The spelling program that we use is a series called Spelling Workout by Modern Curriculum Press. As I type this review I am happy to announce that Princess Bella just finished level B (2nd Grade) and is checking our mailbox every day for Level C to arrive, she just can’t wait.
And that simple fact alone (the fact that she can’t wait to get her hands on a brand new spelling book) is one of the reasons why we continue to use this program.
I give this program FOUR OLIVE TREES!!!
Secular / Stand Alone / Workbook Based / Grades 1 – 8
Spelling Workout is divided into eight different levels ( A -G) which translates into grade levels 1st – 8th. The first six levels focus heavily on phonics and then moves the student into other things such as root words, suffixes, prefixes, and homonyms. The last two levels deal more with word origin and dictionary skills.
Each level is divided into 36 lessons. Each lesson includes six activities including:
- an introductory article using the spelling words (this is seen in levels A -F only),
- Word List
- Two puzzle activities (word clues, finish the story, crossword puzzle, etc)
- Proofreading activity
- Writing response
Levels A and B have word list that are 10 spelling words long. Level C introduces children to a 15 word list. Also, in the middle of Level B the word list is written in both print and cursive.
How I Use The Program:
I started this review sharing how much my daughter enjoys this programs so I thought it a good idea to share with you just how I use it.
For starters, we focus on a lesson a week. That means every Monday we start a new list and on Fridays she takes her test. I always do the introduction activity with her, which introduces the theme of the list. This includes going over the title, reading the article, the TIP section and finally the wordlist itself. We pretty much do all of this at one time and it usually takes between 10 – 15 minutes.
Then for the rest of the week she is assigned one activity a day along with studying her wordlist. When we first started Level A I sat with her and assisted her with the activities. By the time she got to Level B she started to do them independently and I assist her as needed.
One of the reasons why she does so well with this independently is because it is very systematic. The order is known to her so she is free to focus on the new content, the list words.
In addition to the activities, I also have her write 3-4 sentences daily using one of her words. In the beginning I crafted the sentences and she copied them. I moved from that to her composing a sentence using at least one of her words. I did tell her that she can use more than one word in a sentence, which also means less sentences—she loves this challenge.
The day before her spelling test (usually Thursdays) we do a pre-test. I try to make the pre-test as fun and interactive as possible. It is also an opportunity for her to earn a piece of candy for herself and her sisters. Needless to say, they are always on the sidelines cheering her on. Some of the games we play are:
- Word Scramble – I give alphabet magnets (you can use cards, whatever you have) and she has to put the letters in proper order to correctly spell the word,
- Be the Teacher – She pulls a word out of a box and she has to ‘teach’ me the word. After, I take a test and she corrects it WITHOUT looking at the book. I always get at least three words wrong. She absolutely loves playing teacher, and I enjoy being the student!
- Vocabulary Game – In this game I say the definition of the word and she has to write the correct spelling word that matches the definition.
In addition to the pre-test games, she also plays games with her list online (and on my phone) through SpellingCity. This is always a fun thing for her to do and I love they have an APP, which means on-the go learning.
We do not do the last activity in the lessons, the Writing Activity. This is the one part of the program that does not really impress me—so I have chosen to forgo it. My main reasons are there is not enough scaffolding for her (writing process steps) to help think about, organize and write a response and there is not enough space to write which is distracting for her. Instead I give her my own writing assignments (in addition to the sentences throughout the week). During Level B I presented her with a topic (usually on Wednesdays) and we had conversations about it. After our brief chitchat (this helped to get the juices flowing) I have her look at her spelling words and pick out words that would fit with the topic. Next she organizes her thoughts (this is usually on Thursday) and finally she writes her polished response. Her responses started out as one sentence and they have grown over time. With this activity I expect her to properly use the spelling word, to properly spell the word and to properly write a sentence (according the grammar rules learned thus far). In Level C, she will write to a topic (prompt) at the end of her spelling test on Fridays, this will be a change for her but I believe she is ready for it.
What does Princess Bella have to say about Spelling Workout?:
I like it. It’s fun and not overwhelming!
I have found the program to be highly effective. The primary goal—getting her to learn how to spell properly is surely reached. It also is effective because it is a standalone program and thus does allow for me to add and delete how I see fit without taking anything away from the structure of the program. This is very important to me as I always tinker with curriculums.
I find this program to be completely accessible for both the child and the adult. There are no teacher manuals and pre-work that you have to do. However, if your child struggles with dyslexia or other learning challenges, then this program may not be the best fit for your needs.
The workbooks are certainly affordable. You can order a new copy for about $18.00. Your child will write in the workbook so you will have to purchase a new book for each child. You only need to purchase the student workbook. I purchase mine at amazon.com.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Also, if you use (or used) Spelling Workout, I would love to learn about your experience in the comments section below.
I hope this review has been helpful, and as always…
Stay Encouraged & Be Blessed!