Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spelling Made Easy with All About Spelling

My son, who is 6, spells well for his age. I, on the other hand, at MUCH older than 6, do not spell very well. My method of spelling is to write the word down and see if it looks right. I decided that this year I would start a formal spelling program with Liam. I was quickly bombarded with questions like "when do I use a K and when do I use a C?" "How do I know if a word needs CK at the end?" and "why does night and weight have a 'ght' at the end instead of 'te'?" Unfortunately, while I generally spell correctly, I do not know the rules behind spelling so I was unable to give him really clear answers. Thankfully, as part of the TOS Crew I was selected to review All About Spelling (Levels 1 and 2). This easy to use program could not have come at a better time!

This product is broken down into levels (currently 5 with another to be introduced in the spring) that start with the basics and progress from there. It is important to note that the levels are not based on grade level and while the spelling words contained in the earlier levels may not prove difficult for your older student the teachings in these earlier levels ensures that there will not be gaps in your child's grasp of spelling. Even an older child that it having some difficulty with spelling would benefit from starting at level one of this program. Liam and I have had time to get through most of level 1 in the review period and will move on to level 2 come the new year. Level 1 begins by teaching how to write and say the first 32 phonograms and how to segment words into sounds and then syllables. Several spelling rules and tips are taught throughout the lessons as well. Students learn about short and long vowel sounds, how to write the plural of words and when to use "ck" at the end of a word (amongst much more).

According to All About Spelling's website (their comments in bold, mine in regular font), All About Spelling:

  • is multisensory: Studies suggest that children learn better when they use more that one sense to learn a subject. All About Spelling incorporates hearing and seeing with kinesthetics (writing, moving tokens and letter tiles) to teach students how to spelling.

  • is logical: I really appreciate that this program makes sense. I'm not teaching things and wondering why I am teaching them. The lessons follow a logical progression which is good for the teacher and good for the student as well because neither are left guessing what the purpose of the lesson is. Each successive lesson is built on a previous one and Liam was clearly able to see that and point out the connections.

  • is mastery-based and has continual review: Liam did not appreciate this as much as I did as he does not have a lot of patience for doing things over and over again. I, on the other hand, feel that it is pointless to move ahead with any subject if the student has not grasped the easier concepts related to that topic (one of my issues with public school is that students can get let behind because in general the teachers don't have time to make sure that all students have mastered the topics being covered). With continual review, the students do not forget what was learned previous and as they continue to built on the concepts they gain confidence in their spelling skills. Using an index card system for learning and review, each topic (coloured coded and provided to you on perforated card stock) is divided into three sections (review material, mastered material, and material for future use) and separated by index cards also provided with the level. This simplifies things greatly and eliminates the need for lists and scralwed notes to track progress.

  • is clear: There is no guessing when it comes to All About Spelling. Each lesson is carefully planned out and scripted, not giving the teacher a chance to worry about how to introduce the material. As I mentioned, the program is logical and what is logical is usually clear for both student and teacher.

It is also worth noting that All About Spelling contains NO GAPS. If there is a reliable rule that will help your child out, we teach it. If there is a tip that will help your child master a certain spelling pattern, it’s in there. I've been able to teach Liam some of the spelling tricks that he asked about in is "how do you know..." questions. I also have confidence that his other questions will be answered as we progress through the other levels of All About Spelling.

For the cost of 29.95 (for the lessons) and 26.95 (for the starter kit containing tiles, magnets and phonogram CD used for all levels) I think that this program is a worthwhile investment if you are struggling to figure out the best way to teach your child how to spell well. Be sure to check out their website for more information on this program.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.


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