Karate Spelling: Active spelling practice, week 2


Okay, I will admit up front that I know nothing about karate, or any other martial art, for that matter, so what we call karate is the general hi-ya chop or kick movement–horribly inaccurate but terribly fun. What I do know is that my boys love to kick, hit, and knock things down, so to expend some energy, add in a lot of fun, and get some homework done at the same time, I set up a karate word recognition tower.

PlayKarate1Every week, I make flash cards on 3×5 in. note cards, so I already had words written out. I grabbed some old cardboard shoe boxes and other small boxes from the closet and the recycling, and taped the note cards to different sides with Scotch tape. From there, it was simple. I called out a word, and my first-grader found it and karate chopped or kicked it, sending boxes flying across the living room.


At one point, my toddler helped set up the towers, running to snatch up the boxes scattered around the room, but I had to catch him quickly or he would knock down the tower again before it was fully built. We ended up taking turns, something my first-grader didn’t even get annoyed about, because it was so much fun watching the toddler giggle and shriek as the boxes toppled. My husband sat in the recliner, rolling his eyes, but he couldn’t resist knocking down the tower–twice! We all actually had so much fun with this one that we will definitely do it again–with or without the words, or maybe with math facts.

I have to give a big shout out to frugalfun4boys.com and her post, Six Indoor Active Games for Preschoolers. One of the six games she wrote about was Ninja Box Kick-Down, the basis for our Karate Spelling.

This week’s other active spelling practice:

* As I explained in my Corny fun post, allowing a child to practice writing a word without size, spacing and neatness boundaries allows early writers to concentrate more on the spelling and somewhat the letter formation than on the fine muscle movements needed to write small with pencil on paper.

1) AquaDoodle 

PlayKarate6   PlayKarate5

My six-year old received an AquaDoodle for Christmas last year and hadn’t used it in a while, so pulling it out for spelling not only gave him a large canvas for his writing, it also offered novelty. Both boys stuck around to draw and have fun with the AquaDoodle after the spelling practice was finished. If you haven’t seen one before, you fill the marker with water and write with it on the special mat, which shows color through from the layer behind. When it dries, your drawings disappear, giving you a blank canvas to work with again.

2) Chalkboard

PlayKarate11   PlayKarate12

The chalkboard offers two ways to practice in one. My son wrote each word in chalk, then wet a Q-Tip in a cup and held it like a pencil and erased the word with the water, so he actually practiced the words twice.

3) Foam bath letters


Since my first-grader was three, he has played with foam letters in the bathtub, so we pulled them out and lined them up in alphabetical order to make it easier to find the right letters. After spelling each word, he put the letters back in the alphabet, also helping him practice the alphabet out of order, picking it up in the middle. Make sure to leave plenty of time for the bath, or do it when the bath is not needed for cleaning, because depending on the child’s ability, looking for the letters and putting them back may take some time.

4) Dry erase windows


I have written in dry erase marker on the windows in the past, so I pulled from my old playbook and let my first-grader write his spelling words on our window one evening. Keep tissues handy for erasers, and watch the markers near wood trim, especially unvarnished wood. One drawback: the marker was a little hard to see at night, so you may want to consider the background–looking toward open skies would be the best background.

*To see my weekly plan for how to progress from learning to recognize and read the spelling words to being able to spell them to being able to write them correctly, see my first spelling post, Spelling fun, really!

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