i before e Exceptions and Rules

This post on i before e Exceptions and Rules is part of my 21 Challenge. I am taking The 21 Challenge to raise money to support homeless and at-risk young people in Australia. There are more than 32,000 young people who sleep on our streets every night and I blogging a kids activity daily to raise funds to go to Open Family Australia who support these youths.

My challenge is to blog daily an activity I do each day with my kids, using only things we have at home or use what we have on hand when we are out. You can see all the children’s activities I have posted as part of the 21 Challenge by clicking on the tag 21 Challenge here.



i before e Exceptions and Rules
Our daughter is in grade 3 and this year is the first year she has had to learn spelling words at home and be tested on them each week.

This activity is about spelling strategies which we are using to her with her spelling. We have learnt many new rules recently, rules that my other older children did not, but would have made spelling so much easier for them if they had.

The rules provide the basis for her to think about how to spell groups of words and she also learns the exceptions that occur. This week it has been i before e Exceptions and Rules.



Materials needed:

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Word list

i before e Exceptions and Rules:

1. ‘ie’ is first choice.

2. Use ‘ei’ after a ‘c’, like in ‘deceit’ or when sounding like ‘a’ as in ‘sleigh’.

3. Use ‘ei’ when it is an ‘air’ sound like in ‘their’.

But as the English language likes to make things a little tricky there is further exceptions to these rules.

Where correct spelling is ‘ei’ and it is not after a ‘c’:

  • either
  • neither
  • heifer
  • weird
  • protein
  • weir
  • seize
  • leisure
  • seize
  • height
  • forfeit
  • Keith (names do not always follow rules)

Where correct spelling is ‘ie’ and it is after a ‘c’:

  • species
  • glacier
  • ancient
  • science
  • efficient
  • conscience


ie exceptions and rules
I created the table you see above and then read out words to my daughter.

She needed to write them down in the right box. The purpose of this was to get her to think about the word before she began writing it down, recall the rules and exceptions then determine what combination the ‘i’ and ‘e’ should be in.

You can download a template of the table and a list of words below. The list of ‘ie’,’ei’words is not a complete list, rather a selection of words which fit the different rules, which she can practice with.

PWK i before exercise

I would be really interested to know if your kids are taught spelling rules?

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