Common exception words are words in English that have unusual spelling. They don’t follow the usual phonetic rules or spelling rules. These words are often taught separately, for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 students, from regular words because they can’t be sounded out phonetically. Here is a list of common exception words which appear in the national curriculum:
There are many other exception words in the English language, but these are some of the most commonly used in early education. Why not try memorising them with your students using common exception word flashcards? It’s important for children to learn these words as it will increase their fluency by being able to read them easily and automatically in line with the national curriculum.
Graphemes, phonemes, and digraphs
Graphemes are written symbols that represent a sound (phoneme). Some phonemes may be represented by more than one grapheme.They can either be a single letter or a group of letters such as:
- one letter grapheme – i, o, s, h
- two letters – ch, sh, qu
- three letters ear, air, igh
- Digraphs are two letters that represent a single sound. This sound can be a vowel sound or a consonant sound.Digraphs can be made up of vowels or consonants, or a combination of both. Examples of vowel digraphs include ‘ai’ in ‘rain’, ‘ea’ in ‘eat’, and ‘ie’ in ‘pie’. Examples of consonant digraphs include ‘ch’ in ‘church’, ‘sh’ in ‘ship’, and ‘th’ in ‘think’.
How can you teach common exception words?
Teaching common exception words to Year 2 students in the UK can be done through a variety of methods, including:
- Repetition: Consistently reviewing the words on a daily or weekly basis can help students remember the spelling and meaning of each word. This, in conjunction with word assessment weekly, will help students memorise common exception words.
- Multi-sensory learning: Incorporating different senses such as visual aids, touch, and sound can help students remember the words more easily. You can create common exception word flashcards, use magnetic letters, and have students say the words out loud.
- Word games: Incorporating games such as Bingo, Hangman, or Memory can make learning the words more fun and engaging for students. Use our word searches here as a game.
- Reading and writing: Encourage students to use the common exception words in their reading and writing assignments. This will help reinforce their understanding of the words and how they are used in context.
- Mnemonics: Using mnemonics such as songs, rhymes, or acronyms can help students remember how the words are spelt.
- ‘Look, Cover, Write, and Check’: A fantastic method is the ‘Look, Cover, Write, and Check’. Here you will have children look at the word and point out the ‘tricky’ part, then cover the word, write the word, and check to see if the spelling is correct.
Common exception words can be tricky words for students to learn so it’s important to make the lessons interactive, engaging, and fun. Consistent practice and repetition will help ensure that the common exception words become ingrained in their memory from their early years.
We’re here to help…
We’ve designed some teaching resources for common exception words for year 2 students. These worksheets are designed specifically for early years, Key Stage 1, and Key Stage 2 in primary school. These are all printable or can, of course, be edited in real time.
- Common exception words in sentences — Our worksheet is an engaging way for students to practice using common exception words in context to fully grasp meaning and spelling. Maybe practice writing correspondence to use these tricky words alongside high-frequency words in full sentences.
- Real words vs common exception words — Our Real Words vs Common Exception Words template is a great way for students to practice identifying and understanding the difference between the two types of words.
- Common exception words worksheet — Our worksheet is a helpful tool for children learning to read and write tricky words.
Common exception words from A to Z
We have collated some common exception words for every letter of the alphabet for you to use as a teaching resource when designing flashcards, games, or activity packs.
X: box (as “x” is a rare letter, there are not many common exception words starting with it)
Z: zigzag (again, not many common exception words starting with ‘z’)
Tricky words can be challenging for students to learn in their early years, but this is an integral part of EYFS learning. We hope that the teaching resources we have put together in this blog will help you conquer those trying common exception words with your class.