Copywork and Dictation


‘…the whole secret of spelling lies in the habit of visualizing words from memory… The gift of spelling depends upon the power the eye possesses to ‘take’ (in a photographic sense) a detailed picture of a word; and this is a power and habit, which must be cultivated in children from the first.’


After a solid foundation in reading and copywork, Charlotte Mason relied on a method called prepared (or studied) dictation to teach spelling to her students.

Miss Mason herself on Spelling, in Modern English

The AO Advisory on Copywork

An example of Miss Mason’s visualization method in action

Miss Mason’s methods for teaching Spelling explained

The AO Advisory on Dictation

Steps of a Dictation Lesson for Spelling Mastery

Studied Dictation

Video – Sonya Shafer of SCM explains Prepared Dictation

Notes from Cheri Hedden’s Dictation workshops at the 2009 Charlotte Mason conference


The teacher parent selects phrases, sentences, and passages that target particular words or spelling conventions.  As students mature, they transition to selecting their own passages for copying and begin their own Commonplace Book.

Passages for Copywork and Dictation should ideally be drawn from the literature students are reading in their daily lessons.  Several copywork and dictation programs do exist in the public domain, however, which provide preselected passages tailored to fit a comprehensive spelling program.  Links for these are provided below.

Wheeler – Graded Studies in Authors: a complete speller ( or

Wagenen – The Modern Speller Book 1 (2nd, 3rd and 4th Year) ( or
Wagenen – The Modern Speller Book 2 (5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Year) ( or

Rossman (1905) – The Dictation Spelling Book ( or

Rossman (1907) – The Dictation Spelling Book Vol 1 ( or
Rossman (1907) – The Dictation Spelling Book Vol 2 (


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