Mnemonic Spelling Devices

Mnemonic Spelling Devices

Teaching upper elementary students how to spell can be challenging, but mnemonic spelling devices can make the process more engaging and memorable. Mnemonic devices are clever techniques that help students remember the spelling of tricky words. In this blog post, I will discuss a variety of effective methods that teachers can use to enhance their spelling lessons.

I have compiled a list of mnemonic devices and catchy phrases you can share with your students. The handout includes additional samples. Feel free to download the printable copy for easy reference.

Mnemonic Spelling Devices

Method 1: Acronym

Mnemomic Spelling Devices

In this method, acronyms are created using the first letters of words in a sentence or phrase to help remember the spelling of a word. The focus is creating a memorable acronym representing the word’s spelling and meaning. Notice that in these acronyms, the clue phrases to remember the spelling of the words also explain the meanings of the words.

RHYTHM: Rhythm Helps Your Timing Happen Magnificently

COMPUTER: Common Operating Machine Particularly Used for Trade, Education, and Research

FAMILY: Father And Mother, I Love You

HAPPINESS: Having A Positive Perspective Inspires New Experiences So Savor

Method 2: Acrostic

Mnemomic Spelling Devices

Acrostics are similar to acronyms. The difference is that acrostics use fun, memorable sentences that may have nothing to do with the word’s meaning.

In the acrostic method, spellers create a phrase or sentence where each word’s first letter corresponds to the word’s first letter. The emphasis is on creating a sentence that helps remember the sequence of letters in the word.

The examples provided in the acrostic list use creative sentences to assist in remembering the correct spelling of specific words.

ARITHMETIC: A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream

GEOGRAPHY: General Eisenhower’s Oldest Girl Rode A Pony Home Yesterday

EQUAL: Eat Quickly U (as in you) Are Late

DESPERATE: Desperate Elephants Squirt Water Over Pumpkins And Turnips Everywhere

OCCURRENCE: Only Cool Cats Understand Really Rare Events Nicely Comprehended Everytime

SEPARATE: Some Elephants Prefer Apples, Radishes, and Tomatoes Eagerly

Idea #3: Word Association

Mnemomic Spelling Devices

This method involves associating the word you’re trying to spell with another word that is easy to remember.


ocean: “Ocean” can be associated with the “sea” to remember to put the e before the a in the spelling of ocean.

psychology: A psych studies the mind and behavior, so “psychology” must have the letters” psych.”

Idea #4: Catchy Phrases 

Mnemomic Spelling Devices

Do you find yourself saying the old rhyme…

M-I crooked letter, Crooked letter I, Crooked letter
Crooked letter I, Humpback humpback I…

…when you spell Mississippi?

Do you sing Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T as you write the word?

How many times have you reminded yourself i before e except after c?

Catchy phrases creating rhymes or songs can help students remember the spelling of specific words.

Method 5: Additional Catchy Phrases 

Mnemomic Spelling Devices

Here are some more catchy phrases that can assist in remembering specific words:

significant: SIGN IF I CAN’T

bookkeeper:  Triple compound: oo kk ee

cemetery: Remember to spell it with three e’s: Picture a lady yelling “e-e-e!” as she walks past the cemetery.

dilemma: Emma faced a dilemma.

special: The CIA has special agents.

innocent: IN NO CENTury is murder an innocent crime.

sculpture/sculptor: A sculPTURE is a kind of piCTURE

separate: There was a farmer named Sep, and one day his wife saw a rat. She yelled, “Sep! A rat – E!!!”

Mnemonic devices are powerful tools that can significantly enhance students’ spelling skills. Remember to combine different types of mnemonic devices to cater to the diverse needs of your students. Please encourage students to try these techniques and discover which ones work best. These strategies can make spelling lessons more enjoyable and effective for upper elementary students.

Feel free to download the printable copy here for easy reference.

Gay Miller

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