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Homeschool Crew Review: All About Spelling

 

Our children studied phonics to learn to read.  Some of them learned to spell automatically as well, but others did not seem to understand that the same sounds used for reading could also be used for spelling.  All About Spelling  breaks words apart and uses phonics to teach spelling.  Yes, there are word lists, but the method forces a child to think of words in terms of their sounds.  It makes sense and it is logical, and even Miss Seven who thrives on rules (for words and letters, not her own behaviour, LOL) is happy with it.

 

As a Homeschool Review Crew family, we received the first two levels of All About Spelling, a logical, multisensory, easy-to-teach spelling program.  For each level, we got a teacher’s manual, a huge pile of learning cards with dividers, a progress chart, and a completion certificate.  The package also contained a phonogram audio CD-ROM, tokens, letter tiles with optional magnets, and other neat resources specific to each level, including a jail for words that break the rules.

 

Both levels have a large supply of coloured index cards, with dividers labelled ‘future lessons,’ ‘mastered,’ and ‘review’ for each kind (color) of card.  There are phonogram cards which introduce letters and the various sounds they make.   Sound cards are used to dictate the sounds, key cards to teach rules, and word cards to learn spelling words.  At the beginning of each lesson these cards are reviewed, and once they are mastered they are reviewed occasionally.  Level Two begins with a review of the rules of Level One.

 

To prepare the cards for each level, one has to tear apart and organize a thick pile of perforated cardboard sheets.  This takes some time, but I’m so grateful I don’t have to cut the cards apart with a pair of scissors!  (Ouch!  My hand aches at the thought.) It is also necessary to cut out the sturdy laminated letter tiles, and stick on the adhesive magnets if desired, but this is relatively quick and easy to do.

 

How All About Spelling Worked for Us

At the beginning of each lesson, we put out the magnetized letter tiles. At first we put them on the fridge and pulled chairs up to our instant magnet board, but later we discovered we preferred just laying them out on the table.  The letter tiles are a key element in teaching a child to break a word into segments and to really listen to each sound, but neither of my girls enjoyed using them. (They don’t like math manipulatives either.)  After a while we would use the tiles only if we had difficulties with a word.  The rest of the time, the girls  just printed out the words on paper. 

 

We found that it was complicated to have two children working in the same level, because I’d forget who was using which cards.  Therefore we let Miss Nine whiz through the course, with Miss Seven often watching and ‘helping.’  As soon as Miss Nine was finished Level One, Miss Seven got to start it.  

 

Miss Nine has always been what I call a “global speller.”  She spelled words as she pictured them; she would not try to divide the words into sounds.  When I asked her to spell ‘elk’ she wailed, “But I’ve never read that word!”  Obviously, she had no confidence in her spelling ability at all.  Working through All About Spelling starting from Level One gave her a good foundation in “phonetic spelling,” and she can now spell out words step by step.  She can even spell words she has never seen before!   Level Two is helping even more, and it reinforces the syllabication work she’s doing in her reading/phonics course.

 

A wonderful bonus for our family was that Miss Seven improved her reading skills and confidence by occasionally dictating the spelling words to her older sister.  She really enjoyed this change from her usual phonics and reading lessons.  When it was her turn to start Level One, she was able to proceed rather quickly.  Only the syllabication caused troubles, and that’s something all our children have found difficult at this age.

 

The spelling rules on the key cards are a good review for all my children.  The English language does make a lot of sense; you just have to find the patterns.  Learning the spelling rules gives students the ability to spell words never encountered before.  What a confidence booster!

 

This course is easy for me to teach.  It tells exactly what to do, and even what to say.  Normally I absolutely hate scripted courses because they sound so artificial, but for spelling it seems to work.  I guess it’s because there’s only one—or a very few—answers to, “What makes this sound?”  and “What sound does this make?”  (The scripted lessons also made it possible for us to do spelling during this sad week when I could hardly keep my mind on what I was doing.)

 

Motivation-wise, there’s a progress chart listing each lesson or ‘step’ in a level.  My girls got to put a sticker on the number of each step they completed, something they really enjoyed.

 

All About Spelling has been a blessing to my little girls.  We find the course to be simple and effective, for me as well as the girls.  I just wish we’d had access to this program at the start of our homeschool journey.

 

Would All About Spelling Work for Your Family?

Here are some things to think about:

  • The program is hands-on, using sight, sound, and touch.  The tokens and letter tiles are great helps in learning to break a word up into its sounds.
  • Concept usually follows concept in a logical and clear way (although we experienced some confusion with ‘g’ vs ‘j’ which was not anticipated by the lessons).
  • Each lesson begins with a reminder to review the four different kinds of cards.  As well, in Level Two most lessons include a concept review as well.
  • Phrases and sentences are provided for dictation, once the student knows enough sounds.
  • All About Spelling does not follow grade levels, but is organized by concepts and spelling patterns.  A child can go quickly through what he understands and slow down if a concept is difficult to master.
  • You can purchase an extra student material package (i.e., the cards) separately if you have two children doing the same level.

Sample lessons and scope and sequence outlines for the first three levels are available here.  Level Four and Level Five  information is also available.

 

For those on a tight budget, there are other spelling solutions, but they will require mom to do more work than is required by All About Spelling.  As usual, it is a toss-up between spending time/energy and spending money.  Note that some other homeschool spelling programs are both expensive and time consuming; if you are considering one of those, really do check out All About Spelling as well.

 

Whether or not you chose to purchase All About Spelling, it’s worth checking out the many articles that will help you teach spelling.   While you’re on the website, be sure to sign up for the free report, “20 Best Tips for Teaching Spelling.”

 

For more reviews of All About Spelling, please visit the Homeschool Crew blog.

 

To Purchase

All About Spelling is available for purchase on the website.    The price for both a teacher’s manual and a student material packet ranges from $29.95 US to $39.95 US, depending on the level.  As well, one can buy a starter kit containing the letter tiles, magnets, and phonogram CD-ROM for $26.95 US, but it is also possible to just buy the letter tiles for $10.95 US. All About Spelling offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee for one year.

 

Policies

Disclosure Policy:   As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received Level One and Level Two of All About Spelling.   

 

Dial-Up Friendly Policy:  For the sake of my dial-up readers, this post avoids visuals. 

 

2 Comments

  1. jenn4him says:

    I am always trying to find something to help my daughter, age 10. She likes Sequential Spelling, but for me it is boring and the words are not ones that she uses in her everyday writing. I try keeping a list of those she mispells. You are right, it is a lot of work! I was fortuante to have one natural born speller. So it could be worse.

    Jenn

  2. Anonymous says:

    I couldn't make AAS work with more than one child in the same book either. My youngest son has been not so patiently waiting for his big brother to get through book 1 so that he can start…

    I do really love the idea of having younger siblings dictating the spelling words. I may borrow that concept. Thanks 🙂

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