I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

All About Spelling, Level 1 Review

All About Spelling, Level 1 Review

For the first few years of her education, it was quite apparent that while my Sweetie Pea (4th grade) looooooved and excelled at reading and language arts, she struggled to enjoy and thrive at spelling. There seemed to be a disconnect between her ability to read phonetically and her ability to spell phonetically. This was later confirmed with the results of her mandatory state achievement tests. Although she scored at EXACTLY grade level for spelling, all her other language skills far exceeded that.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

We had been using ABeka Spelling. And although she enjoyed the program in the early years, it was becoming exceedingly obvious that she NO LONGER liked it...or spelling in general, for that matter. Now, I am not one to jump ship on a curriculum simply because a child has a bad attitude about a subject. Sometimes the lesson of perseverance far outweighs the lesson of phonics...or math...or whatever. But, I also wanted to nurture her love of writing and the written word by improving her ABILITY to write correctly...with proper spelling.

So after coming upon a few on-line recommendations and a couple of "real life" ones from a few veteran homeschool moms, I made the decision to order All About Spelling's Deluxe Spelling Interactive Kit and Spelling Level 1. Although Level 1 is primarily designed for beginner spellers (think K-5 or first grade), I knew this was going to be a program with a very revolutionary approach to spelling. I did not want her to miss any initial steps by starting out at Level 4. My plan was to quickly work our way through the first couple of levels until she was AT or NEAR Level 4 by the end of fourth grade. And then work through Levels 4 and 5 the following year.

All About Spelling, Level 1 Review
Deluxe Spelling Interactive Kit, Level 1

All About Spelling is a multi-sensory program based on the Orton-Gillingham approach of learning. As spelling is one of the rare subjects that I do prefer to use a MASTERY approach, All About Spelling seemed like a natural choice. It is phonetically based which provides the skills necessary to be able to spell ANY word...not just a prescribed list of "age appropriate" ones. Unlike other spelling programs, there are no weekly spelling lists to memorize and no tests to cram for.

Level 1 is broken down into 24 STEPS. Each step introduces one of the first initial phonetical rules of spelling.

Although the Teacher's Manual does not include or suggest a particular rate at which a child should progress through each lesson, it seems reasonable to assume that on average, a child should have a solid grasp of each STEP by the end of each week. Because mastery is the goal, you as the teacher, have the luxury of slowing down...or as in our case...speeding up the program to suite the needs of your child.

All About Spelling, Level 1 Review
Letter Tiles

For the most part, each STEP consists of a few review suggestions, the new lesson which introduces a new phonetical sound or rule, some words to practice, and a list of reinforcement words for further practice.

Children are encouraged to spell using small magnetic tiles that are color-coded according to the learned rules.

A well-ordered Spelling Review Box is included and is designed to show which sounds, rules, and words a child has mastered, which need to be reviewed, and which have not been learned...AT A GLANCE.

All About Spelling, Level 1 Review
Spelling Review Box 

What I liked

I certainly can appreciate the fact that my daughter can learn at HER OWN PACE. No more worrying about keeping up with a pre-determined format of lessons. She is just wrapping up Level 2 and will be beginning Level 3 by the end of the month.

Whereas most spelling programs focus on ONE list of words per week, All About Spelling has a wonderful review focus. The goal is to learn to spell...not just memorize a list of words for Friday's test only to forget them all by the following Monday. It breaks the process of spelling down into its CORE elements. Having a set of rules and absolutes helps to make spelling a very BLACK and WHITE subject...and surprisingly, there is a sense of safety and freedom in a boundary. My daughter's confidence level has greatly increased and in turn, so has her ability to spell correctly.

I desire her to be a life-long speller. In order to do that, she has to have a firm grasp of phonetical rules and concepts. That is most DEFINITELY a goal of this program.

The New Concept portion of the Teacher's Manual is laid out very clearly. In fact, much of it has verbal suggestions for the teacher to say in order to teach the new rule/sound correctly.

In addition, the program comes with a 100% money-back guarantee and a lifetime support via a support forum and an extensive resource center packed with all kinds of helpful tools. Who doesn't love that?!

All About Spelling, Level 1 Review
Level 1 Teacher's Manual

A few things to consider

Although we used Level 1, my Sweetie Pea is in the fourth grade and has tested AT the national level for fourth grade spelling. Naturally, Level 1 came easy for her...bolstering her confidence and improving her overall taste for spelling. I look forward to seeing how this progresses as she reaches higher levels and is introduced to more difficult concepts.

The review cards come on a 8 1/2 x 11 format with multiple perforated cards to a sheet. These, as well as the magnetic tiles, have to be punched out by hand. This is not ideal, but certainly do-able.

With such a thorough review, the program does take a bit longer to implement each day than I had previously allotted for spelling. (Granted, we ARE doing one STEP per DAY, as opposed to per WEEK in order to zip through the concepts she already knew.) It will be interesting to see how easy/difficult it is to teach four or five DIFFERENT levels of spelling once they begin the program. But, as I have so far been impressed with the outcome, I plan to start my first grade son at Level 1 next year.

While my daughter is an auditory leaner and does not necessarily NEED the visual and kinesthetic help of letter tiles, I do think they make for a more enjoyable lesson. And, I can definitely see how helpful they would be for other learning styles.
All About Spelling, Level 1 Review

The Nitty-Gritty

All About Spelling Level 1

retails for $29.95
includes the following
  • a Teacher's Manual
  • a Student Packet 

Deluxe Spelling Interactive Kit

retails for $49.95
includes the following:
  • 108 color-coded 1" letter tiles and divider tiles
  • magnets to attach to the letter tiles
  • The Basic Phonograms CD-ROM
  • spelling review box
  • spelling divider cards with tabs
  • spelling tote bag
  • a set of sparkling bee stickers
To learn more about the program or to download free samples of the lessons, be sure to visit All About Spelling.


  1. We are using AAS Level 1 for my Kindergardener and it's going great! I'm still feeling my way through it, but she is grasping it quickly and I think it will work great for us. It's a neat approach to spelling!

    1. I think so, too. And isn't that the whole point of teaching spelling...so that they can actually SPELL!

  2. I'm so glad to read of someone else trying Level 1 with an older child! I have a 1st grader, but also a 9-year old with mild dyslexia. For her, reading is a struggle, but spelling is a NIGHTMARE! Spelling lists and writing words again and again doesn't help in the least. I just recently began AAS Level 1 with my two children together and am loving it thus far! It seems to be helping my 1st grader grow more confident in his spelling, but I feel the multi-sensory approach is helping my 9-year old segment the words and recognize the individual sounds in ways she's not been able to do until now.

    1. One of the "real life" veteran moms who recommended it to me was a special ed teacher for years and she said if she were to ever go back to teaching in the classroom, this would be the curriculum she would use for Dyslexia and a few other learning struggles.

  3. We love AAS! My first grader is on level one. My sister began homeschooling her children this year and started on level one with her 3rd grader so they wouldn't miss anything. I am planning yo use all 7 levels. Excellent review.

    1. Thanks. And thanks for giving your opinion too. I think it will be helpful for others to know that it's not just me. It really is a good program.

  4. We had to change Spelling this year for our younger two for the same reason. I chose AAS because of the importance of learning the phonics rules and the great reviews I read for struggling spellers. It has worked out great for us.

  5. I am so glad to have read this! I have been contemplating a chance to AAS for my 5th grader (struggles like crazy with spelling) and my first grader, but have been hesitant due to the higher cost. I feel more confident after reading the review and the comments, so thanks!

    1. Glad the review helped. Good luck with whatever you choose! AAS certainly isn't for everyone, but we've really liked it and will be using it with our three oldest next year...each at their own individual level.

  6. Does each individual child need his/her own box for the cards? If not, how do you keep track of who has mastered what card?

  7. Heather I have not used this program yet. I am def getting it for my 3 boys next year. I have read from some other reviews to use different colored paper clips to keep track of all the kids. :)

  8. How big of a board do you feel that you need? They recommend 2'x3' but I wonder if it could be effective with something smaller. Thanks.

    1. I didn't have room for another board, so I am using the front of my metal storage cabinet. You need room to leave all of the tiles up in a certain order and room to pull them into the middle to spell. The main letters probably do take up almost 3 feet. I have read of some that don't hang the board and store behind a cabinet or bookshelf when not in use.

    2. That's actually what we do. I stick the board behind a cabinet in my dining room. Every now and then some of the tiles fall off when I move the board, but not often.



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