Friday, September 5, 2008

Spelling Progress! All About Spelling Review

I have to share about a favorite curriculum!

We've tried several spelling programs here (including making up my own, which I found to be a very involved task!). But never found one we really loved or that "worked" for us. Then last Spring I stumbled across All About Spelling; it was everything I had wanted to create on my own and more.

My son (11) says that it's the most effective curriculum we've used. "It starts out basic and really makes you think about how words are spelled. Then it helps you to know how to spell tricky words. I like writing the words on the white board. It's fun because I like to see what I know and I like the trivia questions! (review cards). I like the time that I get to spend with Mom."

(No, I didn't pay him to say that last part, isn't he sweet?!) I agree that it's effective; every week I am noticing more words that my kids are spelling correctly in their writing that they didn't know how to spell before.

So, here is my All About Spelling review:

The things I like:

The letter tiles--these are similar to what we used in Reading Reflex, only these are laminated and color-coordinated. We use the magnets too and put them on a magnetic white board--this makes the program so user-friendly!

Not sure if you can read what Zach spelled on the board: I'm done with my book! We were both so proud!

The book is open and go, the lessons are all laid out. We work for about 15 minutes & then pick up there again the next day. I spent one day getting ready to teach it by punching out the perforated cards & just glancing at the book. Otherwise there is really no prep time.

Each new step begins with reviewing rules and words that still need reinforcing, then learning some new concepts and building words with the tiles. Later the kids can write words on a white board or on paper (or they can use more tactile methods). I really like that there are phrases and dictation sentences to write too--so the kids don't just memorize a list and then forget it, they have to think how to write words in a sentence. I think this is one reason that what my kids are learning is "sticking."

We can go as quickly or as slowly as we need to through each lesson, so my kids learn at their own pace. Some lessons (called "steps") have taken us 2 days, some have taken a week or so.

Here's Anna after finishing another lesson, with her progress chart. Obviously she loves "sticker day," LOL!

Review is built in so it won't be forgotten, and my kids retain what they are learning. It's completely customizeable--the rules and words are on cards that you keep in a card file, and when your kids have them mastered, you move the cards out of the review section.

Zach and his progress chart, done with Level 2!

It's based on the Orton Gillingham phonics research, and it only teaches rules that really hold true (no rules like "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking," which is only true about 40% of the time.) AAS also used the same research that another favorite book of mine--The ABC's and All Their Tricks--used.

It uses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic processes. Works for kids with dyslexia, auditory processing struggles (which we have dealt with) and other issues too.

AAS has a money back guarantee (that tipped the scales for me to try it! And they take paypal too, another plus).

There is a great Resource Center on the site with articles and videos for further help.

There is a jail for words that don't follow the rules!

We added magnets to the "jail" so we could put that on our board too! BTW, the board is 2' X 3' if you're wondering--the angle of this picture may make it look bigger.

AAS is easy to use and to understand. I only wish I had found it several years ago! I really can't think of much I'd change about it, and the company offers lifetime support. It might not be the program for everyone, but if you're looking for a better spelling program, check it out. I decided to become an affiliate because it's helped us so much. If I can answer any questions I'd be glad to.

UPDATE: After answering questions online for awhile, the author asked me to join her Customer Service team in October of 2008. So if you email the company, you'll very likely hear from me!

God bless, Merry :-)

P.S. Click to see my review update here.


  1. How could I use AAS with a 9th grader without making him feel "stupid" or like a looks like Kindergarten??

  2. High schoolers & even adults have gone through the program. A few things--When you present the idea to your son, you’ll want to communicate that:

    1, you want spelling and writing to be easier for him.

    2, you know that he knows how to spell the easy words at the beginning, so that’s not going to be the focus. The focus is seeing if there are any concepts he doesn’t know, that will help make spelling longer words easier. When you fill in those gaps, then you’ll be able to get to those harder words. You want the longer words to be as easy for him as the shorter ones, would he like that too?

    It helps some kids understand if you compare to something like a video game or swimming lessons. Even though level 1 of a game or of lessons is easy to do, that doesn’t mean you should jump ahead to level 10. But it does mean that you can go quickly through the earlier levels, learning what you need to know so that when you DO get to the higher levels, you aren’t overwhelmed by having to learn too much at once.

    You don't have to use the tiles at his age, you can underline phonograms that you write on paper, or use colored marker on the white board or paper. Or use the tiles only for demonstrations and don't have him use them. The main thing is to show in some visual way that letters work together as a team (phonogram) to produce one sound.

    When starting with an older student, use the "Which Level" article to see if he needs to start with 1 or 2:

    Here's a post on my "typical day" with my high schooler:

    HTH some as you decide whether this will help your son, let me know if you have other questions.

  3. Thank you for your review! I've been back and forth about getting this for my 6 year old. I think she will love it and it's worth a try =)

  4. Where did you get the Jail? Does it come with AAS?

  5. Hi Jamie, yes it comes with Level 2. You don't have to magnetize it, but my kids thought that was fun! Enjoy! Merry :-)

  6. Thanks, Merry! I got the link to this through a Sonlight forum. My son is struggling with spelling words, and I was wondering about whether I should get this or not. Do you think it would be too difficult for a 6 1/2 year old?

  7. Not at all, it's great for beginners too, you just take it at your child's pace. Level 1 starts with the multiple sounds of the phonograms and moves into 3-letter, short-vowel words. Have you seen the online samples? That might help you get a feel for it. This link shows the samples for all the levels:

    Young kids love the tiles too. HTH! Merry :-)

  8. Hi Merry,
    I want to try this AAS, but the cost is something which I am concerned. Can you please suggest me as where can I get them cheaper??
    My kids are aged 6 and 8...

  9. You could try to find it used, but try to make sure the components are all there if you go that route. Otherwise there isn't a cheaper place to get it new. Cost deterred me for awhile, but then I realized, I spend more on math each year and we use spelling skills just as much. It's been worth it for us. Hope you can find a way to make it work!

  10. Thanks Merry,
    can you suggest me what I can expect in AAS level1?

  11. Sure! Level 1 teaches concepts like segmenting, the multiple sounds of the first 32 phonograms (o has 4 sounds, ch has 3, s has 2, etc.), and basic spelling rules like when to use C or K for the /k/ sound, when to use K or CK at the end of a word, when to double F, L, and S at the end of one syllable words, and so on.

    The words are easy to start, but the concepts taught also apply to longer and harder words (like concentrate). AAS is a building-block kind of program, so each level will build on the rules and concepts from the previous levels.

    Have you seen the online samples? That might be helpful & would give you an idea too:

    HTH some! Merry :-)

  12. Hi Merry,

    Thanks for this post. We're about to do Sonlight Core D+E where Sequential Spelling is a required curriculum. Since we have Sequential Spelling, do you still recommend AAS to supplement?

  13. Hi Karen,

    I would use either/or, rather than both. Sequential Spelling only comes with if you buy the "full grade package." If you purchase just a core, you are free to mix and match things like math and spelling. If you already have it, you can always try it and see how it goes. We tried the first 40 lessons or so, but my oldest didn't pick up on the patterns. Instead, he found it confusing and just started guessing, so then I tried to tell him some simple rules (like doubling a consonant before adding "ing" to words like "running.") Then it just upset him more that the program "withheld" that information and he felt set up to fail. Discovery-oriented programs didn't work well for him! But, many kids are fine with it--so it just depends on your student. Time-wise, they both are about the same and both involve mom-time. For AAS, you spend 15-20 minutes and stop wherever you are. HTH some!

  14. Thanks, Merry!!! I appreciate your feedback :)

  15. Thanks for your thorough reviews and feedback, Merry! I just purchased Level 1 through your link and really excited about it! :)