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  Silent letters
Updated 13 February 2003, 10.25

Learning aims
  • Know and apply methods to help learn and remember correct spellings

Introduction
Read through with the class the story First glimpse of the Harry Potter knight bus.

Ask the class:

  • What's special about the spelling of the word 'knight'?

  • How would you explain the way that silent letters work to someone else?
Explain that silent letters are letters that you can't hear when you say the word, but that are there when you write the word.

There are no rules, you just have to learn them.

Ask students for other words that contain silent letters:

  • crumb
  • two
  • doubt
  • knock
Practising the spellings of words with silent letters can make spelling easier.

Main activity
Set a silent letters poetry challenge.

Pick a selection of words with silent letters and get students to write a short poem containing some of the words.

Crossword and wordsearch
Crossword and wordsearch

Extension activity
Students can use squared paper to devise their own crossword puzzles or wordsearches using words containing silent letters as the answers.

They could produce separate crosswords for each set of words on the factsheet that contain silent n, d, g, u, h, t, k, b, l and w.

Plenary
Check the class' understanding of the concept of silent letters.

Students share their poems and members of the class point out the words that contain silent letters.

Students could also swap crosswords and solve them.

Teachers' Background

Points to note:

  • This activity includes words like 'almond' and 'where', which in many parts of the UK don't include a silent letter due to accent variations.

  • All of the words used in defined in dictionary pronunciation notes as being silent.

  • However, many dictionaries follow a southern English pronunciation and differences in regional accents mean that in some areas certain silent letters are sounded eg: 'h' in 'where'.


More InfoBORDER=0
TeachersSilent letters factsheet
TV/FilmFirst glimpse of the Harry Potter Knight Bus

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BBC Links
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BBCi Skillswise: Silent Invaders game

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