Grade 3 Spelling

Discover Grade 3 spelling standards

Our Program

At Grade 3 level, children will be growing in confidence with their spelling. They will be building up their toolbox of techniques that help them to attempt many new and unfamiliar words. This toolbox will include the following strategies to help your child to spell Grade 3 level words:

  • Using spelling patterns
  • Learning word families
  • Knowing about position-based spellings
  • Identifying syllable patterns
  • Using a range of ending rules
  • Knowing about meaningful word parts (prefixes, suffixes, root words)

You will also find that encouraging your child to read every day either before or after school will have a positive impact on their spelling level. As they read, children not only pick up new words but also begin to identify recurring spelling patterns that they can use when they are writing. Your child should also continue to develop their use of dictionaries to check and correct spellings.

Spelling Patterns

Children will be applying the spelling patterns they have learned in previous grades to Grade 3 words.

Short and Long "a" Spellings:

  • ai, ae, ay, ei, eigh, a

Short and Long "e" Spellings:

  • e, e-e, ie, ee, ea, ei, ey, y

Short and Long "i" spellings:

  • i, i-e, ie, igh, y

Short and Long o spellings:

  • o, o-e, oe, oa, ow

Short u and Long (yoo) spellings:

  • u, u-e, ue, eu, ew

They will also learn new spelling patterns.

Spelling "ou" words:

  • /ow/: shout
  • /oo/: soup
  • /uh/: cousin

Practice Tip: You could set up a wordsearch for your child to identify words that all share a common spelling pattern, just like this one from

Wordsearch on Night Zookeeper

Silent Consonants

  • kn - know, knot, knight
  • wh - wheel, white, whale
  • ph - phone, photo, alphabet
  • wr - wrap, write, wrong
  • gn - gnaw, gnarl, gnat

Word Families

A word family shares the same root word. A root word is a base word from which other words can be made by adding prefixes and suffixes.


  • Root word: happy
  • Word Family: unhappy, happiness, unhappiness, happily, unhappily, happier

Position-based Spellings

Grade 3 children will learn and practice the rule i after e except before c.

Examples: believe, piece, achieve

There are exceptions to the rule, with eiafter the letter c, which are important for children to learn.

Examples: ceiling, receive, receipt

Syllable Patterns

Breaking words into syllables is a technique children can use to help them with their spelling. There are seven different types of syllables that children learn. The slash marks show where one syllable ends and another begins within a word.

Closed Syllables

A closed syllable usually has a short vowel sound followed by a consonant. This word has two closed syllables:


Open Syllables

An open syllable ends with a vowel which usually gives a long sound.

This word has an open syllable followed by a closed syllable.


VCE Syllable (vowel-consonant-e)

This syllable has the pattern vowel-consonant-e.

This word has a closed syllable followed by a VCE syllable.


Vowel Team Syllable

A vowel team is when two vowels make one vowel sound.

This word has a closed syllable followed by a consonant-l-e syllable, followed by a vowel team syllable.


R-Controlled Syllable

In this type of syllable, a vowel is followed by the letter r which changes the sound the vowel makes.

This word has an r-controlled syllable followed by a VCE syllable.


Diphthong Syllable

A diphthong is when two vowels create a sliding vowel sound that changes: it begins as one vowel sound and changes towards another.

This word has a single diphthong syllable.


Consonant-l-e Syllable

This syllable has the pattern consonant-l-e and is found at the end of words as the final syllable.

This word has a closed syllable followed by a consonant-l-e syllable.


Practice Tip: In order to clearly explain syllables to your child, you can start by breaking up words that contain two syllables. You could do this on small strips of paper, placing the beginnings of words in a pile and endings in a second pile. Then ask you child to put the beginnings and endings of words to together to create a word. The below image is a screenshot of a game on where we challenge children to complete a similar activity on

Match word with Syllable

Ending Rules

Double the Consonant

When a word has a short vowel sound followed by a single consonant, the consonant should be doubled before adding a suffix.

double consonant

dig → di-gg-ing → digging


run → runner

shop → shopped

Drop the Final e

When a word ends with a VCE syllable, the final e should be removed before adding a suffix.

drop the e

drive → drive →driv-ing → driving


take → taking

stare → staring

Change y to i

When a word ends with consonant-y, the y should be changed to i before adding a suffix.

change the y to i

day → dai-ly → daily


beauty → beautiful

happy → happiness

Meaningful Word Parts

These are the units of meaning within a word: root word, prefix, suffix. Children should use their knowledge of these word parts when spelling words.

Examples of prefixes that can be added to the beginning of words:

dis- in- un- fore- semi- mid- anti- inter-

Examples of suffixes that can be added to the end of words:

-ly -ful -ion -less -er -est

Practice Tip: You can challenge your child to unscramble words that end with a specific suffix. Through this activity, children will learn that by knowing how to recognise a suffix pattern can be very beneficial when attempting to break down longer complex spellings. The image below is an example taken from the Night Zookeeper 'Word Code' challenge type.

Spelling rearranging game

How Night Zookeeper can help

The Night Zookeeper program focuses on spelling alongside grammar, vocabulary and punctuation as the cornerstones of learning to write. As your third grade child spends time on, they will experience a range of games and challenges that help to develop all of these areas. Spelling is a crucial skill that is addressed on the website, as we believe that to be a creative and confident author, children need to spell words quickly and effectively so that it does not slow down their thought or drafting process.

Age 8-9 word lists

Related articles:

Grade 3 Reading

Grade 3 Writing

Grade 3 Grammar

Grade 3 Punctuation

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