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Spelling the SSP Way
A whole school (whole child) approach

Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach

Students can spell ALL words using the new Spelling Cards, including any 'sight words'. 

The Speedy Six Spelling Program
Online Training - Included in PC Plan

Spelling is one of the most unnatural of skills humans ever have to learn.


Without phonemic awareness it is like trying to thread a needle with your eyes closed.Even with great phonemic awareness (they can isolate, segment and blend speech sounds effortlessly) spelling is incredibly difficult.

For far too long educators have tried to teach students to spell words (eg as lists). They usually do this with whole words. Learning opportunities are missed. The SSP activities are to teach students how to put probable spelling choices on the lines, recognise which ‘looks right’ and know how to check and self-correct. When ‘marking’ be specific ! Which Sound Pic needs to change? This is why ‘Code Mapping’ is so powerful.

But more than 'phonics' skills are needed.

Working with words 'the SSP Way' helps young children become proficient speakers! They need to think about how they are using words in sentences, and even young children are aware of how words work. No one tells them to say ‘‘I goed swimming’ when we ask them what they did at the weekend. It may be grammatically incorrect, but they are demonstrating an awareness that ‘ed’ makes the verb a past tense. We are using spelling to build on their oral language skills, and using their oral language skills to build on their understanding of how to spell words!

We can also look at the meaningful parts of words (morphemes) Some will be more meaningful than others, and therefore more useful to the child at that time. When eating cereal you might point out the word ‘breakfast’ on the box and say the word. After the child uses their ‘duck hands’ to segment the word’ you could point out that there are 2 meaningful parts – break and fast. Do we pronounce the word ‘break’ differently when it is on its own? And why might these words be used to describe our morning meal? What is a ‘fast’? Did we do this last night? So did we break the fast? …etc.


We are helping pre-schoolers not only learn to spell the word, but understand so much more ! The goal is not that they know how to spell the word ‘breakfast’, it is so that they learn how to work with words! The focus is on the learning process, using every day activities; the words we choose are far less important than the way we investigate them. They can then apply these skills to unfamiliar words, and independently self-correct far more easily. When we ask ‘does it look right’ they will be able to explain why (or not) even if they have never seen the word before !


They also develop an understanding of spelling patterns, and ‘orthography’. Orthography means that they know which graphemes COULD be used (even if they don’t choose the right ones)

Doctor Duck

So ‘ck’ might be a choice for the last sound (speech sound line 3) in the second word. It could be used in the middle of the first word (plausible) but it isn’t – the c is used. However ‘ck’ would not be plausible if his name was ‘Clive’. ‘Cklive’ doesn’t look right.


When using the Speedy Six, or if you feel the need to create ‘lists’ please choose words that are meaningful to the class. If investigating the life cycle of a butterfly, then the ‘list’ might look like this (shown in video) It doesn’t matter the age of the student, or their phonics code level ! Get rid of the idea that words are introduced from ‘easy’ to ‘hard’ or should be ‘grade level’ specific. Why? Where did this concept come from? (Has it been working for you?) Please avoid spelling list or random words that have no link to what the students are actually learning about. You will already understand that rote learning is ineffective (boring) and pretty pointless. It doesn’t matter whether they can make the words look pretty, we have far too much to teach and not enough time to test the 250k commonly used words in English.

Again, let’s teach them HOW to spell and work with words, not how to spell single words .


I want to enable every student to learn more than we could imagine them capable of learning. To do this we have to offer a better teaching process. That means trusting in the TEACHING AND LEARNING process, and moving away from anything being standardized and the teacher and student becoming the ones who decide if this is ‘working’ Is the work transferring into the student’s writing? Are they becoming more independent and courageous when writing? Are they becoming more articulate? These are not things students can be easily ‘tested’ for and yet are they not the very things that determine how well they will do when tested!


‘Teach to the test (or follow a one-size fits all program) and we fail to teach. We (as educators) also fail to keep learning. What better way to learn how to teach reading and spelling than to teach students, not programs.’


Miss Emma X

The Spelling Cloud Poems.
There is one for every Spelling Cloud.
Spelling is meaningful and fun!

Spelling Tips from Miss Emma

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