Words do the trick

English is a notoriously difficult language to learn, in part due to its rampant irregularity in verb tenses, singular and plural forms, and spelling. As a person who has always been a good speller and passionate about all things linguistic, I find it an interesting challenge to have a child who struggles with even very simple spelling. She is motivated, though, and recently began practicing her list of “trick words” (words difficult to spell because they don’t follow the usual “rules” of phonetics and/or phonemics) in the afternoons while one brother practiced violin and the other “read” a Plants vs. Zombies graphic novel. One night, looking over her practice sheets, I felt inspired to use all 41 words in a writing exercise, and I ended up with a kind of a poem. The only additions I made to the list of words here are two articles (“a”) and one conjunction (“and”), plus some punctuation.

Trick Words

Away, animal night.
A place only eight knew:
full house both large
and used.


Something always goes against
every right: city, school, family.

Talk (answer). Walk (move). Know (use). Carry (change).
Done once…again…often…
pretty please
a different world shall pull together.

Only the words with a check mark to the left of them were on her list to practice.

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