When we first started homeschooling, spelling was one subject that I thought I could easily handle with a workbook. We trudged through many years of Abeka spelling books and then switched to Spelling Workout for a few years with the youngest boys. By the time I reached my third child, spelling lists and tests had begun to try my patience. It seemed silly for them to be studying words for whole week that they already knew how to spell. It did not seem like an efficient use of time so I started to look for some new method of working on spelling.
In my research I discovered Spelling Power and I ordered the book. I tried to look at the cost of the book as an investment, an investment in the last spelling system I would ever have to purchase. Turns out it was an investment in building confident spellers.
The system is easy to start at any age, ability, or time of year using the Quick Start Steps in the beginning of the book. The Spelling Power system uses a placement test to place each child at the appropriate level in the book. Your child then starts working on a short list of words by pre-testing the next list in the book and eliminating any words they already know. So each list of words is made even more manageable and your child only studies words he is unfamiliar with each week. A thorough study of spelling is done in 15 minutes per day.
Spelling Power uses the 5,000 most frequently used and misspelled words. Each Spelling Power level is organized around spelling rules. Your child is memorizing the spelling rule as he goes along. For instance you can have a list built on the rule, “Consonant letters are often doubled after a short vowel in short vowel words such as egg, fluff, sniffle, and mess”. Each day that you work on this list, you review the rule and work on a few more words. Most rules are covered in multiple levels so you will have plenty of review of each rule as you work from year to year.
Each word shows up on several lists so there is also a built in review. This is something that really drew me to Spelling Power. The ability to test retention in a painless way is already designed into their spelling lists. There is little chance of your child only learning a word once for a test and then forgetting it.
The Spelling Power study plan is based on providing various means of getting the word imprinted in the brain using a preset method each day. Each day’s activities starts with having the child pronounce the word correctly with the assumption that many times a child misspells a word because he is not pronouncing it properly. The method is the same for all ages from the youngest to the oldest. Once you learn the routine, your spelling is the same from year to year.
The daily routine goes something like this and even though it sounds like a lot, it only takes a few minutes to do with a short list.
*Pronunciation-say the word properly out loud
*Cover and Spell-write the word, cover it, write it again, check it
*Tactile Spelling-use your finger to trace the word on some textured surface like sandpaper or rough clothing
*Visualize Word-close your eyes and mentally spell the word on your mind’s “chalkboard”
After this process, you then complete a short activity to cement the spelling into the child’s memory. The Appendix of the Spelling Power book lists dozens of short spelling activities. Each year that we used this book, I would go through the lists and pick appropriate activities for the boys to choose from each day to study their spelling words. These activities are in addition to the process listed above.
I made index cards with each of my approved activities and they would choose from the stack of cards how to study each day. Here are a few we used over the years. (Please note that you can purchase a whole box of spelling activity cards to go along with your Spelling Power book if you don’t want to make up your own cards.)
*Write your words with dry erase markers on the window or mirror.
*Write your words on the sidewalk with chalk.
*Use the Scrabble letters, sticker letters, or a labelmaker to spell your words.
*Pronounce and spell your words into a tape recorder.
*String your words with the letter beads.
*Write your words in sentences.
*Use graph paper and make a “crossword” with your spelling words.
The whole spelling process took ten to fifteen minutes a day. I know that seems like we did a lot in a short period of time but with an average of five words to study each day, proper training, and having your activities organized you really are very efficient.
No more mindless workbooks or studying words they already knew how to spell. Spelling became easier and less stressful for all involved.
The book provides all the spelling lists from beginner to advanced in one volume. All the master worksheets are provided using various line spacing so you can print off appropriate pages for young and old.
Now that my boys are finished with Spelling Power and in high school I rarely need to correct their spelling. If they happen to misspell a word, I can usually point it out to them and have them correct it. The rules learned in Spelling Power have trained them well enough to get even complicated spellings correct or at least really close so they can look it up in the dictionary.
This multi-level, multi-year program is self-paced and a great value for families. It was the last spelling program we ever purchased.
Written by Barb-Harmony Art mom. She also blogs at http://www.harmonyartmom.blogspot.com