Saturday, December 5, 2009

All About Spelling (TOS Crew Review)

When I received All About Spelling (AAS) to review as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Crew, I thought it might be the answer to prayer! My eldest child is not a fabulous speller, but with the proper drills, she does great. The problem with this is the method: I think drills are ridiculous methods to teach spelling in early elementary grades because the children are so young, the language so complex, and rote memorization so limiting. So, needless to say, spelling has taken a backseat to all other topics lately, and my daughter is falling behind.

The first thing right out of the chute with AAS is the time-consuming, finger-cramping, scratch-inducing letter cards preparation. The Starter Kit that came with our Level 1 box included the letter tiles, CD-ROM with phonograms, and magnets for the back of the letter tiles. Unfortunately, the letter tiles are NOT cut out, nor are they perforated for easy disconnect. It took me over an hour to cut out all of the tiles (they are on sturdy laminated card stock or some such thing), and THAT is a real downside to this program for me. *Update: Just opened Level 2 and it has perforated cards!  They are making this part easier, so no more cutting!! Yay!!

However, moving into the lessons, I must admit AAS regained my trust with the manual and lesson plans. The Teacher's Manual is direct, easy to understand, and lays out each lesson (including teacher script) quite well. There is little to no prep once you get the letter tiles assembled (praise God!), and the lessons make sense and progress in a rather logical way.

I used the program with my 10-year-old and my 6-year-old at the same time, which was rather confusing since my older child was much more advanced. This can be done more easily with AAS by purchasing another Student Material Packet for $14.95, which would give each child his own set of flashcards. [NOTE: the system is such that the flashcards are put in certain places in the card filing box depending on where that child is in the program, thus making it confusing to have 2 children on the same set of cards working at different speeds - understand?]

I really like the idea of teaching children the sounds of letters, which is why we have always used Hooked on Phonics (well, that and we received it as a gift!). The problem I am beginning to see with HoP is that there are too many gaps and too many sight words... again, with the rote memorization! My son is actually beginning to think I have been lying to him when he tries to apply something he has learned to a word he doesn't know!

With AAS, the kids learn the sounds of the letters and the sounds of the letter combinations - these are called phonograms. There are only so many phonograms in the English language, so why not just teach them to the children in a logical way? Well, AAS has developed a program that does just that.

The CD-ROM that comes with the Starter Kit includes an interactive screen with all the phonograms for lessons 1 through 6. The children click on the phonogram and the program speaks the sound, as well as some hint, like "used only at the end of English words." This part was remarkably effective with my son, who is apparently quite brilliant {smile}, because after the first day, he could parrot those rules back to me if he heard any of the phonograms that he had clicked on that first day! He is clearly an auditory learner.

Overall, the program is well designed, makes complete sense, and seems to work. I have already committed to trying another program similar in concept to this one over the next few months, so I will not be rushing to purchase Level 2, but we'll see what next year brings.

The All About Spelling products can be purchased for $29.95 - $39.95, which is quite reasonable in my opinion. To see what my fellow reviewers thought of the program, click here.

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost to me in exchange for my honest review of it after using it. I received Level 1 and the Starter Kit from All About Spelling. I was not compensated in any other way for my time or for this review.

1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine trying to use this with more than one child in a level... you are brave! :)