I don't pick all words based on his ability, or inability, to read them. Sometimes I base them on his need to spell them. This particular child had a terrible time learning to speak. He seemed to have quite a stutter that would frustrate him beyond belief. Often this crept up each time he learned a new spiel of words, sometimes when he was just too excited to spit it out and other times there was on explanation for it. The point is, that even when he said words wrong we didn't bother to correct him. If he could speak without frustrating himself and in a way people could understand we took it and ran with it.
As he's gotten older we haven't completely corrected some of his words, and it shows in his reading and writing. We're not panicking, we're simply moving forward and working with it. So, for the past month or so I've had what we call "wheel words" which is nothing more then 12 dolsch words on a ring. He read them out he gets 5 seconds or less to look at the word and then he spells them to me. Within a weeks time he writes them on a white board or paper and usually he can tell when he's missing a letter even if he doesn't know what it is.
While making printables for school this week I came up with the fun idea of putting some of his words on paper with the letters he often leaves off or forgets all ready missing. I put them and a bag of bananagrams (we adore this game, but be forewarned fellow Aussies they freak when you take it through customs!) in a workbox and told him he had to find the missing letters and when he was done to use his wheel words to double check his answers. Day 1 he panicked. He looked at the words and knew what they were, but after 2 weeks off from colds he was convinced that I had gone loopy.
I sat down with him and asked him what the words were. Reminded him that he knew all these words and slowly he figured them out. On Day 2 he couldn't wait to tackle them and he did even better. It'll be interesting to see how he does applying the correct spelling to these words now. All though, in the words of a kind and loving friend, "Boys are notoriously bad spellers.." Then again, I know a certain girl who use to be a really bad speller too..