Monthly Archives: February 2013

Why calculator spelling is so cool! Episode IV – A New Hope

It’s amazing how “silly, little  things” get reaction on the internet. I write about all sorts of “important” and serious things – but one topic that has got lots of positive reaction from around the world is a “silly” post about calculator spelling –  a random, spontaneous post that’s turned into a series of posts on the topic!

O calc spelling

It seems lots of people have fond memories of calculator spelling – and I was amazed to find out that it is a world-wide phenomenon! Posts about this at the end:

For me, one of the best things about re-discovering calculator spelling is “using the Force” of calculator spelling to help my 8-year-old son Orlando master some of the spelling basics – especially vowel combinations like OI. I’ve also been using the Force of Star Wars to make spelling more interesting 🙂


My son learns better with his hands and so the fun aspect of punching numbers into a calculator and making words and looking at the calculator upside down – helps him remember the words.


He also learns well from forming words with Scrabble letters. He shuffles the letters around and then taking a “mental snapshot” of what the word looks like.

O scrabble

So this week, we’ve had fun and laughs – doing both – forming letters with  Scrabble letters of the limited calculator spelling alphabet  and then punching the words into a calculator.  Here’s the alphabet  you’ve got to work with.


We used a simpler version:


I’d been trying to help my son remember the OI combination for words like mOIsture.

Calculator spelling and Scrabble helped him remember a few more OI words:



A cheeky smile spread across my son’s face as he turned to me and said:

What a shame we don’t have a T in calculator spelling!


He cracks me up!

It seems kids around the world like making “naughty” words with calculator spelling:

Here’s a link to an earlier post about this – and other posts about calculator spelling AND harnessing the force of Star Wars to teach spelling.  Enjoy!


Tonight’s spelling is about how the F sound can be made with the letter combination GH – an in lauGH and of course PH.

I’ve already got ideas about how to make PH words memorable: 🙂

O phantom


“Naughty” calculator spelling from other countries!





My  8-year-old son Orlando thought I was so cool when I showed him the joys of calculator spelling – silly things I hadn’t thought about since high school.





Of course I showed him safe words like HELLO  07734 – even though the first words  that came to mind were BOOBS and BOOBLESS! Did you know kids in other countries also loved making up “naughty” words in their own languages on calculators? More on that later.

O calc spelling

Orlando was hooked and came up to me yesterday proudly showing me all the new words “he discovered” and “made up”. Words like EGG and GLEE and expressions like LOL. So sweet!


And of course HOBO and HOBOS – kids his age seem obsessed with HOBOs!

In previous posts I wrote about the wonderful world of calculator spelling and its cultural significance.

Next step is to use the “hook” of the fun of calculator spelling to hep teach my son words from foreign languages.

My son loves to learn by using his hands – especially  shuffling around Scrabble letters (I am soooo grateful to Scrabble!)

thank you

I give him the basic calculator spelling alphabet he can make words from.


My son loves learning Italian – so our next learning experience will be making Italian words like BELLO and SI

Now this next bit of the post is for YOU – I won’t be telling my son – but “naughty” boys and girls in foreign countries make up “cheeky” words the way English speaking kids would make up calculator spelling words like BOOBIES.


Some fascinating “naughty” words from foreign languages include:

In Portuguese the equivalent of BOOBS is 50135 –  SEIOS – means ‘breasts’

In Spanish – 50538 is kisses – BESOS

And an amazing fact (according to that font of knowledge, Wikipedia):

In Germany, das ist verboten (or at least frowned upon!)  to write on a calculator: 7134.9315

(The decimal point separates the two words)

If you try it yourself (but don’t do it if you are in Germany!) and you’’’ see why!