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Families Again
Friday, 4 December 2009
All About Spelling - I've Got A Secret!
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


Ok. I know I let the cat out of the bag that I used to be a school teacher in one of my last reviews. If you recall, I was actually an "Educational Therapist" and worked with kids who had learning difficulties.So what's the new secret? The new secret is that one of the techniques that we used to help teach reading and spelling was the Orton-Gillingham approach. The Orton-Gillingham approach believes strongly in phonics. Now, I heard recently that phonics was originally developed in the early 1900's as a way to keep people from learning how to read!  I don't know if that is true or not, but, what I do know, is that there has been tons of research done by some very intelligent people (several that I know personally) on how teaching phonics as a way to read and spell works. And, I know from experience that it works! That's why I was excited to find that All About Spelling is based on the Orton-Gillingham phonics method.

All About Spelling has broken the English language down to basic sounds. The letter or letters that make those sounds are called phonograms. The other thing that I was very excited to learn was that All About Spelling uses a multi-sensory approach. It is true that some kids are visual learners, some are auditory learners and some are hands on learners, but people learn best when they use a combination of those techniques. That's what All About Spelling does! They may have you seeing a sound on a "Phonogram Card", listening to that sound and how to spell it, then repeating it back to the teacher, then manipulating letter tiles to spell the sound all in the same lesson.

The first 26 phonograms that the student learns are the first 26 letters of the alphabet. Other phonograms - such as ch, sh, and th will be learned later. When you learn the phonograms, you learn all of the sounds that phonogram makes at the same time. For example, the letter o can make four different sounds. Since I don't know how to type the long and short sounds on the computer, let me tell you using key words. O can make one sound in the word "odd" then another in the word "open", another in the word "to" and still another in the word "oven". When you learn all of the sounds that a letter makes at once, it will help the student recall them because they were learned together and all stored in the same area of the brain.

As the student progresses, he will also be dictated words to spell and given techniques for knowing which letters to use to spell those words. He learns syllabication and basic spelling rule such as the silent e rule - you drop the silent e when adding a suffix beginning with a vowel, you keep the silent e when adding a suffix beginning with a consonant. Your student will read it, say it, hear it, manipulate it, and write it! Perhaps not all in the same lesson, but eventually all methods will be used to teach that sound or rule.

By this time you may be thinking that this sounds really hard. It's not hard at all! All About Spelling has done all the work for you. Their kits have everything you need, and their manuals have it word for word what you should say and what you should do. The lessons are short and should be able to be completed in less than 15-20 minutes. The kit even includes encouragers like a progress report so that your student can keep track of how much he has accomplished, and a certificate to keep when a level is completed. The only thing that is optional (but quite practical) that they suggest is a magnetic dry erase board that you can use the magnetic letter tiles with.

Ok, now you might be thinking that a "kit" for a very well researched program like this is probably very expensive. Wrong again! The Starter Kit that includes the sound CD (so that you can hear the proper way to say the sounds), letter tiles, and magnets (if you should choose to attach them to the tiles) is just $26.95. The materials in the Starter Kit can be used with multiple students. The Level One Materials - teachers manual, and letter cards for level one - is $29.95. You may think that you can use the cards with more than one student, but it would be difficult with the reviewing etc., so they have extra Level One student material packs for $14.95. Since the levels do not correspond with a grade anyway, they encourage all students to begin with Level One in order for them to have a firm foundation before going on to the other levels. Right now they have 5 levels with a sixth coming out soon. Although we have not used Level Two or above yet, I do know that the cost of those is a little higher, but still a reasonable $39.95 each level's manual and initial student material pack and $19.95 for extra student packs. You don't need to continue ordering the Starter Kit. It can be used for all levels.

As you can tell, I am a big fan of All About Spelling. I had been looking for a good spelling program for Joshua and I am so glad that All About Spelling sent me, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, all of the materials needed for Levels One and Two for free in order to use and review on this blog. I'll tell you more about Level Two when we get to it. To find out more about All About Spelling, just click here, or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. To find out what the other Crew members are saying about All About Spelling, click here.  Happy homeschooling.  

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:26 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, 5 December 2009 12:59 AM CST
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