How Do You Spell House?

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Students will be able to spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.

Big Idea

Writing about the type of dwelling they live in allows student to practice inventive spelling.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

Once the students are sitting on the rug I hold up one of a series of pictures of different kinds of houses from around the world. I use the images of different homes from the Sparkle Box website.  

I prefer to start with something the students would recognize like a standard suburban house as that is what is most recognizable in our area. I feel this helps students build confidence and a certain comfort level before moving onto some unfamiliar types of houses/homes. “What type of building is this?” We discuss the type of building it is and where we might find this type of house. We also discuss some of the shapes we see in the house, colors, and other features.

After we have gone through the pictures of the different styles of homes from around the world, I explain to the students that we are going to read a book about some very unusual homes. 


35 minutes

“This story is called A House is a House For Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman. If she is the author of the story, what did she do?” Hopefully a student will raise their hand and state that she wrote the words, if not then tell the students that the author’s job is to write the words of the story.

“The illustrator is Betty Fraser. If she is the illustrator what was her job?” Hopefully a student will raise their hand and tell you that she drew the pictures. If not then explain to the students how the illustrator’s job is to draw the pictures to support the author’s words.  

“Looking at the cover of this book I see lots of different things. Does anyone have any ideas of some houses we might see in this book?” I use the fair sticks to select students to respond and I only take a couple of replies to this question as I do not want to lose my audience’s attention.

Now I go ahead and read the book. It does not take too long for the students to notice the rhythm and rhyme that makes up the story. I will often pause before giving away some of the words to see if any of the students will jump in with the appropriate rhyming word.


When the book is over I tell the students that their assignment is to complete the "I live in a ...." writing prompt

“Today boys and girls you are going to try and complete the prompt all by yourself. I want you to use what you know about letter sounds to tap out the sounds and then try to write the word without using any assistance.”

I go over some of the words we have tapped out using our fingers in previous phonics lessons.

Tapping Out


Once I feel the students understand the concept of what is being asked of them I prepare to send them over to the work station tables. “At the work station you will find the writing prompt. What is the first thing you will do?” Hopefully someone will remember the first thing they need to do is write their name at the top of the paper. “You do not need to write the date because we have the date stamp. Use it to date your work.”

“Make sure you tap out your sounds slowly and use your best handwriting so the reader can understand your work. Make sure your illustration matches your words and is detailed so the reader gets a clear picture in their head of what you are writing about.”

Now I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some home writing fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Give the students about 15 minutes to get this assignment done. Remind the students they can look at the visual timer to check how much time they have left. 

Students working

The importance of Phonetic Spelling


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

I remind students to put their completed work in the “completed work” bin and those that are not complete go into the “under construction” bin.  

It is interesting to look and listen to how students justify the sounds they hear within a word. It is important to discuss the letters the student chose to represent the sounds they hear within a word.

Sample of a complete piece of work                    One way to spell house

Another way to spell house                                Yet another way

A closer view                                                       The most common way


Once everyone is seated on their spot I tell the students that their “exit slip” to get their snack is to tell me one unusual home and who it is a home for.  

"Room 203 your exit ticket for today is to tell me one unusual home that you know of. Once you have told me your home, you can use the hand sanitizer and walk over to get your snack."

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

If a student has difficulty telling me a home, then they can do one of two things:

  1. They can ask a  friend for help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone is gone and we will work on coming up with a home together. 

I use this exit ticket process to close out the lesson and also to give the students a discussion topic to talk about during snack time.  


5 minutes

For this assignment I would place a copy of the student’s work with the Dwelling Spelling checklist in his/her portfolio to illustrate whether the student was able to meet the objective or not. The checklist is a valuable way to show the student's family how he/she is doing in the classroom. 

Call the each student over during a time which fits into your classroom schedule. I call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

Have the student look at each home on the Inventive Spelling Skill Check. Ask them to tell you what it is. If they do not know, tell them. “This first picture is a house. The second is a hut, and the third picture is of a castle.” Now tell the student to “tap out” the sounds he/she hears and write down those sounds to label the picture. Place this sample in the student’s working portfolio. 


Have the student use recyclable materials to make a house. This is a free choice activity where the students can explore what each material offers. When they are done take a picture of their work and ask the student to explain why they chose to use the materials they did. Make an anecdotal recording of what they tell you.


I like to read the book Houses and Homes, by Ann Morris. This is a great non-fiction book with detailed pictures and not too much text. If you are looking for more descriptions about the homes then go to the index at the back of the book.


Another great book is Wonderful Houses Around the World, by Yoshio Komatsu. This one is a little wordy for kindergarten but you can at least take a picture walk and discuss what you see.


The Kid World Citizen website also has some great activities and even online games using homes from around the world.