Pop can spelling shootout


My first-grader has had a showdown several times with his spelling words. He has even requested the pop can spelling shootout—asking for additional spelling practice.

One of the coolest things my six-year old owns is his repeating rubber band gun. We load six or seven rubber bands on it at a time, so he can shoot seven times rapidly without reloading. Very boy. Well, let’s face it. It’s fun no matter who you are. My niece once shot a fly off the wall with one, and my husband likes to shoot me, the dog, or actually anything with it.

I set up soda cans on a flat railing and taped one letter of one of my son’s spelling words to each can. For each word set up, my son had to read it out loud, then say each letter in the word as he shot the can off the ledge. The rubber band gun packs enough punch to make a satisfying ping and knock each can off the ledge.

Three notes: This setup also works very well with Nerf guns. It is much less frustrating if set up close to a wall and not over a stairway to make it easy to find the ammo. If your child is young, it may take some practice before he is able to hit the pop can letters off the ledge with one shot each. The first time he tried, my boy emptied the gun on just the first letter. But at least he didn’t mind the practice!

Here are two short videos of his first attempts. In later sessions, his aim improved, as did our technique. We even recruited my toddler for searching for and retrieving lost ammo, which for some reason, he found to be great fun. It was a win-win-win situation!

Here are four other ways he has practiced his spelling lately:

1) Chalkboard spelling


2) Secret spy spelling


I got this idea from another blog long forgotten, and our technique leaves something to be desired. My first-grader wrote his spelling words in white crayon on white paper, forcing him to really concentrate, since you can’t see what or where you have written. Then, he painted watercolors over each word, making the secret words appear white on a blue background. They could be recognized and compared to the correct spelling if he concentrated.


3) Bathtub crayons

We do not have actual bathtub crayons, but as I suspected, regular crayons work just fine. A word of advice: make sure you don’t have hard water residue on the shower walls or it will make it ten times more difficult to clean. Just the idea of writing on walls makes spelling practice this way feel deliciously naughty.


4) Matchbox parking lot sight words


At the beginning of the week, before ever beginning to practice spelling, we treat my six-year old’s words as sight words and practice recognizing them. This fun idea is borrowed from numerous Pinterest posts. I recycled a worksheet and measured out and drew a parking lot on the back side.


The parking spots should each be two inches wide and about three inches long to hold a car. Our center aisle was too narrow and should be about three inches wide so as not to hit the back side of other parked cars. I wrote one sight word in each parking spot, then to make setup simple, I wrote each word on a tiny Post-It note to stick to the top of a car.


My son then read the word off the top of the car and drove it into the parking lot, parking it on top of the matching word. He then emptied the parking lot using the same method, getting double the practice. And to top it off, my toddler can use the parking lot for pretending and hand-eye coordination. Another win-win-win!

* For detail about how I organize and change my first-grader’s spelling practice throughout the week, visit my first spelling post, Spelling fun-really!

* For other fun and active spelling ideas, see my Karate Spelling post.

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