It is really important to teach reading and spelling together so that children can see that reading is decoding letters into sounds and spelling is encoding sounds into letters. In short, they are reverse activities. This way children learn how the English language alphabetic code actually works. It also means that from the beginning, children will use the best graphemes they know (best approximation) to spell words they want to write.
I have found the Smart Chute a really useful multi-sensory resource with struggling readers and spellers. Here is how I use this resource to teach a new grapheme in a fun way.
Teach the grapheme through word-building e.g. build the words ‘rain, wait, tail etc’
Ask the child to spell every word they have built saying the sounds as they spell the word.
Make cards for the Smart Chute with the grapheme that you are teaching, e.g. ‘ai’. You will need to have the pictures on one side and the words upside down on the other.
For reading: ask the child to pick up a card with a word and read the word, then post the card and check if he/she read it correctly.
For spelling: ask the child to segment the sounds of the word in the picture and spell it. Ask the child to post the card and check if he/she spelled the word correctly.
Tip 1: for children who struggle with reading you can highlight or underline the grapheme if is has more than one letter
Tip 2: for children who struggle with spelling you can draw lines on a white board to indicate the number of graphemes in the word.
Smart Chutes are available from our distributor Smart Kids.