Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spelling DooRiddles

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My eldest son is an advanced reader; however, this has not translated into advanced spelling. I wanted to find a fun way for him to learn to spell, without endless spelling lists or constant correction from Mom. So, when I read about DooRiddles, I thought we’d give it a try.

As the title implies, DooRiddles contains riddles, and these riddles encourage the reader to figure out two words. For example, the riddle on the cover is:

I am a garden pest,
And haul my
house with me;
But if you
drop the N,
I push the
boat at sea.

The answers are “snail” and “sail.” By using associative reasoning, reading comprehension, and spelling skills, the reader figures out the answers.

At first, my son was hesitant to start. It was something new, and it wasn’t math, so he was unsure. Now, it sits on our coffee table and is one of the books he chooses to work on three or four times a week. In fact, he checked out the back cover and asked for more from the series.  High praise, indeed!

Although he does the riddles mostly on his own, I do check them every now and then to find any repeated errors, but for the most part, it is self-correcting. If he knows how to spell one word, he can figure out the other. If he can’t figure out either, he comes to me and I give him hints.

One of the aspects I like is that the answers do not always rhyme, which I believe helps readers to works through English’s complicated spelling. For instance, the answers to one riddle are “even” and “seven.” They certainly do not rhyme, but they are visually the same. (Actually, it is a good starting point for discussing visual rhyming in poetry, if one is so inclined--but that’s just the English major in me.)

And just in case, the answers are included. But unlike most book, they are in the front, which I find leads to less peeking. Go figure!

Here’s a riddle for you (with apologies):

My authors’ names
May remind you of a man
Who to animals could talk;
But replace what is small
With what is puzzling
And you have spelling book
At which your children won’t balk!

By John H. Doolittle and Tracy A. Doolittle
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Critical Thinking Co (January 2, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0894559044
ISBN-13: 978-0894559044
List Price: $10.99 (available used)

Article by Sarah J. Wilson

This article was originally published in the April 2009 issue of "California HomeSchooler."

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