All About Spelling – A Love Story

In CategoryHome Schooling

This is the season of curriculum planning for all of us homeschoolers.

Yep, here we are, dragging ourselves away from the Rainbow Resource catalog to plow through the last unfinished bits of products we bought last year, while getting excited about next year and the shiny new books that will soon arrive on our doorstep.

Will those shiny new books inspire shiny new attitudes in our children? Will they leap from their beds, get themselves dressed, start Mommy’s coffee and then sit quietly and read Homer (in the original Greek)? Will my son develop a newfound passion for double-digit subtraction and impeccable handwriting?

Will I be able to take a shower before noon? Sometimes?

Hope springs eternal.

Am I right or am I right, ladies?

ANYway, in honor of school planning, I am going to talk about my love for All About Spelling.

I LOVE All About Spelling. Did I say that already?

It will be my spelling program forever and ever, amen.

When I was looking for a spelling program, I was overwhelmed by all the choices out there. I read every single review of every single spelling program I could find, scrolling through pages and pages of opinions on sites like Home School Reviews, Cathy Duffy Reviews, and The Homeschool Lounge.

What took All About Spelling to the top of my list was that it consistently received very high marks from a huge variety of moms and students. Moms who homeschooled from the beginning liked it. Moms who pulled struggling readers/spellers out of public school liked it. Moms who had kids with dyslexia or other learning disabilities liked it. Moms who had kinesthetic learners liked it.

What is so different about it? It uses a multi-sensory approach to learning. We work orally, with flash cards, with the letter tiles, or with regular old pencil and paper. It has all these different avenues built into the program, and that makes it easy to connect with the visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. Even though I’m not entirely sure what kind of learners I’ve got, I know this is going to cover all the bases.

Here’s why I like it:

• It is organized. It progresses in a very logical manner. This appeals to me, because I am logical and like to do things in a Neat and Orderly Fashion. In fact, the phrase Neat and Orderly actually comes out of my mouth on a pretty regular basis.

I’ll bet if my husband made a top ten list of Ways in Which My Wife is Annoying, hearing “guys, let’s do this in a Neat and Orderly Fashion,” all the time would be on it. IF there were such a list.

But there isn’t.

Right, Sweetie?

Speaking of organization, I like that AAS teaches all the letter sounds of all the letters. Sure, after the first few Explode the Code workbooks Big knew the basic letter sounds and the short vowels, but wondering when to introduce the 4th sound of U or the 3rd sound of Y stressed me out a little. Should I teach all the sounds all at once or would that be overwhelming? On the other hand, saying, “Hey! You mastered all the sounds! Guess what? – There’s a bunch more!” seemed like a dirty trick. Besides, my son was advancing more quickly in reading than he was in our phonics workbooks (Workbooks! Gah!), and got frustrated when the words did not follow the phonics rules we had covered so far. Luckily, All About Spelling answered those questions for me and I could stop wasting all my valuable freak-out time on vowels.

With both Big and Little, I used Explode the Code Books A, B, C and 1-4 for beginning phonics, and then transitioned pretty much exclusively to AAS. All About Learning Press has also released a program called All About Reading, which coordinates with All About Spelling to create a comprehensive learn-to-read-and-spell extraveganza. I am still researching my plans for next year, and am looking into All About Reading Level 1 for Little.

• There is no student book. Only a teacher’s manual. This is a plus to me, because we can work through each chapter at our own pace, rather than trying to do a certain number pages per week or Mommy’s schedule is ruined and Mommy will have to stay up late, compulsively reprinting new schedules instead of watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

I allow approximately a week and a half per chapter. Some chapters we work on for 3 days, some take 6 or 7 days (10 to 20 minutes per day). Plus, no student book means no badgering these children to write, no listening to these children whine about writing, and we can work at the speed of their brains, not the speed of their hands. (Of course, if you have kids that aren’t so averse to writing, you can spell on paper.) No student book also means no consumables, which means I save everything for my daughter and avoid buying more stuff.

On the other hand, it is a very teacher-intense program. There is ZERO preparation, and all the lessons are scripted and very specific about how to get the point across; but the teacher must be there, working with the student. This is not a drawback for me since my kids are very young at 7 and 5, and I have to be there for most of the other subjects, too.

The letter tiles. Again, the letter tiles allow us to learn to spell without all that pesky writing. They both like to work with the tiles. I don’t know why exactly – something about them is fun. Pretty much everything is more fun than some dry old workbook that makes your hand hurt. Fun means I don’t have to cajole them into doing spelling. Fun means they ask to do spelling. Fun means spelling isn’t even really considered schoolwork. Fun makes it a win all around, is what I’m saying.

• It is a mastery program with lots of review. As we work through the chapters, not only do our spelling words focus on the phonics rule just learned, but there are also spelling words from previous chapters. There’s lots of built-in review to ensure that the rules really sink in.

I know talking about rules sounds dry and boring; but truly, it’s not. They are delivered in a way that makes the student feel empowered. Because they are not merely learning how to spell a long list of individual words, but learning how to decode ANY word they come across. We tend to think that spelling the English language is confusing, but in reality, 85% of our words are spelled phonetically or with specific spelling rules. There are not as many “sight words” as we’ve been led to believe.

All About Spelling focuses on both phonics and rules, and does so in such an organized way that I no longer worry about sight words or gaps. Rather than having kids memorize lists of words, AAS teaches the how and why of spelling. I feel confident that by the time we have completed the entire program, my kids will be able to read and spell almost any word they are confronted with. This is the absolute best part of the program, in my opinion.

• Other Awesome Features. AAS has their own set of readers that correlate with the spelling lessons. They also have a forum where you can talk to other users and ask questions. I think it’s a great resource and have used it a couple of times. Marie Rippel herself (the author of the program) has responded to my questions and emails with amazing promptness. All About Learning Press is family-owned and I like supporting small business, so that’s a bonus to me. Also, there are no grade designations. We started from the beginning, but if you have older kids, it’s nice that AAS does not label each step as a grade, but rather as a level. It is arranged by spelling concepts, so it’s only logical to start at the beginning – older kids can do this without feeling like they are doing baby work.

I really can’t think of any cons to this program, except that some people think it’s a little on the expensive side. I don’t, because readin, ritin, and rithmatic are huge priorities to me and I don’t mind spending money on them; and also because there are no consumables which reduces the cost dramatically, depending on how many kids you want to use it with.

I’m also happy to try to answer any questions you might have about how we use the program, so feel free to email me if you need more information.

You may have noticed that I have a link in my sidebar to All About Spelling. When I placed my order last year, I raved so much about the program, the owner (that’s right – the owner took my order) asked if I was an affiliate. After much thought I decided I believe in AAS so much, I would give it a shot. The links in this post are affiliate links, and if you are inclined to place an order, feel free to click through from here. I have received no compensation for this post, I really do love it.

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8 Responses to “All About Spelling – A Love Story”

  1. Tina H. Says:

    My thoughts exactly! I’ve used AAS for about three years and love all the same things you do…and I was so impressed, I also became an affiliate. :^)
    Tina H.´s last blog post ..What I Teach My Kids About _____

  2. Tressa Says:

    I love your picture! I will confess that I only use Spelling as a filler to keep Freckle Face busy for 15 minutes. Homeschool mom fail.
    Tressa´s last blog post ..Gluten Free Biscuits (another win!)

  3. Felicia Says:

    So, I’m starting a more “formal” homeschool program (we’ve done activities, workbooks, etc. in the past, just not in a Neat and Orderly Fashion) for my 5-year old in the fall (what would be “kindergarten” year). Just starting to decide what curricula to buy/use. Would you recommend AAS for just starting out, or should I do some Explode the Code workbooks first? (We are almost all the way through “Teach your Child to read in 100 easy lessons,” which my kid loves. He asks for it every day.)

    I also have 2 younger kids (currently 3 and 1) so I love the idea of being able to re-use things.

    I am open to other advice as well, if you have any other info you want to pass on to this newbie, or any links to past blog posts, etc.

    ps. We used to live in Denver (actually, Lakewood) as well, but moved last summer.

  4. Deb Says:

    Hi Felicia!

    If you are almost through 100 Easy Lessons, then you probably could transition right to AAS.

    As for whether or not you want to add the Explode the Code books in as well, you’ll have to just see how much additional review your child needs. You can do that “See the inside!” thing on Amazon and decide which book would suit you guys. The books themselves are less expensive on the Christian Book website, though.

    If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be that when you are buying books for your beginning readers, make sure and get DECODABLE readers, not LEVELED readers. Decodable readers follow the phonics rules and are much less frustrating for a beginner.

    All About Spelling has several readers, and we also use the BOB books.

    My kids are just 5 and 7, so I am still learning as I go. I suppose one thing I have learned is that at this age, you just can’t be too relaxed. Kindy formal schoolwork is probably two 20-minute sessions, one for math and one for phonics. With Big, the formal schoolwork seemed to be as much about training him to sit still and listen as any actual schoolwork.

    Hmmm… Maybe I will write another post about all this.

    Thanks for the comment, Felicia! And if you need any other info, or to be talked off the ledge, feel free to email me.

  5. Care Says:

    Thank you so much for the review! I’ve heard about All About Spelling before, but only from one group, so I didn’t realize quite how broad a range it covered! We aren’t doing spelling this year, focusing instead on logic and French, but I’m planning NEXT year (as in, the ’13-’14 year!) to bring spelling into the mix (as well as writing, but that’s another beast altogether!). I was all set to go with Spelling Workout, and then realized I’d be making all kinds of accommodations for my little, who has a delay in his fine motor skills. AAS looks more and more like the program we’ll go with, even if it’s not until next go-around (if I order any more curricula this year, my husband *will* kill me!). We’re now on our third reading program, as my little is too easily bored with repetition to go with Ordinary Parents’ Guide, and too story-intensive for BOB Books (though the LeapFrog DVDs are always a winner here)… I’m hoping this one takes, ’cause “Mommy, I want to *read*” followed by dragging feet, and screaming fits over reading words is COMPLETELY not working. XD

    Also? I have to say, nothing is quite as exciting as the huge boxes of curricula that arrive this time of year! I just got my very first boxes, and I’m SO EXCITED to start!
    Care´s last blog post ..Moving right along

  6. The Fairly Odd Mother Says:

    I totally suck at AAS. I just seem to have the cards everywhere, no idea who is doing what and not really sure I understand what I’m supposed to do. I have made it my LIFE MISSION to figure this out for next school year. It’s either that or implant Spell Check into my children’s brain.

    BTW, I used a highlighter and a Rainbow Resource catalog ALL BY MYSELF, but it was still terribly exciting. ; )
    The Fairly Odd Mother´s last blog post ..Can you tell we are related?

  7. Kirsten is Comfortably Domestic Says:

    Your curriculum comments had me laughing out loud! I’m so excited about the new stuff, and I can barely stand to look at this year’s stuff anymore. And thanks to your post, I was reminded that it was once a real possibility to get a shower in before noon. Can’t remember the last time that actually happened.
    Kirsten is Comfortably Domestic´s last blog post ..Smoked Salmon Quiche Bites and a Bite-Sized Brunch Giveaway

  8. Kathleen Says:

    Thanks a lot, Deb, one more item for my must-have curriculum list. It really doew seem like an incredible program.