Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Close-up: Spelling

In preparation for an upcoming post compiling all my curriculum choices for the coming year, I am putting together a variety of "Close-up" posts to share in depth about some of the items we will be using that I think deserve an extra look. We already talked about mentoring, and now on to some of the more core subjects.

Each year in evaluating our focus for the year ahead, I examine where my kids have excelled and struggled in the previous year. Spelling has often received limited attention, and although I have tried various methods, I have never found one that made much of a difference for one of my children in particular.

For this coming year, I think I have the combination to tackle this subject. In addition to SpellQuizzer (which I reviewed at the beginning of the summer), I picked up a much coveted book at a book sale this weekend. For just $5 (!) I snagged a copy of Spelling Power which has become my new favorite book.

Spelling Power, Fourth Edition

More than just a spelling curriculum, this book spends the first 100 pages describing the hows and whys behind their system. I had previously tried The Natural Speller because I liked the idea of getting them into high school with just one spelling book. However, I should have known that a $20 book with less than 100 pages could do what I expected it to. It's a decent book but you get what you pay for, unless you buy it at a used book sale. :-)

Now I don't know if I could justify Spelling Power's $60 price tag new. I haven't paid that much for one book since college. But, it is quite a book.

Here's how it works:

- Preliminary test of 50 words(stop once they have reached six incorrect words)

- More precise placement test (tells you exactly where to start in the book)

- Spend 15 minutes each day on spelling (5 minutes testing, 5 minutes independent work on missed words, 5 minutes skill building activities)

- Kids learn the rules with the lists. I always talked about the rules, but I like the idea of having them write out the phonics rule when we first learn about it.

- Kids move on at their own pace progressing when they get the words right, continuing to study the words they spell incorrectly. I LOVE the individual tailoring of this system.

- Periodic reviews to keep it solid

What I don't like:

- Very teacher intensive. In the past my kids did spelling mostly on their own, and I just checked their tests. I need to find another 45 minutes in my day for spelling now. As my husband said, "That's probably why it works." And, I'm sure he's right.

- Lots of reading to prepare initially. I really want this to work, so I'm doing the reading, but 100 pages is a lot of reading on just spelling!

I'm starting this now, so I will have the kids settled into their routine and expectations when school starts. We get the placement tests done now while I have more flexibility in my schedule, and they will be able to work on their own at least a little through the school year.

I am so thankful that another homeschool mom told me about this book, and I am so thankful that I found it for such a reasonable price from another homeschool mom who has no idea how she blessed me by selling her "done-withs" for those of us still on this journey. I look forward to watching my kids continue to grow and thrive as I add more weapons in my arsenol for the upcoming year.

Enjoy more Thirsty Thursday.


Joy @ Five J's said...

We use SpellQuizzer, too, and love it. I've also heard great things about Spelling Power, but I just can't do curriculum that's so teacher-intensive. Looking forward to seeing how it works for you!

Julie V. said...


We will be starting with Spelling Power this year too- except I paid full price for our book (as I bought it with our entire curriculum package).

I've been reading what the program entails and watched the DVD that goes with the fourth edition. I'm assuming that once you get past where you place each child it's not that teacher intensive. The child is only spending 15 minutes a day in the program. I think it's just a bit overwhelming at first because there are quite a few steps to find out exactly where to start each child.

I'm hoping it's a good spelling curriculum for us!!

Also, I'm just reading the Quick Start Steps chapter and then I'll go to the other chapters as I need them. So, really I shouldn't have to read all 100 pages just to start up.

I enjoy your blog. You always give such wonderful suggestions and encouragement.


Julie Vercouteren

5intow said...

Joy, I've been sold on Spelling power by many homeschoolers, and hope to see it work it's magic here as well.

Julie, good to know I have company along this new spelling path. I agree that most of the teacher time is up front, which we have just done these last couple days. I just tweaked my schedule to include 15 minutes of spelling (5 minutes times three - for each child). We'll see how it goes, if they can do the 10 minutes on their own once they know what they are doing. Thanks for your sweet words, they mean a lot to me. :-)


Catherine said...

We used Spelling Power with my daughter with great success. We didn't do all of the extra activities recommended, but mostly just the spelling itself. I was really happy with it. It didn't work at all with my son, who really is doing well with All About Spelling. I was hoping to get by with Spelling Power for both kids, but my son has dyslexia and needs what AAS provides. Anyway, hope things go well with Spelling Power. It was nice for us to get so many years out of just one book!

Mark Pennington said...

In addition to Spelling Power, try these wonderful free resources. Check out this nice list of the spelling rules with examples and MP3s of spelling rule songs and raps to check out at Spelling Rules Songs and Raps.