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Year 3 and 4 Spellings

Are you looking to find out more about Year 3 and 4 spellings? Are you looking for a list of the common exception words for Year 3 and 4? Are you looking to find out what the National Curriculum says about Year 3 and 4 spellings? Then read on to find out the answers to these questions and much more in our handy guide to Year 3 and 4 spellings!

Year 3 and 4 spellings classroom

Year 3 and 4 Spellings - The National Curriculum

These are the statutory requirements in regard to spelling in the National Curriculum for Year 3 and 4:


- Adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters to words of more than one syllable 

Examples: forgetting, forgotten, beginning, beginner, prefer, preferred gardening, gardener, limiting, limited, limitation


- The / ɪ/ sound spelt y elsewhere than at the end of words

Examples: myth, gym, Egypt, pyramid, mystery


- The /ʌ/ sound spelt ou

Examples: young, touch, double, trouble, country


- More prefixes

dis–: disappoint, disagree, disobey

mis–: misbehave, mislead, misspell (mis + spell)

in–: inactive, incorrect

il -: illegal, illegible

im -: immature, immortal, impossible, impatient, imperfect

ir -: irregular, irrelevant, irresponsible

re–: redo, refresh, return, reappear, redecorate

sub–: subdivide, subheading, submarine, submerge

inter–: interact, intercity, international, interrelated (inter + related)

super–: supermarket, superman, superstar

anti–: antiseptic, anticlockwise, antisocial

auto–: autobiography, autograph


- The suffix –ation

Examples: information, adoration, sensation, preparation, admiration


- The suffix –ly

Examples: sadly, completely, usually (usual + ly), finally (final + ly), comically (comical + ly), happily, angrily, gently, simply, humbly, nobly, basically, frantically, dramatically


- Words with endings sounding like /ʒə/ or /tə/

Examples: measure, treasure, pleasure, enclosure creature, furniture, picture, nature, adventure


- Endings which sound like /ʒən/

Examples: division, invasion, confusion, decision, collision, television


- The suffix –ous

Examples: poisonous, dangerous, mountainous, famous, various tremendous, enormous, jealous humorous, glamorous, vigorous courageous, outrageous serious, obvious, curious hideous, spontaneous, courteous


- Endings which sound like /ʃən/, spelt –tion, –sion, –ssion, –cian

Examples: invention, injection, action, hesitation, completion expression, discussion, confession, permission, admission expansion, extension, comprehension, tension musician, electrician, magician, politician, mathematician


- Words with the /k/ sound spelt ch (Greek in origin)

Examples: scheme, chorus, chemist, echo, character


- Words with the /ʃ/ sound spelt ch (mostly French in origin)

Examples: chef, chalet, machine, brochure


- Words ending with the /g/ sound spelt gue and the /k/ sound spelt –que (French in origin)

Examples: league, tongue, antique, unique


- Words with the /s/ sound spelt sc (Latin in origin)

Examples: science, scene, discipline, fascinate, crescent


- Words with the /eɪ/ sound spelt ei, eigh, or ey

Examples: vein, weigh, eight, neighbour, they, obey


- Possessive apostrophe with plural words

Examples: girls’, boys’, babies’, children’s, men’s, mice’s (Note: singular proper nouns ending in an s use the ’s suffix e.g. Cyprus’s population)


- Homophones and near-homophones

Examples: accept/except, affect/effect, ball/bawl, berry/bury, brake/break, fair/fare, grate/great, groan/grown, here/hear, heel/heal/he’ll, knot/not, mail/male, main/mane, meat/meet, medal/meddle, missed/mist, peace/piece, plain/plane, rain/rein/reign, scene/seen, weather/whether, whose/who’s


- Common Exception Words

Year 3 and 4 Spellings - Games and Activities

Schools use a range of different methods to help children learn their spellings. Here are some of the most popular ways to help children learn their spelling words:

1. Wordsearches: spelling words could be hidden in a wordsearch for children to find. If they are learning, for example, how to add +tion to root words, perhaps only the root words could be provided!

2. Hangman: playing a game of hangman on a whiteboard is also another popular way to help children memorise spellings.

3. Anagrams: children could be given anagrams of spelling words which they have to unscramble.

4. Spelling Art: draw an overlapping wiggly line with space in each section you create. Choose one word for each sentence and challenge children to write the word as many times as they can within each section.

5. Word rank: from a range of spelling words, ask children to rank them from what they think are the easiest to spell to the hardest. Try to identify why the words at the bottom are hardest and work on these first. Children could write them out, identifying the trickiest letters and making sure to write these letters larger than the others.

6. Silly sentences: make up silly sentences that use all the words from a given list of spellings. What’s the silliest sentence you can make?!

7. Table tennis spelling: in pairs, children to imagine they are playing table tennis but they bat letters instead of balls! They take it in turns to ping pong each letter in a word in order to each other until they have spelt the word between them.

Year 3 and 4 spellings work

Year 3 and 4 Spellings - Look Say Cover Write Check

Children are typically given a Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check template which has a list of spelling words they need to learn in the first column. These may be common exception words, mis-spelt words identified in their writing or they may be words with a common spelling pattern they need to learn.

The idea of Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check is that the children take each spelling word in turn. First they will look at the word. The next step is to say it aloud so they can hear it. After that, they cover the word over with either their hand or a piece of paper. Then, they will try to write the word in the next column of the table. Finally, they check their spelling by either removing their hand or the piece of paper. This process can be repeated until children have successfully learnt the spelling.

Here are some possible ways in which the Look, Say, Cover, Write Check technique for learning spellings could be used:

- As a morning task when children come into the classroom before registration

-During spelling sessions as a way to provide practise for children in learning spellings

-As a homework task to support parents in helping children learn their spellings

Year 3 and 4 spellings classroom

Year 3 and 4 Spellings - Useful Blogs and Articles

Here at PlanBee we not only have a huge library of resources to support teachers, but we also write expert articles and blogs on a range of subjects. Here are some that you might like to read to find out more about Year 3 and 4 Spellings:


FREE: Printable Letter Tiles

FREE: Homophones Game

FREE: Year 3 Spelling List

FREE: Year 4 Spelling List