I remember from some of my linguistic classes in college the idea of mapping with words and sentences, so, this idea is not new to me. However, the idea that word mapping is a great way to teach struggling spellers, writers, or readers didn't occur to me until I found the idea researching one day online. This concept makes sense to me in many different ways. For children who have a difficult time just soaking in this information through reading or daily exposure to words, a logical, explicit, repetitive study of words can help. We have found some success learning spelling words and new words when reading by using this method!
Word Mapping is basically discovering the parts of the word then discussing why the word looks like it does by discussing the rules behind each part. In English, because of the many strange spellings, we might think that our language does not follow rules all the time, or that the rules are the exceptions. If we study the English language, we will find that there are rules for the spelling of each word and they are followed!
The curriculum for phonics that we are following basically teaches G to create words using the rules learned. When studying spelling words, however, we are breaking down the words into their parts and mapping them out.
For example, let's take the word "sunny". First, we would discover the consonant - vowel pattern it follows. Sunny's consonant - vowel pattern is: cvccv. We write this down. Then, we would count the phonemes and draw blanks for the number of phonemes we hear. Now, it's time to fill in the phonemes. We would first notice that it begins with the /s/ sound, which, in english, we spell with either a "c" or an "s". In this case, it is an "s"/ Then, we would go over our short vowel chart to distinguish the vowel sound in the middle of the word. In this case, it is a short /u/ sound. Next, we discover that when we say /sunny/, there is a /ee/ sound at the end of the word, and we know that in English, if the word ends in the sound /ee/, it is usually spelled with a "y". This "y" is considered a suffix. Next, we would discover that sunny has two "n"s in the middle. It follows the "doubling" rule, which is, when you add a suffix to a one syllable word which ends in a consonant, you double the consonant before adding the suffix "y". So, the /n/ sound that we hear is spelled with two "n"s.
For reading new words, G can use his recollection of the rules of English first and then his finger to cover up a part of the new word, uncovering as he blends. For writing, ideally, he would think about the rules before he writes the challenging words. The same English rules are reinforced whether reading, writing, or spelling.
Next is repetition, repetition, repetition. Something that has helped with this is a cd I've found with some of the basic spelling rules in it to song. Here's the link for what we use. I'm sure there are tons of spelling songs out there, the point is to use whatever helps!
As he is learning and memorizing the basics of English words, hopefully he will get a better grasp on how to read, write, and spell effectively.