Year 1 Spelling Challenge: The Ultimate Vocab List


  1. Pre- Challenge: The motivation
  2. The tournament: How it works
  3. Challenge 1: Short A’s and O’s
  4. Challenge 2: Short I’s and U’s
  5. Challenge 3: Mixed vowels


Back to school season is here! Which means frantic last minute shops and easing your kids back into a routine. Going back to school also means getting back to the joys of learning.


We know that kids learn best when they're having fun. 🎯  For students in Year 1, we're even more aware of what a big time this is and how important the fundamental lessons are. 




On the other hand, everyone knows that 6 year old's are more keen to play games than hit the books. So what if we told you you can do both? Language learning during the early years is super important. From phonics to grammar to spelling.


English can be a funny little language when it comes to spelling. You can thank the mix of French, Germanic and even Scandinavian for that! For this reason, it’s important to implement little challenges to get kids interested in spelling. Click here for our top tips.


🏃‍♀️ Pre- Challenge: The motivation


Let’s face it- especially in the distance learning age, getting kids excited to learn can be difficult. The early years of school, like Year 1, are vital when it comes to segmenting knowledge. It's not only about creating an eagerness to learn, which is obviously important, but also getting them used to various ways of learning.


For some kids, a flashcard and a textbook will work wonders. For others, bright colours and pictures do the trick. There is no one right or wrong way to learn, but there are ways to make learning both productive and fun! 


Year 1 students are at the phase where spelling starts to become a thing. This can be quite jarring for little ones, who have probably become used to just scribbling some stuff with crayons. 🖊️


At this age, kids start to learn that there are rules when they write down words. They're also learning that there are some patterns when it comes to the way words sound and the way they are spelled. Therefore, spelling challenges are a fantastic way to get the phonetic learning started while segmenting correct spelling! 


The hard part: Motivation! Getting students to want to play games that are just disguises for studying can be a challenge. They see right through you sometimes. But here we present you with game and challenge that's super learning-oriented, but also fun if implemented like a tournament!


✍🏼 The tournament: How it works


It’s kind of like a workout- but with words! Here we will have 4 challenges that are geared towards learning short vowels specifically. Don’t be scared to re-work this and change it to long vowels or consonant clusters. It all depends on what you think your child might need most practice in.


The goal is to get your child to memorize the words in the list. Depending on their preferred learning style, you could incorporate things like flash cards, movement or even musical instruments to add some rhythm to the patterns.


Once the patterns and sounds of each word have been memorized, you can start to focus on things like spelling and handwriting. The repetition of writing out these words with similar sounds will enable kids to identify patterns and individual letters. 


For Year 1 students, short vowels are a great place to start because the words are short, used by the kids themselves and develop a pattern. 


Each challenge deals with two short vowels and each challenge has 3 rounds, with one ‘lightning’ round. Why not try using the lightning round as a motivator? If your child is doing a really good job and you want to add a little challenge at the end, or if they need some extra motivation, it's time to break out the lightning round. The lightning round can also be where you incorporate a little prize. 


Go through each of the challenges below round by round and implement the learning strategy that works the best. This can be written in big colors or on a small pad. Play how you feel makes most sense!


Here are the challenges: 


🏸 Challenge 1: Short A’s and O’s




  • Round 1: an, can, man, plan, than


  • Round 2: plan, than, that, flat, dad, had


  • Round 3: As, has, map, tap


  • Lightning round: glad, clap, raft, ask





  • Round 1: got, hot, pot, mop, top, hop


  • Round 2: stop, shot, shop, slot


  • Round 3: frog, chop, clog, knot


  • Lightning round: fox, box, on, dog, log, not



🏸 Challenge 2: Short I’s and U’s




  • Round 1: it, sit, hit, in, pin, 


  • Round 2: win, slit, quit, chin, spin


  • Round 3: dig, pig, did, hid, his


  • Lightning round: his, slid, twig, with, skin





  • Round 1: bug, hug, tug, fun, sun, run


  • Round 2: snug, spun, chug, hunt


  • Round 3: up, cup, but, cut, us, bus


  • Lightning round: plus, shut, drum, scrub



🏸  Challenge 2: Short E’s


  • Round 1: get, let, pet, men, ten, hen


  • Round 2: yet, when, vent, then, bed, red, 


  • Lightning round: leg, peg went, tent, sled, elf, next, cent



🏸 Challenge 3: Mixed vowels




  • Round 1: mad, ran, am, sip, six


  • Round 2: bit, slam, flip, swim, clam



  • Round 1: pop, dot, hog, fog, mud
  • Round 2: Nut, flop, trot, thud, shrug



Did you have fun with these educational challenges? We hope this little list helps inspire you to think of new ways to challenge vocab learning in a fun way! If your children need some extra reading and writing tips, why not book a trial lesson with one of our experienced tutors at GoStudent? They are here for you, from wherever, to help. 

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