Levels of Spelling Development

There are many times when we refer to levels of difficulty in teaching spelling. The table below is intended to offer the reader a general idea of vowel patterns and how mastery of basic patterns forms scaffolds on which higher levels of words can be built. As children (and adults) learn to spell, the general pattern is to gradually progress both down and across from words in the upper left-hand corner of the chart and move toward the lower right-hand corner.

Levels of Difficulty
Vowel Pattern 1 2 3 4
Short


S


mat
bed
him
bent
drips
chest
matted
betting
chopper
mattress
instructed
chipmunk
Long


L


like
maid
seat
homes
trade
wreath
shaking
trainer
healed
mistake
statement
reveal
Complex


C


loud
lawn
far
haunt
clowns
shark
trawling
owner
thwarted
awful
boundary
destroying

Classification of Words into Categories

Level I: S1 + S2 (Green area) = Easy words which spell themselves. These include short vowels with single consonants and blends; also simple plurals and verb forms ending with s.

Level II: L1 (Blue area) = Regular long vowel patterns with only single consonant beginning and ending sounds.

Level III: S3 + L2 + L3 + C1 + C2 (Yellow area) = Complex vowel patterns including vowel digraphs, diphthongs and r-controlled vowels. Includes consonant blends, consonant digraphs, simple plurals, and verb forms ending with s. It also includes inflected endings -ed, -er, -es, and -ing on long and short vowel words.

Level IV: S3 + L4 + C3 + C4 (Red area) = Inflected endings on complex vowel base words and polysyllabic words using all vowel patterns.

Level V: Sight words = Those words that do not fit any regular pronunciation patterns within the categories listed (Not included here).

Back to Free Resources
Back to Site Map
Back to Home Page