10 Manipulatives to Practice ANY Spelling List

10 manipulatives to practice any spelling list

Y’all– my daughter LOVES to spell.  As in, spelling is hands down her favorite subject in school.  She’s actually told me that when she grows up, she wants to teach other people how to spell.

Needless to say, I am pretty excited about her love for spelling.  Each week, I give her a new list of spelling words.  Each list has seven or eight words on it.  I have created a list of spelling activities that we can use to practice any list that I hand her.  Each day, she chooses a few things to do from this list and we use those activities to practice her words.

I have had really good success with this.  It gives her some power over what we’re doing, which makes her feel important.  It also makes spelling more hands-on and less copy work, which I think enables her to learn better.

Throughout our spelling journey, I have discovered some amazing manipulatives that we turn to constantly.  I wanted to share some of our favorite ones with you so that you’ll have a fantastic pool of resources that you can use to work on your child’s spelling words as well.

1. Educational Insights Lowercase Jumbo Alphabet Stamps

I actually bought these stamps well before Raileigh was actually working on spelling lists.  Originally, we used them to work on alphabet recognition and her name.  Now, we use them at least once a week to practice her spelling words.  These stamps can be used for so much more than simply stamping out the words {though… that it is really fun, too!}.  Sometimes, we’ll stamp all the vowels in one color and all the consonants in another.  We’ve also been known to break out the play dough and make impressions in the dough as opposed to using ink.

2. Fox Run 26-Piece Alphabet Cookie Cutter Set

I think that a good set of ABC cookie cutters is such an asset.  If you’d like, head to the kitchen and whip up a tasty batch of alphabet cookies.  That’s sure to be the tastiest spelling practice ever!  However, our alphabet cookie cutters are generally kept with the art supplies because that’s where they are most often used.  You can dip the cookie cutters in paint and make impressions of the letters on paper.  You can also use the cookie cutters to cut out play dough and spell your words.

3. Lower Case Letter Beads

These lowercase letter beads might be Raileigh’s favorite spelling manipulative.  I paired them with a pretty pack of pipe cleaners and she’ll sit and string words for hours.  Often, when she gets done with her spelling list, she’ll move on to other words that she knows.  I like these beads because they are larger than alphabet beads you’d find on the aisle at a craft store and it’s easy for her to string them onto the pipe cleaners with no issues.  If there is a word your child is having a problem with, simply twist the pipe cleaner into a bracelet and they can wear the trouble word on their wrist for the day!

4. Bendaroos Mega Pack

This is actually a manipulative I didn’t add into spelling for a few weeks after school started.  I simply didn’t think of all the many ways it could be an asset to spelling!  In case you aren’t familiar with Bendaroos, they are sticks covered in something like a colored wax and can be bent into almost any shape you can imagine.  They stick together well, yet pull apart easily, and can even be cut into smaller pieces.  The Bendaroos are perfect to bend into letters and help children really see how letters are formed as well.  You can make each word a different color or use a separate color for vowels and consonants.

5. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Alphabet

This is another one of those manipulatives that we had long before we can began practicing spelling words.  I love this particular set because it comes with both uppercase and lowercase letters.  If you have a fridge with a magnetic front, then you have the perfect surface to practice a spelling list with these magnets.  However, if you’re like us and your fridge doesn’t have a magnetic front, pick up a cheap cookie sheet at the dollar store.  It’s magnetic and portable, meaning that you can even take your wooden alphabet on-the-go!

6. Scrabble Tiles

These oh-so familiar Scrabble tiles might just be my favorite spelling tool.  You see, they also throw MATH into the mix, so it’s like getting two subjects in one!  Raileigh spells out her words using the Scrabbles tiles, then adds to see how much each word is worth by adding the points together on the bottom corner of each tile.  In the end, we like to see which word is worth the most.  This is a simple activity, but it’s a whole lot of fun.

7. Crayola Dual-Sided Dry Erase Board + Dry Erase Crayons

Raileigh received this as a birthday gift last year, and before that I didn’t even know it existed!  I am so glad an awesome friend sent this our way though, because we have used it a ton.  This is essentially mess-free {unlike dry erase markers} and the crayons wipe off really easily.  Raileigh is always intrigued when she gets to write with something different, so this really keeps her focused and happy while she writes out her spelling words.  Choose to write three letter words in one color, four letter words in another.  Or, simply write each word or letter in one of the eight included color options.  Other than spelling, you can use it for doodling, math facts, and more, so it’s a really versatile product!

8. Uncle Goose Braille ABC & American Sign Language Wooden Blocks

We’ve been through several sets of blocks, and hands down I love these the most.  They offer THREE different types of letters– braille, American sign language, and your traditional alphabet as well.  Sometimes, when Raileigh spells her words with these blocks, she will only use one type of letters.  Other times, she mixes them together.  What I really love is how much she has picked up on the sign language alphabet just from playing with these blocks.  She can actually spell many words in sign now, which I think is amazing.  Of course, when spelling is over, the blocks make fantastic towers as well.

9. Lettering Stencil Ruler Set

Raileigh has been intrigued by stencils since she was little.  However, only recently has she developed the skill and coordination to really use them well.  This stencil set is awesome because it comes with both lowercase and uppercase letters.  That way, if there happens to be a proper noun or if she’d like to spell her name, she can do it properly.  Sometimes, we’ll use these stencils with a regular pencil and sometimes with colored pencils– just to shake things up.  Plus, the fact that they are transparent makes it easier for her to line up the words as she stencils them.

10. RoseArt A-Z Alphabet Stamper Markers

I originally bought these because I thought they looked fun for me to play with.  But, I quickly realized how they would be even more awesome as a spelling manipulative!  The markers have the letters easily identified on them, so Raileigh just chooses the one she needs and stamps away!  The spelling words look colorful when complete, which is a nice added bonus.  The markers are also washable, which is another perk we like.  We’ve also been known to choose the markers representing our initials and stamp a colorful collage just for fun.


Of course, there are many other things you can use to practice spelling words.  These are just some of the things that we most enjoy.  I truly believe that making spelling a hands-on activity helps with focus, retention, and overall learning.

I’d love to know about any spelling manipulatives you enjoy.  We’re always looking for new ways to learn!

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