Language Arts - Spelling

The Phonetic Zoo: A Self-Teaching Spelling Program (Advanced level)

Book cover: 'The Phonetic Zoo: A Self-Teaching Spelling Program (Advanced level)'
Author(s):
James Webster
Author(s):
Andrew Pudewa
Publisher:
Institute for Excellence in Writing
Subject(s):
Spelling
Grade / Age level:
High School
Resource Type:
CD Audio
Review:

The Phonetic Zoo is an auditory (CD) based spelling program that includes at each level 5 Audio CD's (540 rule-based spelling words), 47 5 ½"x 8 ½" flashcards teaching the most important spelling rules and similar set of 2 �" x 3 5/8" (illustrated) zoo cards, an introductory DVD, and a pamphlet that explains the basics of the program.

Each lesson begins with the speaker reading the rule followed by a 15 word list that includes the speaker repeating the rule every three words. After each word is presented, the student is given enough time to write down the word without feeling rushed. The word list is repeated along with the correct spelling. The student writes the correct spelling next to his word as an accuracy check, noting which words he misspelled. He then studies those words and listens to the same list (CD track) on subsequent days until he correctly spells all list words two times.

Upon first listening to the CDs I thought the program moved too slowly and that my children would find it boring. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was wrong. In retrospect realize that I found it slow and boring because I already knew the words, but for a student just learning the rules and word spelling it moved at just the right pace.

Phonetic Zoo provides different rules from Spelling Power that were quickly learned by our oldest child (who is not naturally a good speller.) At the beginning of eighth grade (after completing Level H in Spelling Power) he worked through the entire Phonetic Zoo high school level in 3 months and was able to apply the spelling rules in his essays. We did a follow up test to the effectiveness of Phonetic Zoo by using the final Spelling Power lists. He missed less then 5% of all words on the last two levels of Spelling Power, and the words missed were rated as being college level. For our family Phonetic Zoo is an ideal program for older students who are yearning for independence and are anxious to "be done" with spelling lessons. This review is of the "Advanced" level of Phonetic Zoo. The IEW website contains an auditory placement test that is accurate in determining which level to purchase.

Reviewed By:
Andrea Chen
Review Date:
12-3-01

Spelling for Young Catholics

Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

Seton Home Study has published a full line of Catholic spelling texts. Unfortunately, we have a difficult time providing reviews because we wish only to review the most recent editions and Seton revises their books frequently. You may view sample pages of these books on Seton's Website.

Spelling Power

Author(s):
Beverly L. Adams-Gordon
Copyright:
1999
Publisher:
Castlemoyle Books
Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

This review of Spelling Power includes a comparison with Phonetic Zoo and My Catholic Speller.

Spelling Power is a single volume, non-consumable resource for teaching spelling to children (and adults) of all ages. It includes over 5,000 spelling words organized by rule and difficulty level, dozens of activities to help the child remember the correct spelling, extensive notes explaining how and why the program was designed and a clear explanation of how the program is to be used.

Unique to this program is the built in review of misspelled words and the use of words that are most frequently misspelled by students on essay exams. Students also study only those words that they don't know, unlike other programs that require the student to study both familiar and unfamiliar words.

The program begins with the student taking a placement test to determine what "level" they will be using. Following placement, the student spends 15 minute each day studying spelling. Each session begins with the parent reads a list of words to the student for 5 minutes. The student spends the next 5 minutes going through a series of review stages with the misspelled words that research has found helps students retain the correct spelling. The final 5 minutes are spent in fun activities that reinforce the correct spelling of misspelled words. We have found that our children, including one who is not naturally a good speller, did not need the last 5 minute activity block.

We have successfully used this program for many years and find it particularly suitable for grades 5-7. The program is flexible in that it allows for words that the child frequently misses on their own school work to be entered on to the spelling list. We've found that in grades 5-7 the children took Spelling Power more seriously then spelling workbooks (that is, they benefited from having the teacher looking over their shoulder while they were spelling to keep them on task) and it allows them to accelerate beyond other spelling programs by focusing on just those words that they don't know how to spell and is therefore time efficient. A drawback to this program is that it is teacher intensive. This is especially a problem for large families. We resolved this problem in our own home by using My Catholic Speller in grades 2-4 and the high school level of Phonetic Zoo when the child had finished level H in Spelling Power.

My Catholic Speller is an excellent spelling program for young children. Not only does it teach them the correct spelling of many words that they will be using in their writing, but it also imparts knowledge of and an interest in our Holy Faith. Our children enjoy using this program and are able to do so independently (after reading the list words aloud with a parent.) After completing Level D, our children have entered the Spelling Power program at above grade level. My Catholic Speller is available from Catholic Heritage Curriculum.

Phonetic Zoo is reviewed separately, however it should be noted that we found Spelling Power to advance children to the high school level of Phonetic Zoo rather quickly. There have been some debates about the appropriateness of the "rules" found in Spelling Power. Phonetic Zoo provides different rules that were quickly learned by our oldest child (who is not naturally a good speller.) At the beginning of eighth grade he worked through the entire Phonetic Zoo high school level in 3 months and was able to apply the spelling rules in his essays. We did a follow up test to the effectiveness of Phonetic Zoo by using the final Spelling Power lists. He missed less then 5% of all words on the last two levels of Spelling Power, and the words missed were rated as college level.

Reviewed By:
Andrea Chen
Review Date:
12-3-01
Available From:
Emmanuel Books

Spelling Power Activity Task Cards

Book cover: 'Spelling Power Activity Task Cards'
Author(s):
Beverly L. Adams Gordon
Publisher:
Castlemoyle Books
Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

The Spelling Power Activity Task Cards provide a multi-sensory approach to spelling instruction. (The activity cards are coded to indicate a visual, auditory, kinetic, and/or tactile instruction style.) Such an approach gives a child multiple ways to "retrieve" the phonics rules from his "mental filing cabinet." This approach is particularly well suited for children who have trouble retaining their spelling lessons, or have learning disabilities.

Though designed to accompany Spelling Power, this program can be used with any spelling textbook or list. Providing 365 activities, it is meant as a supplement for reinforcement, rather than as a complete spelling program. Most activities take only 5 or 10 minutes, though some children will want to take more time with the game or craft cards, and require little preparation from the parent. A few of the activities are designed to be done on successive days. They are also designed to be used by an individual child, but can be easily adjusted to be worked with a partner or by a group.

The activities are broken down into five categories: Drill Activities, Skill Builders, Writing Prompters, Dictionary Skills, and Homonyms & More. The activities are well-organized so that my children are able to work the program on their own with little help from me. Each activity is printed on a 3 by 5 card and color coded by ability level. A sturdy cardboard holder keeps the cards in order. A small teacher's manual is provided, which includes teaching tips and answers.

As my children complete the activities, I have them put a sticker on the back of the card. This gives them a feeling of accomplishment, especially when they go back through the cards to see how much they have done so far in a school year. Because there is such an abundance of activities, it is not necessary to do each and every activity. I let my children pick and choose their activity for a particular day. Since it is used as a supplement, I don't see any reason to be rigid in implementing the activity task cards. Instead, make it fun and introduce it to your children as a game to be played.

Additional notes:
Teacher's Manual included
Reviewed By:
Maureen Wittmann
Review Date:
5-16-02

Word Power Through Spelling: Catholic Edition

Book cover: 'Word Power Through Spelling: Catholic Edition'
Copyright:
1955
Publisher:
Neumann Press
Binding:
Softcover
Number of pages:
96 pages
Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

First Lesson Word List: a, big, dog, is, my
Final Lesson Word List: way, glad, happy, how, ten, stand, very, name, walked, train
Weekly lessons introduce a new word list (the number of words in the list increase as the book progresses) and gives practice writing and recognizing the words in the context of sentences and to describe illustrations. Some handwriting practice is included (including a page with directions for printing, and later in the text one for writing cursive letters). The text works a bit on the meaning of words but doesn't get into phonetic rules. A special format for keeping track of and practicing problem words allows the student to additional review throughout the text for problem areas. There are some instructions to the teacher at the beginning of the book which outline "how to study a missed word" and how the lesson plan is supposed to work. Directions to the students are intermixed with the text, but I found it difficult in a few places to determine what was to be done.

The text reminds me of the Rod and Staff workbooks, but with some Catholic content.

Perspective:
Catholic
Reviewed By:
Alicia Van Hecke
Review Date:
3-2-2000
Available From:
Neumann Press

My Very First Catholic Speller

Book cover: 'My Very First Catholic Speller'
Author(s):
Nancy Nicholson
Copyright:
2003
Publisher:
For Little Folks Press
Series:
My Catholic Speller
Binding:
Spiralbound
Number of pages:
61 pages
Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

This charming work text is designed to precede the My Catholic Speller series and would be appropriate for most First Graders. The book provides 27 two page lessons with six spelling words each. Spelling words include some Catholic words as well as the basics. Lessons provide opportunities for simple writing exercises (on appropriate sized writing lines with dotted center-lines as well as simple exercises in matching words and pictures, finding rhyming words, making up sentences, finding hidden words, simple alphabetization, etc. List words are grouped by vowel sounds, phonograms and simple spelling rules. The Introduction provides a simple outline for completing a lesson each week and a segment at the end of the book entitled "Presenting the Lesson" gives teaching tips and ideas for each lesson. The book also comes with an alphabet on heavy cardstock to cut out for a simple way that children can start putting letters together into words.

Perspective:
Catholic
Additional notes:
Binding details: softcover (spiralbound)
Copyrights 2001/2003
Donated for review by Catholic Heritage Curricula
Reviewed By:
Alicia Van Hecke
Review Date:
12-3-01

My Catholic Speller (Level A)

Book cover: 'My Catholic Speller (Level A)'
Author(s):
Nancy Nicholson
Copyright:
2003
Publisher:
For Little Folks Press
Series:
My Catholic Speller
Volume # or Level:
A
Binding:
Spiralbound
Number of pages:
70 pages
Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

I've always loved the simplicity and elegance with which Nancy Nicholson combines simple spelling lessons with lovely Catholic content. This content helps children make real connections between their faith and everyday life. My young children, especially, love the beautiful, colorful new covers and are even more receptive to the gentle style of these lessons.

Highlights of the series include word searches, crossword puzzles and the incorporation of short biblical apologetics lessons. I have run into many homeschool moms - even those who aren't generally inclined to use workbooks - who really like this program because of its beauty and simplicity. One helpful suggestion to reinforce phonics lessons, is to have children circle the phonograms in each of their spelling words when they first begin to study them.

First Lesson Word List: at, sat, hat, an, and, man, hand, am, Adam, Mass, is, it, hot, pot, stop

Final Lesson Word List: squeeze, squash, square, pineapple, sunshine, stoplight, pickup, bedtime, cupcake, sidewalk, downtown, upstairs, baseball, sailboat, campfire

This book is intended for the second grade.

Additional notes:
Copyrights 1998/2003
Donated for review by Catholic Heritage Curricula
Reviewed By:
Alicia Van Hecke
Review Date:
5-16-06

My Catholic Speller (Level B)

Book cover: 'My Catholic Speller (Level B)'
Copyright:
2003
Publisher:
For Little Folks Press
Series:
My Catholic Speller
Volume # or Level:
B
Binding:
Spiralbound
Number of pages:
82 pages
Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

This third grade spelling workbook incorporates fun word searches, crossword puzzles and other puzzles into gentle spelling lessons while elegantly tying in Catholic content. Dictionary work, fill-in-the blanks and some traditional spelling practice are also included.

This is the first book in the series to offer short biblical quotations in most lessons that can be used for memory or copywork and are coordinated with a segment for apologetics lessons in the back of the book, called "Scriptural Answers for Every Catholic Kid". For example, week twenty offers this quotation: "...but of that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father..." (Mark 13:32) The segment in back is a little more extensive:

Week Twenty: Jesus' Return
False teaching: Numerous cult leaders have set dates, most of which have come and gone, for Jesus' return.
Counter with: "...but of that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father..." (Mark 13:32)

First Lesson Word List: job, fog, frog, rock, cross, drop, modest, long, land, add, after, baptism, hang, rang, flag
Final Lesson Word List: hotter, hottest, sadder, saddest, sadden, gladden, bigger, biggest, rotten, hidden, happens, wetter, dimmer, sinner, fatten

An answer key is included in the back of the book. The book offers 34 weekly lessons, including a review lesson for each quarter.

Perspective:
Catholic
Additional notes:
Binding details: softcover (spiralbound)
Copyrights 1998/2003
Donated for review by Catholic Heritage Curricula
Reviewed By:
Alicia Van Hecke
Review Date:
5-16-06

My Catholic Speller (Level C)

Book cover: 'My Catholic Speller (Level C)'
Copyright:
2005
Publisher:
For Little Folks Press
Series:
My Catholic Speller
Volume # or Level:
C
Binding:
Spiralbound
Number of pages:
83 pages
Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

Level C, intended for use with fourth graders, incorporates a variety of fun and creative techniques to learn spelling words in 34 weeks of lessons. New list words are presented in both cursive and print. Crossword puzzles, fill-in-the blanks, dictionary work and word searches complement the recommended oral study, mid-week quiz and final test. Catholic content is elegantly woven into the text, helping children make connections between their faith and other subjects. Most notably, the "Scriptural Answers for Every Catholic Kid" provides regular memory and copywork with further details in back to create mini apologetics lessons.

First Lesson Word List: bell, smell, spell, mess, doll, egg, kettle, blend, twelve, Advent, lamp, fast, mantle, bank, past

Final Lesson Word List: photo, prophets, cough, laugh, orphan, enough, graph, stiff, Joseph, geography, nephew, suffix, rough, alphabet, gruff

An answer key is included in the back of the book. The book offers 34 weekly lessons, including a review lesson for each quarter.

Perspective:
Catholic
Additional notes:
Binding details: softcover (spiralbound)
Copyrights 1999/2005
Donated for review by Catholic Heritage Curricula
Reviewed By:
Alicia Van Hecke
Review Date:
5-16-06

My Catholic Speller (Level D)

Book cover: 'My Catholic Speller (Level D)'
Copyright:
2003
Publisher:
For Little Folks Press
Series:
My Catholic Speller
Volume # or Level:
D
Binding:
Spiralbound
Number of pages:
81 pages
Subject(s):
Spelling
Review:

This grade five worktext provides 34 lessons of spelling words with a review lesson each quarter. Approximately 20 list words are presented each week, in cursive writing, and many creative ways of practicing the words keep the lessons interesting. Apologetics lessons this year focus on quotes from the Fathers of the Church.

First Lesson Word List: valid, with, bishop, ministry, trip, craft, drill, cast, grip, limp, camp, dissent, gland, disturb, tickle, gather, visit, dampen, paten, Latin
Final Lesson Word List: fright, brought, brighten, heirs, height, bough, finger, heavy, fight, hundred, insight, delight, slight, drought, catch, caught, seek, sought, teach, taught

An answer key is included in the back of the book.

Perspective:
Catholic
Additional notes:
Binding details: softcover (spiralbound)
Copyrights 2000/2003/2005
Donated for review by Catholic Heritage Curricula
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