All About Spelling

16 Apr

I have learned that the worst thing you can do…a sure-fire way of ruining a curriculum…is to tell everyone how great it is. At least, that’s been my experience. Several times I have posted about a curriculum, singing its praises to the sky, only to find a few weeks later that it’s no longer working for us. Okay, this hasn’t happened every time, but it’s happened often enough that I should know by now to hold my tongue until we’ve used something for a good long time and are sure we’re going to stick with it.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing. And a few months ago, I ranted and raved about Sequential Spelling, which we were half-way through at the time. Well, guess what? We’ve dropped it.

It just became such a drudgery. We both dreaded doing spelling and there was evidence that not much learning was taking place any longer. It became necessary to do a lot of drill because there isn’t enough built-in review. One of the things that I really don’t like about the programme are all the homophones. Lesson 97, for example, contains all these:

  • Heel
  • Heal
  • Peel
  • Peal
  • Steel
  • Steal
  • Serial
  • Cereal

Then, a few lessons later:

  • Brake
  • Break
  • Steak
  • Stake

And it continues, throughout the book.

How on earth is a young student supposed to keep all of those straight? It’s craziness.

Esa and I both became so sick of it. It was eating into our time to do other things, and as I said, the lessons just weren’t sticking very well.

We dropped spelling and the sun came out once again. It was like this huge weight had been lifted…we both looked forward to lessons more and we had so much more time for other things.

However, I wasn’t comfortable having no spelling in our homeschool for too long, so I decided to have another look at All About Spelling.

I was tempted by  this programme before because I really like the idea of learning the rules behind spelling. There were times during our phonics lessons when I wondered why a certain pattern is followed…I could see the pattern, but I didn’t understand why.

We’ve begun with level 1, and even though Esa can already spell all of the words presented in the first level, there are skills and rules presented that he doesn’t know. He also couldn’t tell me all the sounds that the letter “A” makes…or any of the other vowels. It’s also a good way of getting him used to the programme before moving on to more difficult material. We’re cruising through the 24 steps, doing about 2 a week. We’ve just finished step 4 and so far Esa’s enjoying it. I’m allowing him to do all the writing on the dry erase board, which makes a nice change from paper and pencil. It’s too early to say if it’s working, but it’s fun.

We’ve been doing a lot of phonics review because even though Esa’s reading well, there are certain phonics rules he’s forgotten or hasn’t mastered. I was going to order Explode the Code and work through that series from level 4 onwards, but AAS is not only a spelling programme, but works to reinforce phonics instruction as well.

I wasn’t really looking forward to using manipulatives and cards, but it’s not as fiddly as I’d feared. It’s scripted so I don’t have to spend ages reading and planning the lesson ahead of time.  Esa really looks forward to spelling, and honestly, so do I. ♥


Posted by on April 16, 2011 in Second Grade, Spelling


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5 responses to “All About Spelling

  1. Neo

    April 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    All About Spelling has been working for us. Glad you’re finding it useful too. We work very slowly on it — about one step per week. The rules of spellings, as taught this programme, have been very effective to teach spelling without the need to memorise. Good luck with the programme!

    • whimsyway

      April 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

      Thanks, Neo. 🙂

  2. Elsie Hickey Wilson

    April 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Hi, Michelle and Esa,
    So glad you are sensitive to what is working and what is not! Keeping the learning and the joy alive is wonderful and does work better in the long run!

  3. Wonder in the Woods

    April 28, 2011 at 1:16 am

    This is really helpful, thank you. I just got AAS for my 1st grader. He is not loving step 1 and memorizing 4 different sounds for a letter is just confusing him because he is an emerging reader and not established with reading yet. Maybe that is why. So I am either going to skip ahead or wait to use it. It’s funny that you also mention sequential spelling because I just met someone who uses it. I’m glad to know more about it before I track it down and buy it…. Also, Simply Charlotte Mason has a spelling program that looks good but I haven’t tried it. If AAS is just not working for us, I think I will try SCM.

    • whimsyway

      April 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

      Hang in there with AAS. When you get to step 4 (or thereabouts), you work on the short sounds only. Later it builds. It’s not necessary to memorise all the sounds for each vowel just yet. 🙂


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