Captain Ahab's Weird Wide World: Little Miss Mascot

article by Stephanie Ryan , illustrated by Fifi Colston

Learning Intention:

I am learning to focus on phoneme-grapheme (sound-letter) relationships to enable me to understand how to use less common letter patterns to spell words.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify the phoneme/grapheme relationships in words.
  • I can select words I am unsure how to spell.
  • I can analyse a range of elements about my chosen words.
  • I can include the information I collect in a word-profile.
  • I can practice spelling unfamiliar words using a range of strategies.


Essential knowledge:

Ensure students are familiar with terms such as phoneme (speech sound), grapheme (the smallest unit of sound in the written language) and diagraph (a combination of two letters representing one sound).

View the document K-2 Instructional Sequence, Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondences for information on supporting grapheme/phoneme understanding. Note: While this document relates to years K-2, it provides useful background information on the teaching process and the information included may still be highly relevant for students in Year 3.

Discuss etymology ensuring students understand that many of the words we have in English have origins in other languages, including Greek, Latin and French. Inform students that understanding the origins of words allows us to identify common spelling patterns.



Discuss how the same graphemes and diagraphs can make different speech sounds in words. Display the following:

  • Snow
  • How?

Discuss the sound ‘ow’ makes in each of the words, emphasising that these are different. Instruct students to share further examples they have encountered, for example: eat and head, xylophone and fox.


Understanding text:


Read Captain Ahab’s Weird Wide World: Little Miss Mascot or listen to the audio file if you have a digital subscription. Tell students that identifying the diagraphs for each of the speech sounds in a word will support them with learning to spell new words.

Display the following words:

  • Nearest
  • Instead
  • Treatment

Refer students to the first three words, nearest, instead and treatment. Discuss the speech sounds made by the diagraph ‘ea’ in each word, emphasising that in nearest and treatment the diagraph ‘ea’ makes a long e sound, whereas in instead it makes a short e sound.

Discuss further words that feature the diagraph ‘ea’ and note these on the board. For example:

  • Bread
  • Eat
  • Head
  • Sea
  • Easter
  • Peach
  • Dread
  • Knead
  • Ordeal
  • Dead

Sort the words based on the speech sound made by the ‘ea’ diagraph using a T-chart. For example:


Diagraphs sound like a long e Diagraphs that sound like a short e













Inform students that they will be identifying words in the article that they are unsure how to spell before analysing the words to help them to learn how to spell them. Inform students that one element they will be analysing is the speech sounds made by the diagraphs in each word.

Instruct students to identify at least three words from the article that they are unsure how to spell. Sample words might include:

  • Arthur
  • Treatment
  • Rowed
  • Anchored
  • Allowed
  • Medical
  • Civilians
  • Formally
  • Enlisted
  • Honorary
  • Transported
  • Received
  • Service
  • Certificate
  • Brought
  • Discharged
  • Required


Note: Students may require support to identify words they find challenging to spell without attempting them. In this case, instruct students to cover over the page of the magazine before conducting a quick spelling check, calling out the words noted above and asking students to spell them in their workbooks. Any words they are unsure of should form the words they select for the main activity.

If students are confident with spelling all the words in the article, refer them to view the list from the National Curriculum in England to identify words they are unfamiliar with.

Those with a digital subscription can complete the interactive activity now.


Creating text:


Inform students that they will be taking a deep dive into their chosen words. Tell students that they will be creating a word-profile, similar to a character profile, about their chosen words. Inform students that their word profile should include as much information about the word and how it is spelt. Display the following list of elements students may include in their word profile:

  • The number of letters
  • The number of syllables
  • The pronunciation/breakdown of the speech sounds in each syllable (perhaps written phonetically)
  • Other words that feature the same diagraphs
  • The etymology of the word (where each of the elements originate from)
  • Possible prefixes and suffixes that can be added to the word and how these impact the spelling of the word.

Students can use a dictionary, either in book format or online, to identify the information they require for the word-profiles.

Inform students that they can choose from the following approaches to display their word profiles:

  • A poster
  • A fact-file
  • A list
  • An article style with an image of the word

Once students have completed their word-profiles, place students with a partner. Instruct students to test each other on their chosen words. Discuss whether students feel more confident with spelling the words they identified after creating the word-profiles.


Assessment for/as learning:

Use a digital exit ticket for students to reflect on their learning. Alternatively, instruct the students to respond to the following questions in their workbooks:

  • Something I learned today is:
  • In relation to the spelling we practiced today (select one of the following),
  1. I can move onto the next concept
  2. I need a little more practice
  3. I would like to re-learn that concept again
  4. I would like to learn more about….