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Topic: Spelling reviews please

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Subject: Spelling reviews please
Date Posted: 6/8/2008 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2008
Posts: 114
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Short version:
Has anyone used SPELLING THROUGH PHONICS by Robert McCracken?
Comments or reviews please.

Long Version:
I have a 8 year old, great reader but below average speller. We started with CLP Building Spelling Skills in 1st grade. It was very difficult with 20 words per lesson and many seldom used words. Anyway I think we started off on the wrong foot and now she has no confidence in this area. We are currently using Rod & Staff 2nd grade and child is improving but still struggles. I want to start off better with my 6 year old and need some suggestions to help older child too. I am leaning towards NATURAL SPELLER for both but recently found a little blurb about SPELLING THROUGH PHONICS and would like more info about it.
Please offer your advice. Thanks.

Last Edited on: 6/8/08 5:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/12/2008 4:17 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2008
Posts: 22
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I am really happy with Bob Jones spelling programm, both of my children are did well on it. It reviews different word families, have dictionary study, practice writing. We just finished with 1 grade, but I have an older edition, so it might be hard to find a workbook for it.

Date Posted: 6/26/2008 3:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2007
Posts: 1,056
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We use "Spelling Power."  I like to individualize the spelling assignments.

Here's a link to a lot of spelling program reviews by homeschoolers at Homeschool Reviews.com


Here's another link to reviews of spelling resources at Cathyduffyreviews.com



I'm sorry, I have not heard of the program by Robert McCracken.

Last Edited on: 6/26/08 3:45 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: All About Spelling
Date Posted: 7/5/2008 1:42 AM ET
Member Since: 6/18/2007
Posts: 32
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If you child is struggling with spelling I would highly recommend checking All About Spelling. It is very easy to use and very well written.

Date Posted: 7/5/2008 1:31 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 181
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Hi, I taught my kids to read using an intensive phonics method. I also wanted spelling to be phonics based, sequential and progressing forward in a logical manner  based on spelling rules and phonics rules not just random sight words thrown together.


For a couple of years I used Natural Speller and I did like it. However it is set up with a word list by grade level. I found my son was doing spelling words that he already knew. This seemed like a waste of time to me. I then decided to change programs to Spelling Power...


Spelling Power and Natural Speller are similar in that they have words on a grade level and are grouped by phonics or spelling rules. Both programs cover material for grades 1-12 within one 'teacher's manual" (one mandatory purchase of a book is required and the same non-consumable book can be used with multiple students. One small difference is with Natural Speller she gives base words only and expects you to add in somewhere the endings run, running, runs. Somehow I missed that for a while and we were only doing the root word, run. Oops.

The major difference in the two programs is that with Spelling Power the child is pretested and begins at their level regardless of their age or grade level. Perhaps your child in grade 2 would be doing technically grade 3 work, or maybe your child is in grade 4 but struggles with spelling so has to start back in 3rd grade. Where they start is not always the beginning of that grade either, they may begin in the middle of the year or any point along the way (the placement test directions explain it all).  What matters is they are only studying the words they DON'T know. This saves time from practicing words and doing lessons based partly on words they don't know. See what I mean?


With Spelling Power at the start of the school year you do a placement test to find a starting point. The levels have letters but basically A is first grade, B second etc. Then each day the child does a 5 minute pretest with the spelling rule in that lesson. However many words they can get down on paper in that 5 minutes is what you go through. They then only study the words they got wrong, so maybe they did 22 words that day and got 3 wrong. They study just 3 words for about 10 minutes. So the whole spelling time is 10-20 minutes probably. The next day you start the 5 minute test with the 3 wrong words from yesterday and go forward on the spelling list in the Spelling Power book to find what else they don't know.


Criticisms of Spelling Power are that children who don't like being told what they don't know, focusing on what they don't know, kids with self-esteem issues and perfectionist children may dislike the program as they are daily studying the words that are challenging to them. THey don't get off easily by being asked to study words they already know. (Think back to when you were in school and you knew some of the spelling words and felt relieved to have it easy for those words.)

A few parents have complained they don't like the daily 5 minute test that requires parental interaction and they want a workbook program to send the child off alone to do their work in isolation. I don't know how you feel about that.

My Spelling Power (an older edition) has about 100 pages of directions which includes justification for this method of teaching spelling and spelling theory and how and why she used these words in this order. I found it overwhelming back then and boring reading to boot. A friend helped guide me toward the necessary parts that needed to be understood so as to begin using the program and I did that and ignored the rest of the theory talk.

We have used Spelling Power for over two years with two kids and I plan to use it for both kids this upcoming year also.

Spelling Power has activity cards that are optional to buy and use that adds more learning than the practice steps given in the basic program.

It seems that used copies of Spelling Power are always in demand so if you end up buying it and don't want it you can always resell it. I found my used copy at the swap and sale board at The Well Trained Mind website and it seems to always be in demand to buy used. Since the book costs over $50 new it is not often available on PBS and especially not the most current edition. Sometimes people are selling or looking for Natural Speller over on that site also, but that book is less expensive at $22 new.


I will throw in that I have been tempted to change to Spelling Workout since it is so highly praised by The Well Trained Mind. However the books use cursive written spelling words which is a different style than I am using with my kids so it is not good for us. Some people I know whose children hated Spelling Power due to the self-esteem issue switched over to Spelling Workout and the kids like it.

I also just found this review written by Susan Wise Bauer author of The Well Trained Mind about Spelling Power.



Each family has to find what works best for each child and the parent too. Good luck on your quest for the right spelling program!

Answering this question led me to stumble upon this EXCELLENT article about advice before and while reading reviews of homeschooling curriclum or books. This applies to reading reviews and opinions posted on discusson lists. This is by Susan Wise Bauer. Check this out too.




Last Edited on: 7/5/08 2:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/5/2008 2:34 PM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2008
Posts: 114
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Thanks to all who responded.  Christine, thanks for taking so much time to answer my question.  I did really like the article about reviews.   The cost factor does make Natural Speller more appealing than Spelling Power.  Since no one seems to know about Spelling through Phonics I requested it through inter-library loan, so if they find a copy I can review it myself.