Friday, September 5, 2008

Spelling Progress! All About Spelling Review

I have to share about a favorite curriculum!

We've tried several spelling programs here (including making up my own, which I found to be a very involved task!). But never found one we really loved or that "worked" for us. Then last Spring I stumbled across All About Spelling; it was everything I had wanted to create on my own and more.

My son (11) says that it's the most effective curriculum we've used. "It starts out basic and really makes you think about how words are spelled. Then it helps you to know how to spell tricky words. I like writing the words on the white board. It's fun because I like to see what I know and I like the trivia questions! (review cards). I like the time that I get to spend with Mom."

(No, I didn't pay him to say that last part, isn't he sweet?!) I agree that it's effective; every week I am noticing more words that my kids are spelling correctly in their writing that they didn't know how to spell before.

So, here is my All About Spelling review:

The things I like:

The letter tiles--these are similar to what we used in Reading Reflex, only these are laminated and color-coordinated. We use the magnets too and put them on a magnetic white board--this makes the program so user-friendly!

Not sure if you can read what Zach spelled on the board: I'm done with my book! We were both so proud!

The book is open and go, the lessons are all laid out. We work for about 15 minutes & then pick up there again the next day. I spent one day getting ready to teach it by punching out the perforated cards & just glancing at the book. Otherwise there is really no prep time.

Each new step begins with reviewing rules and words that still need reinforcing, then learning some new concepts and building words with the tiles. Later the kids can write words on a white board or on paper (or they can use more tactile methods). I really like that there are phrases and dictation sentences to write too--so the kids don't just memorize a list and then forget it, they have to think how to write words in a sentence. I think this is one reason that what my kids are learning is "sticking."

We can go as quickly or as slowly as we need to through each lesson, so my kids learn at their own pace. Some lessons (called "steps") have taken us 2 days, some have taken a week or so.

Here's Anna after finishing another lesson, with her progress chart. Obviously she loves "sticker day," LOL!

Review is built in so it won't be forgotten, and my kids retain what they are learning. It's completely customizeable--the rules and words are on cards that you keep in a card file, and when your kids have them mastered, you move the cards out of the review section.

Zach and his progress chart, done with Level 2!

It's based on the Orton Gillingham phonics research, and it only teaches rules that really hold true (no rules like "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking," which is only true about 40% of the time.) AAS also used the same research that another favorite book of mine--The ABC's and All Their Tricks--used.

It uses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic processes. Works for kids with dyslexia, auditory processing struggles (which we have dealt with) and other issues too.

AAS has a money back guarantee (that tipped the scales for me to try it! And they take paypal too, another plus).

There is a great Resource Center on the site with articles and videos for further help.

There is a jail for words that don't follow the rules!

We added magnets to the "jail" so we could put that on our board too! BTW, the board is 2' X 3' if you're wondering--the angle of this picture may make it look bigger.

AAS is easy to use and to understand. I only wish I had found it several years ago! I really can't think of much I'd change about it, and I've found that the author is very accessible and helpful. It might not be the program for everyone, but if you're looking for a better spelling program, check it out. I decided to become an affiliate because it's helped us so much. If I can answer any questions I'd be glad to. (I've been talking up AAS since before I knew they had an affiliate program because it made my kids enjoy and understand spelling. We're midway through book 2 and will start book 3 later this year.).

God bless, Merry :-)

1/6/09--I thought I'd add an update to this post, and some pictures! My kids still enjoy this, and their writing has improved so much. They can spell more words and if they do make a mistake, usually the mistake makes phonetic sense--no more simply "decorating with vowels" or adding extra letters because the word might need more!

They have a lot more confidence now and both have told me that reading is more fun too. I think AAS has helped with word-attack skills for bigger words, as well as helping with their speed. Zach actually read a huge Indiana Jones novel (with all four books in it). Back in September he told me that the first chapter in one of the books didn't make sense and didn't belong. After discussing how that couldn't be true, he put the book up for awhile and re-read it in November--and told me that now he could read it all and that it DID make sense! Zach is now in Level 3, and Anna is nearing the end of Level 2.

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