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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

All About Spelling, Level 4: Spelling for the REAL World

All About Spelling: Spelling for the REAL World. This is my favorite spelling program. {The Unlikely Homeschool}

"I like the fact that spelling time isn't just a workbook with a bunch of words I have to memorize.  I'd rather learn HOW to spell than WHAT to spell." (Sweetie Pea, fifth grade)

Exactly, my dear girl! Exactly!

At only ten-years-old, my daughter has GOT IT!  In just two short sentences, she has masterfully worded the very ESSENCE of what spelling time should be about...learning HOW to spell.  (This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my full disclosure for details.*)

Unfortunately, all too often, spelling programs encourage children to master a random set of words that may or may not be relevant to him/her...or to ANYONE.  They teach a child WHAT to spell.  And while he/she might be able to set those prescribed words to memory and be able to parrot them back with perfection, he/she is unable to spell other, unfamiliar words with the same accuracy.  

Why?  Because memorizing one word only gives a child the ability to spell ONE WORD.  I'd rather focus on teaching my child the RULES of spelling in order that he/she might use those rules in order to spell a limitless amount of words.   

All About Spelling: Spelling for the REAL World {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Two years ago, when I stumbled upon All About Spelling, I exhaled.  

Finally!

Finally a spelling program that is designed to teach a child HOW to spell, not WHAT to spell.  I thought to myself.

At the time, my Sweetie Pea was an average speller.  Which, to be honest, was perfectly Okee-dokee by me.  But, as she excelled in ALL other language-oriented skills, her struggle with spelling was a bit of a head scratcher.  

All About Spelling seemed like a natural stepping stone towards better spelling mastery.  However, taking the plunge and beginning at Level 1, was a big decision.  It meant starting at ground zero when she was already in the fourth grade.  But, it also meant that a great foundation could be laid and built upon in the coming years.    

All About Spelling: Spelling for the REAL World {The Unlikely Homeschool}

I'm so glad I took the leap!

She has flown through levels 1 through 3 and has shown marked improvement in both her spelling ability and her desire to learn to spell.  

Now as we wind down with the last lessons of Level 4, I have the benefit of looking back over the past few months and reflecting on what has made this spelling program so successful.  

All About Spelling: Spelling for the REAL World {The Unlikely Homeschool}

What I like about All About Spelling, Level 4

...and really ALL the levels of All About Spelling.  (I am currently using levels 1, 2 and 4 with three of my children.)

Each lesson uses a natural progression of learning.

Every lesson begins with a short review of previously learned material.  Then, a new concept or spelling rule is introduced and practiced.  As the lesson progresses, the child is encouraged to use that spelling rule to spell out a specific set of words that reinforce that rule.  Then, he/she forms phrases corresponding with that rule.  And finally, the child must use that rule, along with all the other rules he/she has learned thus far, to write out sentences that you, as the teacher dictate to him/her from the teacher's guide.  And isn't that the goal of spelling?...to be able to use your spelling ability to correctly spell words within the context of a sentence? not just on a twenty-word test?

It's not just another worksheet.

All About Spelling is a multi-sensory approach to spelling.  Level 4 is no exception.  The last thing my daughter needs is another workbook to fill her days with meaningless busy work.  She needs hands-on, real world spelling practice.  She needs to be able to learn how sounds/phonograms fit together. She needs to be able to see how words look within the context of an entire sentence.  She needs to be able to manipulate letters within the framework of writing...not a vertical list. 

Children are taught how to dissect words and put them back together again.  

While a child might be able to memorize the spelling of the word achieve.  Without knowing the rules for adding suffixes, that same child will be unable to spell its deviations such as achieving or achievement.  To the spelling list memorizer, these three words are three SEPARATE words that must be memorized SEPARATELY.  But, to the All About Spelling rule follower, these three words are one and the same.  They all have the same base word.  And since he/she has learned the rules of adding vowel suffixes and consonant suffixes to words ending in silent e, he/she has no trouble spelling the word achieve or any of its deviations.  

All About Spelling is designed for multiple-age use.

As a momma with three kids working their way through spelling perfection, it's so nice to have a set-up that will work for all of them.  Each day, I bring out our tile board, call one child over to me at a time, complete the appropriate leveled lesson, and then call the next one over to tackle the next level.  With the exception of the teacher's manual, the main components of All About Spelling remain the same from level to level, saving me time and energy each day.  

All About Spelling: Spelling for the REAL World {The Unlikely Homeschool}

The Nitty Gritty of All About Spelling, Level 4


  • retails for $39.95
  • The materials pack contains both the Teacher's Manual as well as the Student Pack.
  • Only the Level 4-specific tiles are included in the pack.  All other tiles must be purchased separately.  
  • Purchasing the Spelling Interactive Kit is essential for every All About Spelling level.  But, once it has been purchased, it can be re-used for any/all levels and for multiple children. 


All About Spelling: Spelling for the REAL World {The Unlikely Homeschool}


For more thoughts on the getting started with All About Spelling, be sure to read my original review.

*I was given a copy of All About Spelling, Level 4 in exchange for a thorough review.  All opinions expressed are true and completely my own.  I am not responsible if your experiences vary. 

20 comments:

  1. Can you do a video about AAS? I have the first book but it is way too easy for my 5 and 7 year old's who are natural spellers...I'm really debating about whether to purchase the next book...Everyone I know who uses it raves about it but I just don't see what the fuss is all about (then again I'm a naturally good speller too so maybe the "rules" just come naturally to us)?

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    1. I think level 1 is really designed for those just learning their letters and sounds. For some that is first grade. For others that is preschool. The main thing is to let your child and his/her ability and mastery determine the speed at which you go through the program. My daughter went through level one in about two months. But, my son needed an entire year. No matter what speed you choose, however, I'd always suggest starting with level 1 to build a firm foundation in the basics...otherwise, future levels will be a bit confusing.

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    2. BTW...Thanks for the encouragement and reminder about doing more videos. I don't naturally think to do those, but I know it is always more helpful for some readers to SEE it rather than READ it.

      Brainstorming...

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    3. Not a video, but here's how to "fast track" for kids who already know how to spell the level 1 words (works for older or accelerated students): http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/using-all-about-spelling-with-older-students/

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  2. I have heard so much praise for AAS and AAR that when I found them both used at great prices, I snatched them up! My son breezed through AAR and AAS level 1! My BIG mistake: we skipped using the tiles and fluency drills, most drills really. We are now repeating those books and not skipping a single step! I saw starting level 2 that he didn't "get it" like I thought! Taking our time now, I already see an improvement! Any thoughts on AAR?

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    1. While we don't use the tiles every day...usually just the first day of the lesson...we ALWAYS do them each week. My visual learner, especially, needs them.

      While I don't have any personal experience using AAR, I have looked into it and have been very impressed with what I have seen. If I wasn't completely happy with the reading/phonics program we are using, AAR would be the first program I'd look into.

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  3. I was really on the fence with restarting/continuing to use AAR and AAS. I have been praying for guidance over these books/areas for a couple weeks. Your review breaks the program down into a way I was not looking at it! It has made me rethink teaching spelling. We will definitely be using them going forward. Thank you Jamie for your informative reviews:)

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    1. I'm so glad my few thoughts were helpful. The most important thing is...YOU PRAYED ABOUT IT! So often, I forget that part, and am quickly reminded why it is so crucial. Kuddos to you for doing it right the first time.

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    2. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  4. This sounds like a fabulous program; thank you for sharing! My oldest is 3.5 years and has expressed a strong desire to learn how to read. His favorite activity is reading with me, and he knows all of his sounds and many sight words. Can you please suggest a reading program geared toward younger ages? Thank you so much!

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    Replies
    1. We use ABeka Phonics which breaks reading down into phonics-based rules...similar to All About Spelling. However, if you are contemplating using AAS someday, it might be worth looking into their corresponding reading program, All About Reading. I have not used it myself, as I am very happy with ABeka, but if I had to buy curriculum all over again, I'd probably start with AAR.

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  5. Jamie,

    Love your reviews. I have been looking online for a few weeks for some reviews of the AAS past Levels 1 & 2. Most of the reviews I find are for Level 1 and they have all praised the program, but I could never tell if they continued with it past that point and how they liked it. I just recently started AAS with my two youngest children after going through Level 1 & 2 with my oldest. I never did go any further with her, but lately I have been considering going back and reviewing the two levels with my oldest and then and moving on through the program. It was my middle child that caused me to pick it up again because she was struggling with spelling. We are almost finished with level 1 in a very short period of time.

    My question for you is how do you organize your card box for multiple children to keep track of where each child is on their level. I had separate recipe card boxes for Level 1 & 2, but I recently ordered Level 3 with one of the card box holders for the program. I am just wondering if you keep all the cards for multiple kids in the same box and if you have separate sets of divider cards for each level of the program or do you use separate boxes for each child.

    Thanks again for such a helpful review of the program especially beyond just the first level.

    Gina Hempen

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    Replies
    1. Great question! We actually don't use the box as much as we should. I often just flip back in my teacher's book and find the card outlines in there for my review. But, when I DO use the box, I have all three sets of cards in one box and use sticky notes to divide them between each section. I hope that answers your question.

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  6. I almost never comment, but i did some searching and wound up here "All About Spelling, Level 4: Spelling for the REAL World".
    And I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you tend not to mind.
    Could it be just me or does it look like a few of these comments
    come across like they are coming from brain dead visitors?
    :-P And, if you are writing on other social sites, I'd like
    to keep up with anything fresh you have to post.
    Would you list of the complete urls of all your communal pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


    My blog post ... seo Google (123abcdef123456.com)

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  7. Great review of a great product! I will add that Level 1 also taught my first son to read. It is interesting to watch his spelling in his everyday writing change as he learns new words. I now alternate between AAS abd AAReading. I do a level of reading then the correaponding level of spelling. Just ideas for those who are curious about the programs.

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  8. Thank you for the post. I have been researching AAR for my son who is struggling with reading, and my daughter who is 3 years his junior. I just spent $164 on the level 1 set with the added student. I usually buy from consignment, or ebay. In this situation, buying our 4th reading program...I went with new, because there is a 1 year money back guarantee. Other than Sonlight, I don't know of any other currc. that offers a refund program. I also need the materials now, not when I can find a bargain. This post and the video on graded readers & commercial readers helped me a lot in making a decision.

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    1. I hope you have as much success with it as we have. And I'm glad to know my videos have been helpful.

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  9. Hi! Thanks for the review with pics!

    My question is: where did you get your whiteboard? It seems to be a little smaller than the one recommended and much more doable for us as a family. Thanks!

    Wanda O.

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    Replies
    1. This was purchased at either Target or Walmart. Can't quite recall. It is magnetic so it works great for AAS.

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