While my oldest and I were slogging through the first year of Learning language Arts through Literature, I felt the need to add a spelling program to our routine. So I hit the internet and researched our options. One program seemed to stand out: All About Spelling (AAS). It was very difficult to find a negative review for the program, and even on reviews for other programs, I kept seeing recommendations for AAS. So I decided to give it a shot. According to the reviews, the program wasn’t just a list-a-week kind of program, instead it was supposed to be a systematic and logical rule-based program. I really liked the sound of that.
To get started with AAS, you start with level 1 (no mater the age of your student) and a spelling kit. The kit gets used for all 7 levels of the program. The basic kit I got was $30, and the level one book was $30 as well. This was more than I really wanted to spend for a spelling program, but all the fabulous reviews encouraged me to give it a try anyway.
When I got the program, I was tasked to separate what seemed like 3,000,000 index cards (actually more like 250) , as well as separate and put magnets on the back of letter tiles. It took one evening to get ready, and wasn’t that bad. However, implementing the program looked kind of intimidating. Did you know the letter y makes four sounds? I didn’t, but I suddenly had to know each of them, and how to pronounce them correctly for my student. Also, the curriculum is divided into lessons, but they aren’t traditional lessons designed to done one each day. Level one is 24 lessons that take as long as they need to take. This is actually really great for flexibility. It allows you to teach older and younger students with the same program and make it just right for either. For a home school Mom of a month and half, this was less hand-holding than I felt comfortable with.
My problems were not insurmountable. Happily, the kit comes with a phonogram CD-rom. It tells you how to pronounce each sound for each letter or letter team. Also, they have a lovely free app you can snag for your phone and/or tablet with all the phonogram sounds. I use a tablet often in school, so this was a perfect fit. My son and I learned our sounds together. He actually learned the sounds faster than I did (this made it tricky to test him). As far as the pacing – I figured that out with far less difficulty than I had expected. After just a few lessons we were into the swing of things nicely.
As we worked through the program, I became a AAS fangirl. I was learning spelling rules I had never been taught in school. All of the level one words were well within my spelling ability, naturally. However, I had learned to spell them on a case-by-case basis, with memorization alone. It was exciting to learn when to use a c and when to use a k to make a /k/ sound. There’s a rule for that! I had no idea.
The letter tiles were really amazing. My son suddenly gained years of spelling ability when he was at the whiteboard pushing the little magnetic letter tiles around. I loved the hands-on component to the spelling. By far, it seemed to be the best teaching tool for him. The dictation drills added a good integration to real writing, and the flashcards were handy for quick reference or drills. The variety of tools at our disposal really takes the program from helpful to great.
Now the program hasn’t been perfect. I do have some trouble getting my son to remember his rules outside of spelling time. We’re working on that, but he has proven he can spell, he just needs to remember to. Also, some of our letter tiles are starting to show some wear after a year and a half. I’ll probably have to buy more of them, especially when the youngest starts in on spelling. So much for one kit for seven years.
Overall, this program is a must buy. It’s going to be on my list each year. As an added bonus, each level is really just a teacher’s book and some flashcards. That means that if you save the flashcards between students, you don’t have anything to buy past the initial purchase. No consumable workbooks make me a happy Mom.
Pros: Logical, systematic, flexible, covers many learning styles, non-consumable materials, no daily prep work for teacher
Cons: High price for start-up, tedious set-up