Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: All About Spelling

All I can say is...Wow! I have never been this excited over a Spelling program in, well, ever! All About Spelling is hands down, the most effective spelling curriculum we've ever used.

Spelling, while one of my best subjects back in the day, is the "proverbial thorn in my son's academic side". I was at a loss as to how to break spelling down for Ethan in a way that he could understand and master it, much less enjoy it.

We went through a dozen different methods and curriculums, none of which were just right. One or two came close, but there was always some aspect that didn't suit him perfectly. After a particularly rough homeschool day, I remember asking my husband, "Does it really matter if he learns to spell? I mean, in the grand scheme of things?"

Teaching Sierra and Abby their spelling lessons however, was an absolute breeze. They could power through a text/workbook with no problem. (Something I definitely could NOT use with Ethan, as it gave him hives...or so it would seem.)

So, when a big box from All About Spelling arrived on my doorstep for review, I immediately heard Ethan groan. The box was packed, and as the girls and I poured over its contents, I could've sworn I saw my son's "hives" begin to form from across the room. He was not looking forward to this, at all.

However, all of that soon--and I mean really soon!--changed. Within minutes, shiny "lightbulbs" blinked on over his head, as the once frustrating world of spelling began to make sense. (YESSS!)

Created by Mary Rippel, All About Spelling is a rich, comprehensive program that uses a "multi-sensory approach for spelling success". Aspects of all the three learning pathways (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) are incorporated, allowing students to learn more and at a much faster pace than they otherwise would.

The short daily lessons are presented in a sequential manner, while a generous sprinkle of review makes retention a simple and painless process.

All extra (but very necessary) items such as flash cards (words and phonograms) and dividers, colorful letter tiles, tokens for tactile syllable recognition (Level 1), certificates of completion, word lists and more are included in the corresponding level's Materials Packet. (These items were worth their weight in gold, trust me!)

Each level's manual is broken down into three sections:

  • Preparation (Tells you exactly which items you'll be using; flashcards, etc. )
  • Step-by-Step Lesson Plans (Short and easy to follow--for both teacher and student!)
  • Appendices (Includes Scope and Sequence, and a list of all learned words within that level.)

Currently there are four books available, with books five and six forthcoming. These books will take your student(s) through the junior and senior high school levels.
With this multi-faceted approach, students are better able to grasp the concepts of spelling in a hands-on, fun and effective way. (Woo hoo! Having a bottle of Calamine lotion on standby is no longer necessary!)

Now, the only issue I had with this program is all the cutting involved. The children and I cut out hundreds of flash cards, letter tiles and index card dividers. The cramping was horrendous!

Ms. Rippel heard our concerns (and those of other TOS Crew members), and soon sent word that she was going to have the cards changed.

Starting with Level One then working through the remaining levels in 2009, the cards will all be perforated for your ease and satisfaction. :o)  Woohoo! How's that for excellent customer service?

All About Spelling is available for $29.95 or $39.95, depending upon level, and includes one Materials Packet. Additional Materials Packets (if you have more than one student per level) are available for only $12.95.

Other items such as the Letter Tiles, the handy Phonogram Audio CD, and fun Phonogram Bingo Game, can also be purchased for an additional charge.

This is one program I'm definitely going to save for my grandchildren (however far off they might be!). Because you can almost guarantee there's going to be at least one who will struggle with spelling as much as Ethan, and All About Spelling will be patiently waiting. I cannot recommend this program enough!

We give All About Spelling 2 very delighted thumbs up! :o)

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