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Saturday, May 27, 2017

How We Homeschool: Spelling (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

This subject has been one that gives me a great amount of frustration! It took us a long time to find what worked for my children, and I still feel there must be something better for one of my children.

Way back when my two oldest went to a charter school, they used Words Their Way. My son's second grade teacher sent notes home frequently because the class wasn't doing well on tests, so apparently they weren't practicing at home. My daughter's fourth grade class was using the same program, and it seemed to be going better for her, or at least she didn't come home feeling bad about spelling like my son always did. Which is strange, he's a natural speller but the method the teacher was using, and the failure she was projecting onto the entire class was affecting him.

When we started homeschooling, I had researched and decided Spelling Power would work best for us. Yeah, that didn't go so well. I followed that method exactly and both kids would repeatedly misspell words they had learned. And they strongly disliked this method. I switched things up a bit and still, not our favorite. I figured, why not go back to what worked, when implemented properly? So I researched the homeschool version of Words Their Way and didn't like it. I then bought the public school version of Words Their Way, did placement tests, and read SO MUCH about how to implement it at home. Guess what? Things went a lot better. Tactile word sorts and practice methods are fun. But we still weren't completely satisfied, there were still some spelling rules they didn't grasp from the levels they had passed long ago.

My third child, who has always been homeschooled, loved using All About Reading. So we naturally chose All About Spelling for her. All About Spelling needed a daily practice portion added though, so I would combine practice methods we used in Spelling Power and word sorts as done in Words Their Way with All About Spelling and that is how we continue to use it today.
  • Monday: Introduce new lesson and practice words. Create a sort when applicable (for instance, add new ea words to ee words that child already learned)
  • Tuesday-Thursday: Ask child to explain new spelling rule/lesson. Do a spelling or practice activity from the list below. Dictate 4 sentences.
  • Friday: Test, Writing Station (from the book)

All About Spelling

It was going great, and I could see where the older two would benefit from using it too. I started doing Level 1 with them. That was a bad idea. Having a 4th and 6th grader start in what was supposedly a first grade book was something they didn't like. It was hard to do for me too, they sped through the first book and complained most of the time. But, they were quickly nearing the end of Words Their Way and needed something that would help fill in the gaps!

This was around the time that we started seeing the benefits of using Institute for Excellence in Writing products, so I decided to try Phonetic Zoo, their spelling program. My kids LOVE this spelling program, and guess what... I see that it is helping them! They can do it without much help from me, so everyone is happily working independently. The only issue I have with the program is the spelling rules and "jingles" are difficult to understand. I'm glad we're using All About Spelling for the younger two kids because I use the rules, phonograms, and "key cards" from that program to help the kids understand the "jingles" in Phonetic Zoo.

When school starts in the fall I will have two kids using Phonetic Zoo and two kids using All About Spelling with Words Their Way style sorts added and plenty of extra activities and practice methods. Some of our favorite practice methods are: (always spelling out loud with each method)
  • Writing on the big whiteboard
  • Using the All About Learning tiles
  • Using letter magnets
  • Making a word search for Mom to do
  • Painting spelling words
  • Rainbow writing
  • Using Can Do Cubes
  • Writing on a paper/whiteboard and using Forbrain
  • Spelling words in the air or on the desk
  • Spelling words on a sandpaper board
  • Spelling words in a box of salt

I still have one child who I struggle to find a perfect method for. My oldest is not an auditory person, so Phonetic Zoo isn't the best fit. She does enjoy using it, but the rules don't stick and she's on her second time through level B while her younger (auditory) brother is halfway through level C. That's perfectly fine, and she's okay with it, but sometimes it's frustrating. She has tried to teach herself All About Spelling, but it's hard to fit spelling twice into an already busy day.

All About Learning Press 

How do you do spelling?

A Net In Time Schooling


  1. I love your list of activities. Have you tried finger spelling with ASL?

  2. Spelling was one of those subjects that really stumped my kids. We tried so many different approaches and then tried Apples - that worked really well and they learned scripture at the same time (or they just somehow figured it all out - I am not sure which).

  3. Spelling...this is a half and half topic in our days. Moe Man is an excellent speller, Ray Ray wants nothing to do with it...I may have to try All About Spelling with him.