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Keys to Spelling: Sounds and Syllables

Summary of Lessons

Keys to Spelling




Keys to Spelling: Sounds and Syllables  (for beginners)


Workbook for native and non-native speakers.  (PDF format workbook licensed by this author for use under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International)

Page Activities

  • Identify the key word sound in pictures.  (Beginners)
  • Identify words with the sound. (Beg. – Int.)
  • Review Spelling Patterns: Common→Uncommon
  • Write the word in the picture. (Beginners)
  • Complete the word in the sentence. (Beginners)
  • Complete the word in the sentence/paragraph. (Beginners)
  • Find the misspellings in the paragraph. (Beg. – Int.)
  • Change word forms with suffixes. (Beg. – Int.)
  • Compare homonyms and words with final "e".
  • Write visual descriptions of pictures. (Beg. – Int.)


  • Demonstrate what you know about spelling the sound (Pre-test).
  • Distinguish the keyword sound from other sounds. (audio)
  • Identify keyword sound next to other similar sounds.
  • Observe common spelling patterns and where they occur.
  • Note words that do not follow common patterns.
  • Apply learned patterns to word completion for pictures.
  • Apply learned patterns to word completion of sentences.
  • Apply learned patterns to writing descriptions of pictures.
  • Check progress of spelling the sound (Post Test).
  • Learn strategies for spelling unstressed vowel sounds.
  • Identify and note words you commonly misspell.
  • Explore handwriting styles — printed vs. cursive

Keys to Spelling: Sounds and Syllables

Workbook Pages(Download and Print)

Introduction Introduction to Speller (345KB PDF)

cakeLesson 1—Long a as in "cake" /keɪk/ (1.6MB PDF)

catLesson 2—Short a as in "cat" /kæt/ (1.6MB PDF)

teaLesson 3—Long e as in "tea" /ti/ (1.7MBPDF)

bedLesson 4—Short e as in "bed" /bɛd/ (1.2MB PDF)

pieLesson 5—Long i as in "pie" /paɪ/ (4.11MB PDF)

pigLesson 6—Short i as in "pig" /pɪg/ (1.85MB PDF)

homeLesson 7—Long o as in "home" /hom/ (1.6MB PDF)

hotdogLesson 8—Short o as in "hotdog" /ˈhɒtˌdɔg / (2.4MB PDF)

blueberriesLesson 9 – Long u as in "blue" /blu/ (1.6 MB PDF)

sunLesson 10 – Short u as in "sun" /sʌn/ (1.65 MB PDF)

bookLesson 11 – Lax u as in "book" /bʊk/ (1.1 MB PDF)

toysLesson 12—Diphthong oi as in "toys" /tɔɪz/ (1.1 MB PDF)

cowLesson 13—Diphthong ow as in "cow" /kɑʊ/  (1.1 MB PDF)

bananaLesson 14— "Schwa" /ə/ as in "banana" /bəˈnæn ə/ (1.9 MB PDF)

desert dessertLesson 15—Commonly Misspelled Words  e.g., desert, dessert (3 MB PDF)

Commonly Misspelled Word List  (148K PDF)

Illustrations by Chelsea Martinez (are marked in "Image Credits".)

Cursive Handwriting Practice Pages





Printable Worksheets