5 Easy Tips on teaching Tricky Words at home + Free Printable!

5 Easy Tips on teaching Tricky Words at home + Free Printable!

Are you homeschooling or following up your 4-6 year old child’s learning at home? Do you find there are some words they find difficult to read or spell? These are tricky words! They are tricky because most of the time we cannot phonetically spell them out nor do they follow any particular spelling patterns.


Here are my 5 top tips on teaching Tricky Words at home!

1.Display those tricky words! First things first, make yourself a tricky word display. We have put up a tricky word wall at home. When I was teaching in primary schools, I always had a tricky word tree on display in my classroom. So whatever works for you and your child, go for that – there are plenty of ideas to choose from including – Space theme: tricky word alien invasion, Jungle Theme – tricky word animals etc.


2.Explain what they are! They are called tricky words because they are tricky to spell. When I first started building our tricky word wall, Ammarah (my 4 and a half year old daughter) asked me – “Mama, why are you sticking these words up?” And I explained in simple terms. “These are really special words, so we have to display them. They are called tricky words because they are tricky to spell! You won’t be able to sound them out” After having said all this, she took the tricky words really seriously.


3.Learn through games! People always ask what’s the best way to teach tricky words? And my response is vary how you teach them. For example at the beginning, we simply chanted them as we were introducing them. Then we moved on to simple games: for example, Can you find me…the tricky word “the” for example. You can also play: tricky word bingo, tricky word matching pairs (with 2 sets of the same tricky words), a treasure hunt and my fave is fishing for tricky words! In fact whatever is your child’s favourite way of learning, incorporate the tricky words into it!


4.Apply in writing! Write them down during handwriting practise sessions and most importantly as they are in their early stages of writing, use them in their sentences. For example we have been focusing on the trick word-have, so we used it in the sentence below. Similarly we recap over the words the children are constantly mixing up and we take it slow. We focus on tricky word teaching at least once a week.

5.Highlight tricky words on post it notes before reading a book that has those tricky words in them. Use your reading sessions – even bedtime stories, if you’re like me – as teaching points for tricky words. It becomes so natural, and most of the time you may just find your child remembers how they are spelt just because they have across the word so often in reading.


Below is our recent video on the series Tuesday Teaching Tips which was dedicated to Tricky Words. Watch to find the tips mentioned above in action plus a few more details!



To download your own tricky word coloured bricks from Twinkl, click here – You will need to sign up to Twinkl to download and print these. Alternatively you can incorporate it into a arts and craft activity, cut up brown card as bricks and print out the tricky words and stick on top. You could even finish by laminating them.


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