Quiz: How Children Spell

  • Young children are exuberant writers! If they are not inhibited by "proper spelling" worries, they will boldly tackle any word they know how to say. Proper spelling comes gradually as children gain more experience and learn to edit their work.


    The words below have all been found in first grade writing samples. See how good you are at deciphering them! Select your answers. Then click on SCORE to see how you did, and to learn the right answers.

Quiz: How Children Learn

Children sometimes do well on reading tests in first or second grade because they are good at memorizing the visual appearance of words. You think they are doing fine! However, when they get to third grade they may start experiencing more difficulty because they encounter many more words that begin to look alike. If they have not learned to “sound-out” words using phonics skills, they will not be able to decode new words independently, and they may have more and more difficulty as reading becomes more complex. Guessing from context or pictures no longer works if there are too many gaps in a sentence to comprehend the overall meaning. If guessing becomes a strategy, children often begin to feel uncomfortable about reading, because they are not experiencing success. Their confidence lags, and their interest and curiosity can turn to frustration.

Try this simple test to help you assess whether your child is using phonics and knows how to sound-out new words. These are nonsense words. Check carefully to determine whether your child pronounces each one correctly. Show your child the following non-words on the screen and ask him/her to pronounce them (you may want to print out the list). The correct pronunciation is suggested in the parentheses. When children miss more than 3, or take a long time to figure out each word, they need more practice with encoding and decoding words and non-words until the use of phonics is automatic and unconscious, like riding a bicycle.

NID (rhymes with LID)
SUG (rhymes with HUG)
LAT (rhymes with HAT)
BOZ (rhymes with OZ)
WEM (rhymes with THEM)
FANT (rhymes with PANT)
SLIG (rhymes with BIG)
HIFT (rhymes with LIFT)
TREB (rhymes with WEB)
VACTUS (rhymes with CACTUS)

Have some fun! Try making up your own non-words!