correct student work and encourage all student attempts to produce writing. When students express frustration (e.g., “I don’t know how.”), remind them of the assets they possess to be able to spell (e.g., use words, hear sounds, form letters).
Integrating Throughout the Day
Incorporate opportunities to write across content and throughout the classroom. Writing can be integrated into morning work, learning centers and whole class instruction. Encourage students to add labels or descriptions to their illustrations and include lines for adding words to all other assignments.
Listening to Students Read
Ask students to read the work that they have written in order for them to further practice connecting the spelling that they have formulated to meaningful words.


Writing Instruction
While working with a small group during literacy centers, a teacher passes out a sheet with four pictures of words that begin with a /d/. Next to each picture is line with the letter 'd' written on it. The teacher instructs the students, “We have been working with words that have the same beginning sounds. Look at these pictures! They all start with /d/. The 'd' is even written on the line for us! I know we need to add more letters to spell the words. Let’s say the words together and see what other sounds we hear. D-oooo-gggg.” As the teacher and students stretch the word aloud, the teacher observes that most of the students in the group have written a 'g' next to the 'd.' As students write, the teacher encourages their efforts to figure out the remaining sounds (e.g., “ I see you added a 'g' after the 'd.' I heard the /g/ sound too!).
Learning Centers
At the beginning of the week, the teacher has updated the classroom learning centers to include new materials. In the Writing Center, the teacher has created shopping lists using pictures of food with lines next to each item for students to write the word (e.g., clip art or newspaper pictures with a clear designated spot to write). As students are working in learning centers, the teacher rotates to observe students’ work and offer feedback and support. The teacher notes that one student has written “pza” next to a picture of a pizza. To reinforce the student's use of phonetic knowledge, the teacher says,“Great job! I see you heard three sounds in pizza, /p/ /z/ /a/!”

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