Friday, February 15, 2013

Spelling Stories - Creativity Unleashed!

Have you ever asked your students to write a story with their spelling words? It may not seem like the most original assignment, but the resulting stories are always tremendously creative! In this blog post I'd like to share my rationale for assigning spelling stories, as well as a few tips and a rubric for grading them. I'd also like to share a creative spelling story from a former student that demonstrates how the assignment can be both fun and effective.

Assigning Spelling Stories
Having students write stories with their spelling words may not sound exciting but it's an extremely effective way of assessing how well they understand their spelling words. I recommend starting with spelling sentences before requiring your students to writing complete spelling stories. Here are the basic directions I gave my students; feel free to modify them according to your students's needs:
Use at least 10 of your spelling words in a short creative story. The story can be silly, but it must make sense and must be more than a collection of unrelated sentences. Underline all spelling words used in the story. You may use other forms your spelling words, but be sure to spell them and use them correctly.    
Creativity Unleashed
Because most spelling lists include unrelated words, students must be very creative in order to include at least 10 of the words in the story. I personally don't mind if the stories are short as long as they make sense and meet the requirements. Sometimes the funniest and most creative stories are the shortest ones. I'll bet you have at least one student who likes to take shortcuts on assignments. If your students are like mine, they will write the most creative and hilarious stories just to get the assignment done with the fewest words possible! Click the image on the right to see a story from a former student, Derrick, that is a perfect example of creativity unleashed! He used 14 words in a story that wasn't even a full page long.

Tips for Grading Spelling Stories
Spelling stories can be tricky to grade, but if you're going to grade them, it's important for your students to understand your grading policy. Rubrics are perfect for grading these types of assignments because they keep you from being too subjective. Feel free to download and use my Spelling Story Rubric from the Spelling page on Teaching Resources. Each of the 5 criteria on the rubric can receive up to 5 points. After you assign the points and total them, you can use the scale at the bottom to convert that total to a letter grade. I suggest sharing the rubric with your students and their parents before they write their very first story. You might even want to write a sample story that contains errors and show your students how that story would be graded. Then display Derrick's story example shown above and have your students help you score it with the rubric.

Tips for Sharing Stories
At some point during the writing process, be sure to provide an opportunity for students to share their stories with their classmates. If you have a class blog or website, post the stories online for everyone to read there. Morning meetings and author sharing times are great opportunities for sharing, too. Our favorite time to listen to spelling stories was Friday afternoon when everyone was packed up and we were waiting for the final bell to ring. I would call on volunteers, one at a time, to sit on my teacher stool and share their spelling stories. It was a fun way to wrap up the week and always left us laughing as we walked out the door!


  1. Thanks for all the spelling tips and freebies. Love the story rubric! It will come in handy for my daughter too.

  2. Thank you for all these ideas!! I just found your blog!! Your newest follower, Stephanie

  3. I LOVE your Spelling Story idea! I'm using Spelling Stories in my fifth grade classroom with all students showing proficiency in basic sentence writing skills. I will now add your Spelling Rubric,one thing I've not yet done. I've created a Spelling Sentence Rubric, using yours as a starter. I also altered the grading scale as our district uses Standard-Based Grading. If you would like my rubrics, please let me know how I can get them to you.

    Thank you again for yet another wonderful resource!


    1. Thanks, Jan! I would love to see your rubric and you can send it to me at

  4. I have never thought of doing something like this. What a creative idea! I am going to have to think about how we can adapt this idea in my room (no spelling lists...but we do use Roots...hummmm)

    Teaching in Room 6

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! I'm sure you'll come up with some creative twist on this!

  5. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas..they make lessons so interesting!!!

  6. What an awesome idea!!! I LOVE it! Thanks so much for sharing!!


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