Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Yesterday was my last day in Early Years for a while after five years of spending my days with kids below five! This September I am due to be teaching Year 2 in Rome and since it will be my first experience with this year group I have been doing lots of research on the UK’s Year 2 curriculum and today’s focus is spelling!
Maybe you want to keep your kids' spelling skills sharp over the Summer holidays or maybe they are heading to year 2 this autumn like me and you want to get a headstart. Either way, I’m going to put together what I have learned in this post so that parents can understand a bit more about spellings for year 2 and how to help kids with spelling at home.
Year 2 Spelling Words
The first key thing to know that I have found out is that there are no specific spelling words that are required in year 2.
Instead, the requirement in year 2 is that kids are introduced to some specific spelling rules, patterns and common exceptions and that they practice spelling age-appropriate words where these rules apply.
Year 2 spelling rule example
So an example of one of the rules required in year 2 is learning to spell words where the /r/ sound is spelt ‘wr’ at the beginning. Some examples of words that kids might learn to spell when introduced to this rule are: write, written, wrote, wrong, wrap.
Because there are no specific spelling words for year 2 that are required by the UK National Curriculum, parents and teachers are instead given suggestions for each of the rules that are required to be covered as you can see in the screenshot above. (Read the full document yourself here.)
So - there are mandatory rules to be learned in year 2 and suggested examples of words that fit these rules.
Age-appropriate spellings for year 2
You might be wondering why we don’t just find any and all words that fit any of the rules to teach to year 2 kids for spellings. The answer is that not all words that fit each rule will be age-appropriate. So in the example that I used above - not every single word in the English language that begins with wr will be considered age-appropriate for 6-7 years old.
Important areas of spelling in year 2
Now a few of the spelling rules that must be covered in year two can apply to hundreds of different words that kids will need to read often.
Plenty of time is spent on understanding and practising using the following specific types of words:
Words ending in -tion
Common Exception Words
There are thousands of examples of these kinds of words in the English language but the National Curriculum helps grown-ups teach 6-7-year-olds about them for the first time by starting with the very basics for spelling with each of these types of words.
For example, when kids first learn about suffixes, they don’t just learn to spell any words that have a suffix. Instead, in year 2 they only learn how to add five specific suffixes using a general rule and a rule for words ending in y that have two syllables or more. This helps kids understand suffixes and start to use them without being overwhelmed or confused by many rules and exceptions.
Note about revising previous spelling
Bear in mind that everything I have mentioned so far is new learning for kids in year 2. During year 2 kids should also recap on what they have learned before. The National Curriculum even points out that many of the example words for year 2 contain GPCs that kids would have learned in year 1 and so learning these will help to recap on what they learned in year 1.
What does GPC stand for?
Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Phonemes are sounds that make up words and graphemes are ways that these sounds are written. Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence, or GPC, is knowing the different graphemes that match different phonemes. Remember graphemes can be made of up to four letters.
So, now I’m going to go through each of the required spelling rules for year 2, explain what it means and give some examples.
What suffixes do year 2 need to know?
In year 2 kids learn the following five suffixes:
Rules for how kids add suffixes in year 2
Normal pattern: If suffix starts with a consonant-> add the suffix straight on to the end of the root word
For example: colour + ful -> colourful
Exception: Words ending in y with two or more syllables -> take off the y and add i + the suffix
For example: happy -> happy + i + ness -> happiness.
How do you explain a root word?
To help kids understand what a root word is you could point out:
That a root word is a word that doesn’t have a suffix or a prefix added on
That the meaning of a root word can be changed by adding a prefix or a suffix
Basic examples like happy -> unhappy where the root word is happy.
That one root word could have lots of different prefixes or suffixes added to change what it means. For example: happiness & unhappy
Examples for suffixes in year 2
The National Curriculum example spellings for year 2 suffixes that follow the normal pattern are:
plainness (plain + ness)
More words for year 2 kids learning to spell words with a suffix
Remember that these examples are not specifically required but the two rules for adding suffixes are. There are loads more examples of spellings that kids can practice that also help to learn the same rules such as loveliness, mournful, luckless, fruitful, entertainment and raininess.
Keeping spellings age-appropriate
If you can’t think of any examples to do with your child at home - just try doing a Google search for ‘words ending in ___’. Just remember to keep the words you choose age-appropriate by not picking words that have exceptional spellings or words that kids might struggle to understand the meaning of.
What is a contraction in year 2?
A contraction or a contracted word is a word that is made by putting two words together. An example would be ‘it’s’ which is a contraction of ‘it’ and ‘is’.
Contraction words for year 2
The UK National Curriculum suggests the following contraction words for 6-7-year-olds:
Apostrophes for contractions
The simple rule for spelling contractions is that the apostrophe is put in place of the letter or letters that are taken out. For example: Could not -> could + not -> could + ‘ + nt -> couldn’t
Kids in year 2 will learn how to use a possessive apostrophe in singular nouns by simple adding ‘s.
This could include a name (Sonia -> Sonia’s) or it could be another singular noun (the cat -> the cat’s)
Examples for using the possessive apostrophe given in the National Curriculum are:
Words ending in -tion
In year 2 kids simply need to know how to pronounce the -tion sound (shun) and how to spell words that end in -tion. Here are example words that the National Curriculum suggests:
Homophones & Near-Homophones
What is a homophone for kids?
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. My first question about homophones was ‘Can homophones be spelt the same?’ - but upon further research, I found that no, homophones sound the same but have different meanings and are spelt differently.
Did you know that words that sound the same and are spelt the same but with different meanings are called Homographs? (Like tear and tear.) And both Homographs and Homophones are types of Homonyms! 🤓
Anyway - so homophones could include words that only have one letter’s difference but completely different meanings - like alms and arms for example. Homophones can also be spelt quite differently but sound the same - for example: which and witch.
What are near-homophones?
Near homophones are words that sound similar but not the same. For example: effect and affect.
Suggested homophones to learn in year 2
Here are the homophones and near-homophones that are suggested in the UK National Curriculum for year 2 children:
Common Exception Words
The last part in the spelling section of the national curriculum for year 2 is the common exception words. These are words which don’t fit in with the usual rules and words where certain sounds may be pronounced differently in different accents.
Again the curriculum doesn’t specify a required set of common exception words to be learned however they do list 64 suggestions. I found this brilliant PDF list of common exception words for year 2 by Oxford Owl which includes the suggestions from the National Curriculum.
All Suggested Year 2 Spelling Words PDF - 240 Words
I put together all the words suggested spelling words for year 2 from the National curriculum on a PDF which you can open here. This includes examples of words for each rule that kids learn in year 2 including words with suffixes, contraction words, homophones - everything. There are 240 words altogether, clearly written in black and white, perfect for printing or having as a digital download on your device.
Practice year 2 spellings online
I put the same list of suggested spellings for year 2 into a Flippity spelling activity for kids to use to practice these words online. This activity works well on a computer, iPad or mobile and helps kids learn spellings suggested by the National Curriculum by listening to the audio of each word and then typing in the correct spelling.
To play just click here and then click on 'Year 2 Spellings' and choose 'Practice' to get started!
UK National Curriculum for English
The majority of the information in this post came from the Year 2 section (pg. 7-10) in Appendix 1: Spelling from English UK National Curriculum for English. You can read the full document yourself here.
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