Do we really need a spelling program? Well, I’ve debated this question since we started homeschooling. I loved spelling as a kid and have always been a particularly good speller.
*Just let me make this disclaimer: if I misspell a word in this review, it’s the computer’s fault.* (*grin*)
I’ve looked into a few independent programs, tried a couple, and even bought one that everyone was "raving" that "nobody can live without". But after collecting all the parts to that program, it was just too time consuming and complicated to figure it out and actually use. So I decided that the spelling included in the core programs we were using was "good enough" to assure that my girls were at least covering the basics. My girls both learned to read very early and have never really struggled with spelling. But I must admit that on occasion one would consistantly misspell a word that seemed rather "easy" to me and I would be left re-evaluating the whole situation. For the most part, I have just taken note of the words they had trouble with and had them practice those words on paper and in sentences.
That being said, you can imagine I was THRILLED beyond words to evaluate a spelling program to see if it was something I should be concerned about. Well, just let me say that this has been one of the absolute biggest blessings that we have received from our Crew experience! This program is just phenomenal, and the girls have had a BLAST using it!
Let me start by letting you in on the anticipation of my lifetime waiting on it to arrive. As other crew members were receiving their packages, I peeked into that mailbox everyday with butterflies in my stomach! And then one day, I opened up my mailbox to a great big box full of All About Spelling materials! I ran back to my house, flung open the door, raced to the table and tore into that package like a kid at Christmas!! So this is what I found:
All four levels of All About Spelling which included the teacher’s manual and student materials packets.
Letter tiles and stick on magnets to apply if one chooses to purchase a magnetic board to use with the program (and we found out this makes the process so much easier to have those tiles already in place each time, and a whole lot of fun to use!!).
A phonogram audio cd-rom which helps both teacher and student to identify the sound of each phonogram properly.
Now we did begin at the very beginning of the program and went through each lesson to get a feel for the program, and understand the mechanics of it. I did find that while the girls had never really thought about the actual "rules" and individual "phonograms", that they did know them just from being "natural" readers. We went through several lessons per session to "fast track" through what we already knew, but still benefit from using the program and get a feel for the different aspects of it.
This program is a practical hands-on program like no other I’ve seen. It utilizes auditory, visual, and kinesthetic approaches together in one program to give the student a fun and effective method to internalize way more than just spelling words. It’s all laid out into quick, easy steps that take very little preparation to implement. Now one side note on this subject I must interject is that it took quite a bit of time to cut and prepare the letter tiles, and all the different cards, but the new sets will have perforated cards to help in teacher prep time.
The girls absolutely LOVED using the tiles to spell words, and I’ll admit we’ve used the tiles to spell more than just AAS spelling words. We’ve adapted them to our Spanish program as well, and have had many home spelling bees as well.
This is another program that is rated E for Everyone. From the learning disabled, to the gifted and talented, and everyone in between, this program will add an element of fun and a sense of accomplishment to those who use it. I am in great anticipation of levels 5 and 6 for the girls, as well as using this program with 2 year old Levi when he is ready. He’s already benefited from the letter tiles and learning the phonograms with the cd-rom and letterboard.
This is one of those rare programs that I will label as "you can’t live without this" if you are teaching your kids at home, or in any other situation. You gotta check this out!!
Personally, I feel this program is extremely cost efficient for what you get. This program is made with high quality materials and is very professional and clean in appearance. Each level teacher manual with one student materials pack is $29.95. You will need one set of tiles per student which is a $9.95 one-time purchase for use with each level. The stick on magnets to apply to the tiles to make them able to use with a magnetic dry-erase board (which we purchased at Wal-Mart for $14.95) are $5.95 and the phonogram cd-rom is $14.95. If you are teaching more than one student at a time you may purchase additional student material packs for $12.95, and they are necessary because some contain additional letter tiles for use with the higher levels. You can check out some great stuff on the All About Spelling website including "20 Best Tips for Teaching Spelling," sample lessons, and scope and sequence here.
Let me close with a note that Greg over at customer service is just AWESOME ! Thanks for your excellent service. I certainly must extend a HUGE, SINCERE THANK YOU to the creator of this program, Marie Rippel, as well. She has certainly gone above and beyond to present our kids with an effective fun tool for learning some very basics that will pave their way to a lifetime of success in learning.
Go spell with your kids!