Friday, December 4, 2009

TOS Crew: All About Spelling

At the end of last year, in our homeschooling endeavors, I decided it was time for a change in was time for a slight change of pace in the way I was teaching Jacob and in the way he was learning.  We switched over to a more classical way of education.  This included switching our spelling program.  We've been using All About Spelling this year, and I have to say, I'm so excited about this program.  It's been absolutely wonderful so far.  We are still in Level 2, but I received Levels 3 and 4 to review for the Crew.  


All About Spelling is the multisensory program for spelling success.  The program works with a variety of learning styles.  Jacob can visually see the letters on the board, he can exercise auditory skills when he sounds out each word, or pronounces it for spelling, and he can kinesthetically learn as well, as he spells each word with the letter magnets and then writes each word down.  The program proceeds in a logical, well-thought out manner, giving Jacob review at the beginning of each lesson.  For example, I usually have him practice putting all his letter magnets in alphabetical order at the beginning of each lesson, and then we also review certain phonogram, sound, key, and word cards that we feel he hasn't quite mastered yet.  There are certain lessons throughout the book, in which he reviews past concepts thoroughly.  Here is a video to help you learn more about this program.

Before I tell you how the program works, there are certain materials that are necessary for you to have.  Each level comes as a packet with a Teacher's Manual; four sets of flashcards (including phonogram cards, sound cards, key cards, and word cards); index card dividers; a progress chart and completion certificate; etc.  Levels 3 and 4 also come with extras, including a Syllable Division Rules Chart, Word Banks, a Homophones List, etc. When I first ordered from All About Spelling, I ordered the Levels 1 and 2 Teacher's Manual and Student Packets, as well as the Letter Tiles.  They also have magnets for your Letter Tiles and a Phonogram CD-ROM, but I already had magnets on hand, and I was fairly confident that I could do this without having the CD-ROM, after reading a review that a friend had written.  (By the way, reading reviews on any kind of homeschooling product you're about to order is the best way to learn more about it and if it might be right for your family.)  They also have a Beehive Reader and the All About Homophones book and e-book available; I did order the All About Homophones book, and I use it as a supplement on days when we just need a change of pace.  Jacob really enjoys doing the worksheets and games in that book.

The beginning of each Teacher's Manual starts out with a warm up lesson, in order to review concepts from the previously taught levels.  There are currently 6 levels in All About Spelling, and they are not based on grade, but on mastery.  Jacob and I spent the first part of this new school year using Level 1, because I wanted him to have review and make sure he understood the concepts that All About Spelling teaches, since before we had used a spelling program based solely on phonetic sounds and word list drills/tests for mastery.  

Level 3 and Level 4 proceed in the same manner as the previously taught levels.  In Level 3, each lesson starts out with Review and Word Analysis.  Jacob has to take a word and analyze the sounds and structure of that word.  Then the lesson proceeds to the new concepts he is learning that day.  Level 4 actually starts out with review and then proceeds to new teaching right away in each lesson.  He will also learn new spelling strategies and how to analyze and spell words that don't fit in with the regular phonics rules.  Keep in mind that each lesson in the Teacher's Manual is scripted for you, so there is hardly any prep time, besides getting out the letter tiles and cards you will need for that particular lesson.  As the lesson moves on, Jacob may be introduced to new phonogram, sound, or key cards, which we practice over.  Jacob usually has to spell each word with his letter tiles, sounding out each sound as he brings each letter tile into place, then saying the word when he is finished.  Reinforcement is given, as he spells the words on paper, spells some words orally, and then writes phrases or sentences that are dictated to him.  Level 3 starts a new section called Writing Station, in which he has a particular set of spelling words, and he has to write original sentences using those words.  With Level 1, the work was pretty easy and pretty much a review for Jacob, so we were able to complete a lesson each day, but as the lessons go on, there might be days where we break the lessons up between days, in order to learn more difficult concepts, and that is totally fine.  This program is bent toward mastery of the concepts and not just drilling a list of spelling words.   

The program is working wonderfully for us.  Buying the first 2 programs was a bit heavy on our budget, since each Teacher's Manual and Student Materials Packet costs $29.95-$39.95.  That cost does not include the Letter Tiles or other extra materials; but since you only have to buy one set of Letter Tiles in the beginning, it really is a good deal, in my opinion.  I firmly believe the program is worth the cost, too.  Jacob is thriving with it, and honestly, it could probably be used to supplement a phonics course for children just beginning to read. Each book is also re-usable, since the student isn't writing in the books, so the whole program can be used for other children down the road; this is so important for a lot of families, since they don't want to have to purchase the program for multiple children.  As a homeschooling Mama, the only drawback I had was cutting out all of the flashcards, although my first set came perforated, so that made it easier.  It just takes a little time in the beginning to set up your index card box, though, and you're off and running.  The book shows you how to set up your letter tiles, so that you are ready to concentrate on teaching, not just getting a bunch of materials ready.  Overall, I give this program a definite two thumbs up.

To read more reviews about this program, visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

(Disclosure: I was provided with this Levels 3 and 4 of this program by All About Spelling, in association with the TOS Homeschool Crew.)    


Debra December 12, 2009 at 9:14 AM  

I agree that All About Spelling does take a good sized bite out of the homeschool budget... but as I'm starting my 4th child with it, wow, it is so nice to have such a quality program that requires me to purchase NOTHING to start it up again. I love that.

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