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Spelling Lists that Make Sense (and a few that don’t)

There are lots of ways to teach spelling, but unfortunately, not all of them work well.

Many spelling programs are based on spelling lists. In fact, most of us learned to spell—or at least we attempted to learn to spell—with some type of spelling list method.

But if you take a close look at them, most spelling lists really aren’t designed to help a child learn to spell.

The fact is, most spelling lists don’t make sense to the student.

You’re probably familiar with the “list-on-Monday, test-on-Friday” approach.

This is the most common approach to teaching spelling.

With this method, children are given a list of words at the beginning of the week, asked to write them three to five times, and then are tested on the words at the end of the week. Teacher involvement is minimal.

A popular variation of this is “Look, Cover, Write, and Check.” The student looks at the word, covers it, and sees if he can write it from memory. Then he compares what he wrote to the original word.

There are three common themes for these spelling lists.

List Type #1: Words taken from a book the student is reading.

The words on these lists are usually unrelated both in terms of content and phonetic structure. For example, this 3rd-grade spelling list from Trumpet of the Swan includes words such as catastrophe, reveille, and plumage.

3rd grade-trumpet of the swan-beige-375

List Type #2: Words showing all the different ways that a single sound can be spelled.

These lists can contain words with as many as six or seven different ways to spell the same sound. This list features the long I sound and includes words such as item, timed, pie, cry, light, and kindness.

Spelling Lists that Make Sense (and a few that don't) - All About Spelling

List Type #3: Words taken from the Dolch or Fry lists (in frequency order).

The words on these lists have no context and are completely unrelated to each other. A list may contain the words found, wash, slow, hot, because, far, live, and draw, which are only related to each other because they are in frequency order on the Dolch list.

Many well-meaning educators feel that these spelling lists make sense.

That’s because, as adults who can already spell, we can see the organization behind the lists. The words are grouped by literary work, or by common sound, or by frequency order, and it feels like a nice, neat package that we can hand off to children to learn from.

But in reality, this is an example of the “curse of knowledge.” We can see the big picture—the common theme behind the word lists—so the lists make sense to us. But because children lack an understanding of the underlying concepts, they have a hard time learning from lists like these.

Nothing about these lists is developmentally appropriate for children.

For many children, the “list-on-Monday, test-on-Friday” method simply doesn’t work.

Besides the problem of the underlying organization of the lists, with this method the phonograms and spelling rules generally aren’t explicitly or systematically taught, leaving students to figure out the code on their own. Rote memorization of the words on the list is difficult (and boring). And the words are easily forgotten because there is nothing for the learner’s mind to “attach” the words to.

Even children who easily memorize spelling lists may have problems. When children learn to spell this way, they can become confused as soon as they encounter new or more difficult words. They resort to guessing at the correct spelling of unfamiliar words and often spell them wrong a week or two after the test. For many children, this leads to a lifetime of poor spelling.

So what does work?

We’ve looked at three types of spelling lists that don’t make sense to learners, but there is a fourth type of list that does make sense.

List Type #4: Word lists that are centered on a single, well-organized spelling concept.

This is the type of list we use in the All About Spelling program.

But we don’t just hand the learner a list on Monday and expect him to have it memorized for a test on Friday. In fact, we don’t even have tests! Instead, we teach students why words are spelled the way they are, and how all the words on the list are related to each other.

Spelling Lists that Make Sense (and a few that don't) - All About Spelling

For example, when we teach the IGH phonogram (which says /ī/ as in high), we teach multiple words that contain IGH, such as:

IGH words

You can easily see how the words on the list reinforce the phonogram the child has learned and give him an opportunity to practice it.

Unlike the Long I list shown in list type #2, this list has reason and logic behind it and will therefore be easy for a child to remember and use for encoding new words later on.

But we don’t stop there.

After the student learns the words that contain the IGH phonogram, we review that newly learned concept in many ways. We review using Word Cards, being sure to mix up the new words with previously learned words. We dictate phrases and sentences using the new words, and we encourage writing original sentences. In all, we incorporate four major spelling strategies (phonetic, rule-based, visual, and morphemic), as well as five minor strategies. (Check out this article on effective spelling strategies if you are interested in learning more.)

We do whatever it takes to make learning stick, which is the exact opposite of the “list-on-Monday, test-on-Friday” approach.

When you use spelling lists that make sense, it’s a win-win. Your child gets the type of teaching he deserves, and you get the satisfaction of watching him flourish.

Has your child ever been given a spelling list that didn’t make sense? Please share in the comments below.

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sara

says:

I am having a terrible time teaching my child, in 3rd grade nonetheless which is why I’m so terrified, how to spell long vowel sounds. Is it GOAT or GOTE? Any tips? It seems like the simplest thing holds her up.

Sara,
Over time, All About Spelling teaches 4 main effective spelling strategies: phonetic, rules-based, visual, and morphemic. In this case, a visual approach really is needed.

AAS focuses on one way to spell a sound at a time, providing lots of time to master that way before introducing the next. In your example, long /o/ spelled O-consonant-E is introduced in AAS 2 but long /o/ spelled OA isn’t introduced until AAS 3. As both are taught and then reviewed, students periodically read Word Banks to help build their visual memory for pattern. One way to get more mileage out of the word banks is to have your daughter first note, “How is the long /o/ sound spelled in each of these words?” O_E. “That’s right.”

The multiple ways to spell one sound isn’t really a simple thing. It’s a real problem for many trying to lean to spell. English has 250 ways to spell 45 sounds!

Louise

says:

Sounds refreshing!

Mary husman

says:

Before we changed to homeschooling, we had a big move from Ohio to the mountains of North Carolina. My son’s spelling list in the first days of 1st grade convinced him school was broken. The list: hen, pen, ten, etc. He came home with his dictated test of wrong answers: hin, pin, tin, etc. He had learned to read a bit in Ohio but the diphthong and different vowel pronunciations of a southern drawl broke all of the phonic sound rules he had learned. To him, spelling made no sense (since). It only took me a few seconds with the teacher to understand what had happened.

Ah, yes, Mary, the Pen/Pin Merger. This is a tricky problem for many Americans in certain parts of the country. It’s even trickier because many adults forget their own troubles to know when to use short i or short e, and because of their “curse of knowledge” they think the problem lies with the young learner. Good for you for taking the time to find the problem wasn’t on your son’s shoulders!

Stephanie

says:

Love the program! This method works as proven by my 11 yo who never did well with any spelling program until I found yours! Spelling has become understandable through the reinforcement of single rules at a time and reinforcing previous learned rules. Thanks!

Leanne

says:

This just simply makes sense…I love this approach to learning!

Holly

says:

Absolutely love both AAR and AAS! My son is 5-1/2 and flew through AAS level 1. We are now on level two. I have a question about teaching him to spell words with muted vowel sounds (eg, broken, human, etc). The text says to pronounce for spelling. I am unclear as to whether I should pronounce for spelling when I dictate the word to him or whether I should dictate the word how it is regularly spoken and ask him to pronounce for spelling (something I’m not sure he is able to do, since he obviously is just learning how to spell the word correctly). Thanks in advance for your help!

Holly,
Good question.

Start by saying the word as you normally say it, then pronouncing it for spelling. Then let your son know that he will need to start pronouncing the word for spelling himself. Your goal is to work toward you saying the word normally, and then he pronounces it for spelling and spells it. The word isn’t considered mastered until he can do that. Some students pick up on this quickly and easily, and are pronouncing the words for spelling on the very first day you work on the concepts. Many will take longer, needing a lot of practice until they master this.

For further information, here is a blog post on Making Sense of Schwas and how to deal with them.

Holly

says:

Thank you, Robin! Both your response and the blog post were very helpful!

Sharon

says:

Why do you not recommend using a Sight Word based approach in addition to your All About Spelling program? My child is trying to use these most common words (Dolce or Fry list) in her writing but is misspelling them. And she knows she is misspelling them, so she gets frustrated and instead of focusing on content and developing ideas, she gets tripped up on these words. Not all English words follow a rule as in All About Spelling. I am just trying to bridge your program with what I was taught on how to teach spelling in 1st and 2nd grade; I know that my daughter needs to not only be able to spell in isolation but in her writing as well for maximum retention. I would love your insights and help in this matter. I taught 8th grade LA for six years, not elementary, so any recommendations would be helpful and much appreciated. :)

Sharon,
You brought up some excellent questions!

First, 90% of the Dolch List words are phonetic and follow the rules and patterns that All About Spelling focuses on. This article analyzes the Dolch List. Instead of asking students to memorize hundreds of words in isolation, we can teach the rules and patterns of English so that they can tackle these words. However, you are correct, not all words in English follow the rules. Starting in Level 2 of All About Spelling, students are periodically taught rule breakers, including the 21 words from the Dolch List that aren’t phonetic. The way we approach rule breakers is discussed as Problem #4 of this blog post on How to Handle Spelling Troublemakers.

All About Spelling teaches words from the Dolch, Fry, and Ayres lists, with the exception of a few words that aren’t in common usage anymore. Plus, AAS teaches many words beyond these lists.

Developing Automaticity in spelling is a common concern. We address it by having the student write phrases from dictation, then sentences, then Writing Station assignments where students are given 5 or 6 words and have to write their own unique sentences using them. As the the student moves up through the levels, the dictation and Writing Station assignments with each Step become progressively harder.

I hope this helps clears things up for you, but please let me know if you have further questions or concerns.

Sharon

says:

This is so good! Thank you so much!!! I guess my frustration lies in my impatience and desire for her to spell common, easier words first before moving on to others-yet I do see the logic behind teaching the within-word pattern words or grouping the words in order. Humor me, though: my daughter can spell the words from level 1 and we just moved onto level 2, but frustrate me is that she is not spelling easy and frequently used words like “have” or “some” because we have not hit that lesson yet. However, she can spell other words like compound words or any other word taught in level 1. It just seems perplexing to me to wait to spell those words as opposed to “blackjack” or “floss.” Does that make sense? :)

Sharon,
I can see you are really thinking about this and asking excellent questions.

Recall that All About Spelling was designed with struggling learners in mind; those students that need more explicit, more incremental instruction. Many (most?) spelling programs teach high frequency words early on, but so many of these high frequency words are rule breakers or have advanced patterns or sounds. Many children are okay with that, and just learn to spell those words then later learn to spell more simple but less common words (blackjack and floss are less common but they are very simple to spell).

The problem for other students, however, is that they take the patterns they learned in those high frequency words and try to apply them to other words. Some of the patterns they learn may not even be true patterns. I used a more traditional spelling curriculum with my older daughter and she experienced exactly this problem. She treated silent e’s as if they were random decorations. She used c, k, and ck interchangeably. She spelled the short /u/ sound with an a half the time, because of words like was and what. She was in the forth grade and still misspelling simple words, such as trying to spell bake as backe.

My daughter was not unique in this. Approximately a third of children struggle to learn to spell from traditional high frequency word focused lists.

I disagree with you that words like have and some are easy. Yes they are high frequency, but they use much less common patterns. Have ends in a silent e, but it is the third job of silent e. It keeps the word from ending in a v, but it doesn’t make the a say it’s long sound. The idea that silent e has 7 distinct jobs surprises many adults, and can be confusing to students if you expect them to be responsible for the third job before the first job of silent e is even introduced, let alone mastered.

Some is taught as a rule breaker, a word where the job of the silent e isn’t readily apparent. Also, some uses the 4th sound of o. These are advanced sounds and patterns that are not very commonly used, even though the word is common.

I’m not sure if this will be a consolation to you, but many students find they have enough knowledge of words after AAS 2, or even during it, that they become much more comfortable and confident in their writing. A few students, usually those that struggle a lot more, do better after AAS 3, as by the end of the AAS 3 students have learned to spell over 1000 words and AAS 3 introduces the Writing Station activity that has students writing their own, unique sentences using words they are given.

We freely admit that All About Spelling may not be the best option for every student and family. If your daughter doesn’t struggle with spelling, maybe she would do fine with a program that taught the high frequency words first. All About Spelling does get there; we just take a bit longer to ensure the foundation for spelling all words is well laid first.

Sharon

says:

Hi there!

Your reply is excellent. I must admit I did not know all of the jobs of the silent “e.” I merely learned lists while in school and in my undergrad and postgrad work, I was introduced to Words Their Way and teach high frequency words. Now I see the confusion in this method. And I feel more confident to continue on with AAS. Thank you so much for being thorough in your replies to me. I have been pleasantly impressed with the level of feedback and availability of both the operators on the phone as well as your reply. It makes sense to me now why you do what you do. When I wrote “easy” I meant easy for me or “easy” because they are smaller words than “blackjack” or “floss.” I wish I was taught like this with all the rules. I love it!! And the repetition and slowly building from words to word phrases and then sentences from dictation is helpful. I can see a difference in her writing of late, particularly her confidence in transferring what she has learned to her writing–not so much in her journal but regular, spontaneous writing such as a card or silly note explaining to me why her brother upset her while playing grocery store!!!! Lol. Thank you again. 💜

Sharon,
I’m glad our conversation has been helpful to you. I know I’ve enjoyed it. Also, you asked many thoughtful questions and I think this public discussion may be helpful to others with similar concerns.

And I got a nice smile at your daughter writing you a note explaining why she was upset at her brother. I love when my kids write me notes like that.

Dorothy

says:

Robin’s answer is great, but I wanted to add just one comment to it. If your daughter likes to write and she comes up with sentences that include words with spellings you haven’t covered yet, you should just tell her the correct spelling so that 1) she doesn’t get frustrated and 2) she doesn’t practice misspelling these words. If you know the pattern or rule, share that with her too. She may not memorize it yet, or have a full list of words to practice the pattern, but there’s no harm telling her why that common word is spelled the way it is or that it is a rule-breaker.

One of the things I love about AAS is that it does not teach random sight words. All the common words that follow the rules will be learned with the rules they follow, and those that break the rules can be taught with the rules they break. This makes much more sense than teaching sight words completely unrelated to pattern of the rest of the words on a list as many other phonics approaches do.

Sharon

says:

Dorthy,

Great idea! Thank you for the reply. I will most certainly try that in her writing. The only problem is I don’t know the rules such how to teach “wait” not “wate” (she’s using what she already knows about silent “e”.,at least the first rule) or she spells “says” like “ses.” I can tell that she is thinking and just using but confusing because dear ol’ mom has not taught that lesson in AAS 2 as of yet. :) If I don’t know the rule as of yet myself, how do I teach her? I guess just give grave to her and myself and we will eventually get there. :)
Thanks again!

Blessings,
Sharon

Debbie

says:

I like this approach! My 4th grader hates spelling and having to write the words over and over so this might be just what we need.

Donna

says:

I am a believer in All About Spelling after using it in my home. I have discussed it with a local private school because it is far superior to the weekly list, just go home and learn it, approach. I don’t expect any changes though because educators can be very set in their ways and tend to miss the point of education.

If they ever want more information Donna, refer them to support@allaboutlearningpress.com. Lots of public and private schools are using our programs. Thank you for sharing All About Spelling with others; word of mouth is the highest praise!

Hanna Erickson

says:

My 2nd grader struggles with spelling I have been looking for something to help with out having weekly spelling tests. I am so glad I stumbled upon this post.

Renae B.

says:

After reading this post, I clicked to read “the curse of knowledge” post. Both were helpful. The curse of knowledge concept is often in my head as a reminder when teaching my preschooler.

Renae,
You are welcome. Keep the “curse of knowledge” in my mind has helped my teaching in many ways.

rebekah

says:

I am interested in both your AAS & AAR programs for my 4th grader. She reads at grade level, but I want to make sure she has a solid comprehension. Her spelling is getting better, but there is no rhyme or reason to our current spelling curriculum. What levels should I start her with in AAS & AAR? I don’t want to start her in too simple of curriculum, but if level 1 really is appropriate for AAS, then I will try it. What about the level for AAR?

Rebekah,
For All About Reading, you can use the placement tests to decide which level would be best. Also, we recommend having your child read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want her to be reading fluently with good comprehension before going to a higher level.

Level 1 sample story
Level 2 sample story
Level 3 sample story
Level 4 sample story

Evaluate (without correcting your daughter) for the following…

Her ability to decode the words in the story.
Her ability to comprehend the story.
Could she fluently read the story with expression?
Did she understand the words from a vocabulary standpoint?

For All About Spelling, we do recommend that most students start with level 1 to build a strong foundation in spelling.

All About Spelling is a building block program with each level building upon the previous one. The rules and concepts learned in Level 1 are applied in Level 2, and then those are applied in Level 3, and so on. Placement for spelling is based on the student’s knowledge of spelling rules and concepts rather than grade level, reading level, or the words a student has memorized.

For example, we find that many students simply memorize easy words like “cat” and “kid” but have no idea why one uses a C and the other uses a K, or that the same rules that apply to these words also apply to higher level words such as “concentrate.” Other students switch letters or leave out letters entirely. This usually occurs because they don’t know how to hear each sound in the word. Level 1 has specific techniques to solve these problems.

The article Should We Start in Level 1 or Level 2? has more information on the concepts taught in level 1 and will help you decide the appropriate starting level.

Level 2 of AAS focuses on learning the syllable types, when they are used and how they affect spelling. This information is foundational for higher levels of spelling. Three syllable rules are introduced in Level 2, and then more in Level 3 and up. For this reason, we generally recommend starting higher than level 2.

Marie encourages parents and teachers to “fast track” if the student knows how to spell most of the words but does not understand the underlying basic spelling concepts. In this case, very quickly skim the parts that she already knows and slow down on the parts that she needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure she understands the concept being taught, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

I hope this helps, but if you have further placement questions or concerns please let us know.

Jennifer

says:

I have been looking for a spelling program for the past two weeks and I came across your blog posts which have been very helpful. I am interested in seeing how my son does with AAS. He is a very wiggly little boy and hands on are always better for him than sitting and writing out of a workbook the whole time. We have never used AAR so I wonder how he will do. Cathy Duffy’s review says that AAS is both a spelling and reading program. I am curious to find out if this is really the case.

Jennifer,
The good news is that our spelling and reading programs are perfect for wiggly learners! Hands on learning is scheduled right into every lesson.

All About Spelling isn’t a reading curriculum. Still, many students experience improvement in their reading as they use AAS because it’s work with syllable division rules and other things. However, All About Spelling doesn’t work on decoding skills, fluency practice, reading stamina, comprehension, or other skills needed to be strong readers.

We don’t recommend starting AAS until the student is already reading. We recommend starting AAS 1 after completing All About Reading Level 1, or the equivalent reading level. You can use the placement tests to confirm if your child is reading well enough to be ready to start spelling.

I hope this helps, but if you have further questions or concerns please let us know.

Melissa

says:

We are planning to start AAS Level 1 after the holidays. My 3rd grader really struggles with spelling so we are very hopeful this program will work. AAR has helped us already! Thanks for developing such a wonderful program.

Kelly

says:

We are using AAS Level 1 with our second-grader this year, and I really enjoy how it is organized. We’ve gotten a little behind in the past month or so…..we need to jump back in after the holiday craziness!

Kelly,
The holiday craziness gets to us all and messes a lot of routines up. I’ll be with you next week, jumping back into things.

Amanda

says:

Wow, this is really true for my oldest daughter! When she was at international school, she was given these random lists based on that week’s theme. I remember she always got poor scores on her Friday spelling test. She would come home in tears. One day, she even said “Mommy,” tears, tears and more tears, “I don’t think I will ever be a spelling teacher!” Then, we had a good laugh. The next year, I homeschooled her and found she has no problem spelling when I focus on teaching the phonograms and why words are spelled the way they are.

Amanda,
Thank you for sharing the very different experiences your daughter had with between theme-based spelling lists and phonogram-based spelling lists. Very interesting.

Jessica

says:

Studying phonograms is how we started learning phonics and spelling. I would like to continue, but our basic phonics curriculum is too easy now. Would love to check out your spelling lists in more detail.

Jessica,
We teach 72 basic phonograms. These basic phonograms allows us to spell 97% of English words. We also teach some advanced phonograms such as rh, eu, gu, and others. All About Spelling Level 7 (the final level), students are spelling high school level words. We use all of the modern Ayers list words which ranks up to 12th grade, and other various lists that rank words between 9th and 12th grade.

Let me know if you have further questions!

Cindy

says:

I’ve been searching for a program to help my struggling learner get on track without tears and frustration. Every program we’ve tried thus far has been very stressful for him. I love the sounds of the All About Spelling program and pray that we will have better results with it.

Leanne H

says:

This is how my daughter’s 3rd grade public school spelling tests are designed, which is good. However, it’s becoming obvious that she needs the rules and the “why” reinforced at a slower pace.

Alisha

says:

This makes so much sense, especially for a dyslexic child like my son!

Yes, my girls were given some very strange spelling lists when we were still involved in Wisconsin Virtual Academy online. Frustration was a daily factor while with WIVA.

Maya

says:

Totally agree. The lists #1 to #3 do not make any sense, when intended to teach spelling. I especially love the lists in AAS, because they not only present words from the new concept that is being taught, but review words from previous lessons seemlessly, in the phrases and sentences part. My child loved doing “dictation with AAS”. Thank you!

Kim

says:

My son struggles with lists, we will be starting All About Spelling when we start school again after the first of the year.

Betsy

says:

We have only done a few spelling lists. It seemed crazy that spelling is SO hard when she reads many years beyond her chronological age, seems there is more to it than I thought!

Merry at AALP

says:

Spelling is a lot harder than reading, so even many excellent readers will struggle with spelling. This is one reason why we teach the subjects separately. For more information, check out this article on Why We Teach Reading and Spelling Separately.

Heather

says:

What a great program. I also love this site and the emails we get, helping me be a better teacher for my child!

Sarah

says:

I like teaching my children patterns that take the guess work out of spelling. I find it hard for them to spell correctly even though they read fluently, and AAS takes the guesswork out as soon as they learn a pattern.

Merry at AALP

says:

I’m so glad AAS is helping. Most kids do find spelling to be harder to learn than reading–that’s one reason why we teach these skills separately.

Rachel

says:

this is great info! Thanks! We love all about reading and spelling!!!

Racheal

says:

I’ve been looking at this for some time now. I can’t wait to try it out.

Sybil

says:

Been looking at this for a while, I look forward to using it with my son.

Cyndy

says:

Thanks for the info about spelling lists! We love AAR and AAS!

Danielle

says:

I’ve heard nothing but good things about all about spelling and all about reading.
I can’t wait to try this with my 6 year old!

Amy

says:

I love this spelling g program! It has made it so easy to teach my 6 & 7 year old and has helped them so much with learning to spell!

Sara S.

says:

This is what I love about AAR and AAS. Love that we get to know the how and why instead of just rote memorization. I know that doesn’t work for most because I grew up with it and it was just frustrating and stressful.

Amy Shannon

says:

List type 2 is what brought us to AAS. My son was struggling and the spelling book we had just didn’t make sense to me. When I found AAS, the methods made complete sense to me, and my son likes that it gets done quickly without meaningless repetitive copying of spelling words.

Amy,
Thank you for sharing your son’s experiences with lists that didn’t make sense and with AAS.

Lacy

says:

These lists are a great idea! It does make a lot more sense to teach spelling this way!

Susan Deacon

says:

Thank you for this important information!

Amy Maze

says:

This is why I love AAS!

kerri

says:

I, as teacher, am constantly amazed at just how much sense All About Spelling makes! I am thrilled to have found this program.

sherri

says:

Thanks for all your helpful information.

charlene clough

says:

My two children have had a terrible time learning to spell. They have improved some by using visualization
methods and memory tricks, but I think they need more help so that it is easier.
I am sooo looking forward to trying AAS!!

J Nelson

says:

Totally agree that your approach to spelling makes more sense for long-term application and understanding.

Anne

says:

Our daughter is in a 6th grade classroom outside the home this year. The spelling book they use at this private school is merely a weekly list with words that have the same sound but are spelled differently, just like you said. There are no rules taught. It relies only on memorization. She can practice them enough to get a good grade on the test but cannot retain them for very long. Somehow she is getting a A in the class, but this does not reflect her spelling ability at all. It’s very frustrating to me. When we homeschooled her, we used AAS, and she still struggled but was at least hearing the rules. It’s an excellent program. The silly book she has at her school even has ugly pictures in it….an alien facon an early page. It’s just so unappealing.

Anne, I’m sorry your daughter is having to experience such a confusing approach to spelling and it isn’t even an attractive book either. How sad.

Michelle J

says:

There is no rule that says you cannot continue to use AAS at home, to supplement what is taught at school. It would give your daughter the solid foundation she needs. And the bonus: no need to worry about what her grade will be on her report card. Instead, offering a reward (such as going out for an ice cream treat, choosing a new book from the bookstore, etc.) for finishing the level – or a certain specified number of steps within the level – would be a bond-forming incentive.

Marie Rippel

says:

Thanks for chiming in, Michelle! This is excellent advice!

Amy Marshall

says:

We love all about spelling and reading! Thank you so much for writing this- it has truly been a blessing! I only wish I had this when my 15 yr old was learning to read!

Sarah

says:

I had to teach those lists as a third grade teacher and I so glad to do things differently as I homeschool my daughters. Planning to use your programs and can’t wait!

Lynn

says:

Yep. That is how I was taught. Probably why spelling was my worst subject. I am thankful I found a better way for my kids.

Ann

says:

How do you know where to start? I am using another program called Abeka. We are in second grade and doing fine in spelling but not so much in reading. She is very slow reading on the page and yet can fly through flashcards like nobody’s business. We are aware of SPD and in therapy for helping with that for a couple of years now. There is possible ADHD down the road, we are trying to intervene for that now. I guess I am wondering if switching programs is hard on the child or not.
Thanks for any help.

Ann,
We have placement tests you can use for All About Reading to decide which level would be best. Also, we recommend having your child read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want her to be reading fluently with good comprehension before going to a higher level.

Level 1 sample story
Level 2 sample story
Level 3 sample story
Level 4 sample story

Evaluate (without correcting your student) for the following…

Her ability to decode the words in the story.
Her ability to comprehend the story.
Could she fluently read the story with expression?
Did she understand the words from a vocabulary standpoint?

As for whether switching programs is hard on a child, well if the child is struggling with the subject switching programs can be the best thing possible. Switching programs multiple times for the same subject in a short period of time can be hard or harmful for a student, but switching once in order to find a program that will help them be successful with a subject is very helpful.

What you described, that your daughter can go through flashcards very quickly but struggles with reading on the page, indicates that she is struggling to gain fluency in reading. Marie noticed when she was first developing All About Reading that many programs do not contain enough fluency practice for many students. All About Reading has either a story or fluency pages to be read with every Lessons, so that there is constant fluency practice throughout.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Beth

says:

Dear Ann,

I have been homeschooling my children since my oldest daughter was in 2nd grade. She is now 16. I have always used Abeka with both my children. I never had a problem with it for my oldest child. My youngest daughter is 10 and has been struggling with Dislexia. Reading was a struggle every day. I am talking blood, sweat, and tears struggle. I Recently purchased and started using All About Spelling and All About Reading. My daughter LOVES it! I LOVE it! There are no more tears. We started at Level 1 with their spelling and reading program. After just 3 weeks my daughter is reading and spelling better than ever. My daughter’s confidience level has soared. It is well worth the money. The people that I spoke with on the phone were caring and helpful. I would recommend these programs to anyone and I have been. Good luck with your decision.

Erin Phair

says:

This makes much more sense and I will definitely be changing my approach to storming with my children!

Alyssa Gibbs

says:

I homeschool my two children, 8 and 6. We LOVE All About Reading and All About Spelling!

Dina

says:

Seems like a great program! My grandson is still pretty young but I will definitely check this out when we begin!

christy

says:

Tried AAS but didnt continue with it but my 9yo son loved it.

Laura

says:

Christy, I saw your post and was a little dumbfounded. If your 9 yr. old loved it, why wouldn’t you continue? It is a gift you can give him for the rest of his life. My 82 year old mom (former school teacher) actually apologized to me as an adult for not helping me enough with my spelling and reading issues. She didn’t know how to help, but you can make a difference in you son’s life. I have struggled my whole life and I am doing everything I can so my kids don’t have to. I encourage you to not give up! I know you will be so happy you didn’t.
Sincerely,
Laura

Carrie

says:

This is a great post! I completely agree with your thoughts on lists. Although I thought my 4th and 6th graders were great spellers, I started to see that the rules were missing from their list based curriculum. We have just started aas this year and are quickly filling in the gaps. My 4 year old who is not doing official school enjoys spelling as well and easily participates! I can’t wait to start all about reading with him next year! Thanks for such a wonderful program to learn AND teach from!

Carrie,
Thank you for sharing how AAS is working with your older students that were already good spellers.

Camille

says:

My 10-year-son has dyslexia. Spelling has been a progressively worsening struggle ever since kindergarten. We started homeschooling a couple months using the All About Spelling and All About Reading programs. The progress he had made is amazing. He is spelling words on his own that surprise me every day. Thank you!

Camille,
This is GREAT! We love to be able to have a part in success stories like this! Thank you for sharing.

Melissa

says:

I have worked about half way through AAS Level 1 with my 11 year old son. I feel so good about the systematic approach to teaching new concepts and the built-in review process. Thank you for your helpful suggestions from staff at All About Learning.

Natalia

says:

Great Thanks to Marie for teaching us and our babbies!

Melissa

says:

Love this program! Both my kids are excelling in spelling now!

Tori

says:

I had just thought about this the other day while looking at a spelling list! I had never thought about how confusing it must be!

Carol-Anne

says:

my 10yr old daughter has Asperger’s syndrome and central auditory processing disorder and although she is a good reader, she failed spelling. Since we started homeschooling 3 months ago, using AAS, she is 1/2 way through level 1 and loving it. She is now asking how to spell words and I remind her to think about “pulling down the tiles”, and this works :)
I would highly recommend AAS as it encourages and empowers the child ( and parent) to learn more.

Carol-Anne,
It’s wonderful to hear how AAS has helped your daughter already, and she’s only 1/2 of the way through Level 1! Keep up the great work!

Marsena

says:

I have been feeling like this was my sons problem. Thanks for this blog! I will look into buying AAS.

Christine Nadolny

says:

Since we have always homeschooled, I didn’t know the way spelling lists were taught. So glad AAS helps us the best way to learn how to spell.

lisa

says:

I’m teaching my five year old to read, but haven’t really tackled spelling yet. Good info to ponder. Thanks!

Amy B

says:

We love AAS and AAR so much that we are already looking into purchasing the levels needed for the two newest additions to our family. We are so excited about this chapter of our lives but adding two new children who haven’t learned the way our own have and are heartily discontent with the idea of school is a bit terrifying at times. It has certainly been made so much less daunting and scary with the knowledge that they will at least love their reading and spelling instruction!! :)

Congratulations on the additions to your family, Amy!

Annie Bleuer

says:

We are finishing level 1 of AAS and my daughter is doing great! I love this system!

Carie Faulkner

says:

I love the spelling lists used in All About Spelling. I am a good speller, but I am good at memorizing. The way All About Spelling teaches has taught me so much as I’ve taught my daughter. It makes so much more sense to me now.

Rachelle

says:

My daughter struggles with spelling and reading. I found this article very helpful! Thank you!

Amber

says:

This makes a lot of sense to me. I just recieved level 1 in the mail yesterday, can’t wait to get started!

TwinMom

says:

My children have lists of words taken from a master list from the county and integrated with the reading assignments for the week. I discussed this with the teacher and she finds it to be a cumbersome process. but she has no choice. Thankfully they are also teaching the spelling rules. I have set up your program to use at home. I haven’t started yet, but I am looking forward to doing so.

Christie

says:

I’ve tried teaching with spelling word lists, with no success! My daughter tries, I try, but the words just don’t stick. Eventually, we’ve seen some improvement, but with SO very much effort. Trying now the All About Spelling method, she is excited that there are rules she can learn that will help her.

Ruth Graves

says:

All About Reading and Spelling are the only reading/spelling programs we’ve used. I did a ton of research before buying, and this was the best program for ease of use, both for the teacher and student. AAR & AAS have the approach I was looking for. We started out with level A and we’re almost through level B. It is a great program, we’re loving it!

Jody

says:

Enjoying this program.

Kristi Lay

says:

My daughter has been struggling. I homeschooled for 1st grade and put her in a Christian school at the beginning of 2nd b/c I wanted to make sure I wasn’t soing something wrong! They labeled her with mild dyslexia & mild learning disability -phew – it wasn’t all my “fault”… But I saw her slowly start getting discouraged and her attitude change to an “I can’t do it” and “that’s just the best I can do” and give up! I have hee back homeschooling again & just bought this AAS program and hoping it will help!

Kristi,
I’m sorry your daughter had to experience that sort of defeated attitude. I do hope that AAS can make a difference. We are committed to helping parents like you help their children, so if you need help along the way we are here for you by email or phone.

Kristen

says:

I haven’t had too much trouble with spelling. When my kids were in school, they were in a classical charter school.

Ginger

says:

I love the AAS approach and it worked great for my first child, but for my second child (who is dyslexic) it isn’t doing the trick. We’ve been using the program 4 days a week for 4.5 years and we just finished going through the first two books a second time. He’s able to spell about half of the words that have been covered correctly. He does great with the word lists when they are first introduced and the whole list is on the same concept, but he is unable to retain that skill, apply it in other situations, or have other review words mixed in. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Ginger,
I’m sorry to hear your son is struggling in this way.

I’m not sure, but I suspect your son my need more regular review of words before they are moved to the mastered section. All About Spelling schedules a review of the mastered cards twice each level; once mid-way through each level and once after finishing/before beginning each level. For some children, two days of reviewing the mastered cards in each level isn’t enough. It sounds like your son may be one of them. I understand. I have a couple kids that need much more regular review.

There are a few ways you can give him the more regular review he seems to need:

One way is simply to do a mastered review once a month. Once a month, one (or two or more if it takes more than 15 minutes or so) day’s spelling will be nothing but reviewing all the mastered cards. Any cards your son gets wrong, or has to hesitate and really think to know the answer, get put into the review section and gets reviewed daily for a while.

Another way is to dedicate one day each week for review. On that day review all of one color of cards, yellow, red, or blue, and some of the green cards. Say you choose Mondays as review days. The first day you would review all the yellow cards and some of the green. The following Monday, you would review all of the red cards and some of the green. The third Monday you would review all of the blue cards and some of the green. On the fourth Monday you would review all the rest of the green cards, so that you would review all the mastered cards every month. As before, any card that needs further review gets put into the review section for daily work. My co-worker, Merry, uses this method of additional review.

Another way is to review 2 of each colored cards, yellow, red, and blue, each day and 5 of the green cards. I use this method and am having great success with it with my struggling spellers. I use an index card in the mastered section of each color. I shuffle all the cards, and then put the index card at the back. Each day I draw 2 yellow cards, 2 red cards, 2 blue cards, and 5 green cards from the front of the mastered sections. If my son gets them correct without hesitation they get filed behind the index card in the back of the mastered section. If he doesn’t get them correct they go back into the review section and get reviewed daily for at least a week. At the end of the week I put them back in mastered, but mixed in in front of the index card so that they will be reviewed again within another week. When the index card works it’s way to the front, I know it’s time to shuffle the cards again and put the index card to the back. I prefer this way because my kids really dislike master reviews, so there is less crumbling when they do just a little bit every day.

We would love to help your further with the specific needs your son has. Please email us at support@allaboutlearningpress.com or call us at 715-477-1976 (M-F, 8am-4pm CST). The author, Marie, was told that her son would never learn to read and spell. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check that out. Very amazing!

D

says:

Sure wish I had been taught with this method! My oldest son is loving AAS and I’m looking forward to starting it with my younger children. Thank-you!

Jenna

says:

I’m looking into AAS for my daughter for next year.

Deirdre

says:

AAS is such a great program! We’re loving it!!!

andria g.

says:

I need AAS for my kiddos!

Terry

says:

Spelling is such a struggle for so many students. This systematic and cumulative approach makes learning the “whys” and “hows” of spelling so attainable for all learners! Thank you!

Rebecca Harris

says:

I love AAL’s approach to spelling. I must admit that I loved spelling tests. ❤ But I’ve used AAS with my oldest from the beginning and she has done very well with reading and spelling. I think she’s more of a kinesthetic learner so the tiles make it fun.

Michele

says:

As a special education teacher, I have experience with many students who struggle with spelling. I am looking forward to trying some of the strategies offered in this article. Thank you for the information.

Ruth

says:

Makes sense. Thank you for your program, my kids love it.

Lisa

says:

I like that AAS focuses on one spelling concept at a time. This opens up the conversation to other words that fit into this rule and also, ones that don’t and why.

Amy Cahill

says:

Thanks so much for helping home schoolers who are trying to do their best!

Patti

says:

The All About Spelling approach starts at the ground up with a thorough and meaningful approach to spelling- which is most successful.

Laura

says:

I can’t wait to start AAS with my son next year. This is great info.

Jaime S.

says:

I have see some of these other programs. I could understand how the kids were supposed to learn anything from them. One such program had the students do two days with some activity, crossword or fill-in-the-blank, using the list words. One the third day there’s a quiz and the student has to write all missed words 5 or 10 times each. And then on Friday, test on the list words and write all missed words 5 or 10 time again. Seems to me that would just frustrate not teach.

Jenni

says:

I haven’t started spelling yet with my early elementary children, because I feel a little intimidated by it. These are good tips.

fleur

says:

I so agree!

Emily

says:

Interestjng. I do think spelling lists are helpful and memorization is good for children. But thanks for the tips for developing a better list.

I. Bluhm

says:

I recently started using “All About Spelling” level 1 for my 11 yr old who has dyslexia. A lot of it is review for him and he is moving through it quickly. I know that we have to start at the beginning so that he doesn’t miss anything. I am so thankful to Marie for providing me with tools on how to teach my struggling speller. I look forward to seeing his progress!

Julie

says:

I started my 10 year old son in AAS this year too. We had tried a different Orton-Gillingham program that uses the Ayre’s List of frequent words. The phonograms and rules were all memorized up front and then they were applied on a Spelling list. He could not remember the rules, didn’t understand what it meant when I said, “/k/ two letter /k/ used after single short vowel sounds” and used the phonogram ou to spell any word he wasn’t sure of the vowel.

We started in September and are ready to start Level 3 after Christmas break. His spelling and writing is really taking off. We still struggle with reading.

Thank you, Julie, for sharing this. It’s great to hear how quickly your son moved through AAS 1 and 2, yet it is helping his spelling and writing already.

Thank you for sharing how your older student is doing with All About Spelling level 1.

Minnie

says:

As an adult who is terrible at spelling I couldn’t agree with you more. These semi-random spelling lists never helped me at all.

Thank you for your perspective as an adult who struggles with spelling, Minnie.

SA

says:

I am excited to try this new approach. Based on these articles I am hoping that these methods will help.

Marissa

says:

We have just started AAR and I’m looking forward to AAS.

Meghan

says:

My boys always complain about spelling and the English language. These spelling lists make so much more sense.

Lynn

says:

In a Building Spelling Skills workbook, the lists were based on various themes – vowel sounds, compound words, suffixes, prefixes, plurals, etc. One list in particular seemed to be focusing on double consonants (i.e. occurrence, embarrass, recommend) as 12/18 have this pattern. The other 6 words are hooray, daughter, authentic, awkward, brought and because. Crazy.

Wow, talk about a confusing list full of hard words. I have a couple of students that would fall over and give up if they saw a list full of 18 such words to be learned in a single week. I’m thankful they have AAS instead.

Thanks for sharing, Lynn.

Heidi

says:

I am so glad we started AAS. In level 1 even I learned something and I was an A student all through school! I never understood when letter “c” would have the sound “k” or “s”. Now thanks to teaching my daughter with AAS I do. :)

Heidi,
I understand. I was an A student too, and I have learned so much teaching my own children. I am so much better educated now that I have homeschooled one student all the way through (with 4 more to go)!

Desiree C.

says:

My 9 year old has always struggled with spelling, no matter what we’ve tried! I am using AAR with my six year old, and am considering a switch to AAS with my 9 year old. Thank you for the article! It has made my decision an easier one to make.

Desiree,
You are welcome. Also, have you seen our article on using All About Spelling with Older Students? It may have helpful information on starting AAS with a 9 year old.

Marcia Welsh

says:

We absolutely love AAS!!

Holly

says:

I love everything about your reading and spelling program. My kindergartener is halfway through level 2 of reading and over halfway through level one spelling. I tell everyone interested about how wonderful it is and how easy it is to teach!

Holly,
Word-of-mouth is the best advertisement, because it’s personal. Thank you for sharing AAR and AAS.

Rhonda Biroschik

says:

Yes, my children have had spelling lists that do not seem to make sense, but we are so programmed to that being the norm we do not think that there is any other way; we now know there is. Thank you

Jessica B.

says:

This is helpful. Thanks for sharing. My kids have never received any spelling lists because I’ve always homeschooled them but I have seen friends’ kids with lists I don’t understand. I’m glad we’re not studying for those tests!

Tavia

says:

This is so helpful and really explains how I can better use spelling lists with my children, even with varying learning styles. Thank you for another great article.

You’re welcome, Tavia. Glad to be able to help.

Michellle

says:

Amen! I was a teacher for years before becoming a homeschooling mom and used a spelling curriculum from a major educational producer. I never could understand why they chose the words on the lists or how to appropriately teach the random concepts covered. I am SO THANKFUL that you have created a system that makes sense! I wish all schools across our country would use this system!!

Thank you for sharing your teacher turned homeschool mom perspective, Michelle.

Lynne

says:

Thank you for this. I do have a question…my kids have really different learning styles. Do you think the list style should be adjusted to learning style?

Great question, Lynne.

Some students are natural spellers and would do okay with any sort of list. They might actually enjoy lists that centered around a theme like a book they are reading or a history or science subject they are studying (type #1 list above). However, even natural spellers would benefit from knowing the why of the way words are spelled, so that they can apply those concepts to new words they have never studied in the future. Such topic themed lists do not always equip students to spell unfamiliar words.

All About Spelling is set up to work with all learning pathways. Research has shown that children taught through auditory, visual, and tactile means together learn better than those taught only through their own preferred learning pathway. This article, Spelling Can Be Easy When It’s Multisensory, explains further.

Also, All About Spelling is designed to be used at the individual student’s pace, so that all students aren’t spending the same amount of time on each concept and list. Some can master the material quickly and easily, and will move through 2 or more concepts and lists a week. Others need more time and will spend 2 weeks on a single concept and list. AAS is set up that each type of learner can be accommodated easily.

So, all learning styles benefit from spelling lists centered on a single, well-organized spelling concept.

Jess L

says:

Not being a very good speller myself, this totally makes sense to me. I have been very frustrated with other spelling programs who have weird spelling list and not being able to explain the “why” on how to spell words to my kids. I am so looking forward to started and continuing this program!

Hylary

says:

My son completed Level 1 and is well into Level 2. We love AAS and AAR. His spelling has improved leaps and bounds in 2 months! It’s made his journal writing so much faster and easier.

Hylary,
This is great! Thank you for sharing how quickly your son has made leaps toward spelling success!

Faroutfan

says:

I look forward to exploring your program
More!

Jennifer

says:

Thank you for this article. I knew I liked the program, but couldn’t explain to others why it was so much better than other spelling programs. This will help me.

Christine Mayfield

says:

I learned a lot from this as I struggle to pick the best spelling program for my children.

Mary Purpura

says:

This is a very interesting idea that, on reflection, makes a lot of sense. I’m always looking for ways to set my children up for success, and spelling lists as you’ve described them fit the bill. I’m really grateful for All About Spelling. It works!

Anne J

says:

We see non-matching versions of a sound or letter all the time – usually 2-3 concepts at once, PLUS 4 Fry words, 4 “extension words” (usually related to the concepts), and 4 vocal words. To get a perfect score of 4, they have to be 100% correct, including capitalization. One tiny error and they lose half a point (3.5). My kid used a lower-case letter on our city name and lost 12.5% of the points, even though the spelling and capitalization were 100% correct on all 24 words. Frustrating on all counts, but he’s doing great anyway – probably because we are doing AAS outside of school, so he knows the rules!

Wow, Anne, how discouraging! I can see some children giving up trying at all, if one partial error like forgetting capitalization drops the score by that much. With that method, a student could get 83% of the test correct and still get a failing grade. Yes, frustrating, but at least they are learning to well outside of school.

ani

says:

Haven’t started AAS yet, but will soon when ds finishes AAR 1! If all goes well, then I may include my dd’s too.

Tara

says:

We just started using All About Spelling last week. I can already see how it is helping my girls!

kim t.

says:

I find this article very interesting. I started sequential spelling with my older two a few years ago and I think they were too young for it as they kept getting lots of words wrong, but the method made sense to me. we dropped spelling for a while, but picked it up last year using spelling power with one and the same sequential spelling level with the other. the one using sequential spelling is flying through it, so i think it is now too easy and he needs a different level. the one who uses spelling power still struggles, doesn’t master the phonics rules and there are often words in the lists we don’t like. how does your program differ from the two or combine them? I have been interested for a while now.

Kim,
Spelling Power teaches “rules” that might be actually rules. For example, it might be something like, “Long A can be spelled ai, ay, a, or eigh.” That isn’t wasn’t a rule at all. There was no prep to each individual pattern, no instruction on when ai or ay may or may not be used, etc… In contrast, All About Spelling has word lists that focus on a single new spelling concept. For example, one list focuses on the sound of long E spelled ee. To avoid confusion, additional ways to spell the sound of long E are not taught until previous ones are mastered.

With Sequential Spelling, there’s no instruction. The patterns do build, so it’s very visual, but the student just guesses, and if they get the pattern wrong they are told how to correct it. It’s very discovery oriented, which some students find very frustrating. Many prefer to be told explicitly about patterns, instead of trying to figure them out on their own. Also, Sequential Spelling does not teach any rules. All About Spelling explicitly teaches patterns and rules to students, including why words are spelled the way they are.

We have pdf documents that further compare and contrast All About Spelling with Spelling Power and Sequential Spelling. If you would like to see them, email us at support@allaboutlearningpress.com and we can email them to you.

Sandrine

says:

Thank you, this is so helpful.

Judy

says:

I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have finally found a spelling program that finally works for my kids. Thank you

Alice Ross

says:

I had this type of illogical spelling test in school and never learned to spell well. AAS is so much better. I’m seeing the patterns behind the lists I memorized.

Lenita

says:

Thank you for taking the time to write out this full explanation. I truly see the merit of this program. I have been looking for something that is going to truly give my sons a wonderful foundation in spelling. I plan to study your site.

Lenita,
Let us know if we can answer any specific questions or concerns you have.

Holly

says:

The same occurred with my son in school. He had a list on Monday and a test on Friday. He could do great if we practiced every night, but after the test, he couldn’t spell the word in writing. I really enjoy All About Spelling because of the drastically different approach. His confidence is boosted and I feel like he enjoys Spelling.

Holly,
So many students have experienced this that is pretty much the norm. It is saddening that so much time needs to be spent on something that will not be retained and that this is considered normal.

Emma

says:

I have no training in education, but I’ve always felt the Friday spelling tests just weren’t right for my daughter. Even if she’d get them right on the test, there was no follow-up or review and she’d forget them just as quickly!

Emma,
You may not have training in education, but you made a great point! On going review is very important for long term mastering. This particular blog post doesn’t discuss it, but All About Spelling does incorporate on going review in many ways.

Larissa Evans

says:

This is a great post. I often thought that my child’s teachers were missing the mark with the spelling lists they sent home each week. My daughter would almost always get 100% on the spelling tests, but then when she went to use those words in sentences she wrote, she usually misspelled them. Thank you for this wonderful program!

Jennifer

says:

We are loving AAR and AAS. First product that is making sense to my daughter.

Steph

says:

This is one of the reasons I am so glad I made the switch to AAS. My daughter used to hate spelling and be so unsure of herself. We haven’t even finished level one and I can see a change as the concepts begin to stick in her brain.

Steph,
Thank you for sharing how you are seeing changes in your daughter’s spelling, and she hasn’t even finished Level 1 yet. Keep up the great work.

Carolynn M. slocum

says:

I love the AAS approach to spelling. I probably owned 48 different programs before I discovered this one, it really works!

Lisa

says:

Yours is the first spelling program that has made sense to us & has really helped my children. I’ve learned a lot of new concepts as well!

Lisa,
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE learning alongside my children.

Damaris

says:

Thank you for your post. I had spelling lists given on Mondays and test taken on Fridays in elementary school ages ago. I remember thinking how unrelated to school work the list was.

Mistie

says:

Unfortunately, I gave spelling tests like this for years back when I taught first and second grade. I have been home for 10 years now and am now homeschooling my two. I never felt like I was “teaching” my kids to really spell. It always felt like it was just memorization. My daughter was in school up through last year (she’s in 6th grade now). She learned the same way, mostly, and even won a spelling bee, but often misspells words she should know by now because she reverts back to phonetic spelling. She basically learned to memorize words for a test. Needless to say, we began AAS with my first grade son this year :) We are very pleased.

Mistie,
Thank you for sharing your interesting experiences with spelling tests.

Emily

says:

Very helpful. Thank you!

Stevie Arledge

says:

I just started using AAS with my 10 year old Dyslexic son. He comments on how he likes it and it is fun. I am planning to begin using it with my 12 year old son who struggles somewhat with spelling, to strengthen his understanding of spelling rules. So far, we love the AAS program.

Janet

says:

Having the spelling list using words that use the same spelling concept makes a lot of sense to help teach a child how to spell.

Kathryn

says:

We have been using AAS and AAR for several weeks and I am already seeing some great results with my 9 year old son. Thank you so much for this program!

Kathryn,
Thank you for sharing that our programs are already making a difference for your son after just several weeks of use.

Jen

says:

My kids and I are big fans of all about spelling!

Kristi

says:

This is fantastic! I really hope to be able to use this Spelling curriculum in the near future.

Bethany

says:

I look forward to well thought out spelling lists when we begin AAS in a year or two.

Cj Holloway

says:

Your reading program is amazing! My son is dyslexic, I can’t wait to try All About Speling with him as well!

Christelle

says:

This makes total sense. I think it could help my boys with their spelling !!!

Sherilyn F

says:

When my son prepared for spelling tests, he would memorize the spelling of each word. He forgot it by the following week. Now he knows spelling rules and strategies to spell words thanks to AAS.

Sherilyn,
Yes, that “learn for the test, then forget” mindset is common with many students using traditional lists. Thank you for sharing the difference in learning AAS has made.

Angelique

says:

This makes sense. Done at the right pace (which is slow and slower), my active 6 and 7 yo boys are getting it, and when they miss, they quickly find the mistake on their own by reminding them of the rule. Thank you for putting together such a thorough program, because English is one crazy language!

Colleen

says:

This makes sense. I’m looking forward to trying AAS!

Katy

says:

My daughter loves AAS!! Thank you so much!!

Kristin

says:

Makes complete sense! I was just about to make a list from the “wrong way” group…thankful that I read this first!!

Kristin,
I’m glad this was timely for you!

Jessica T.

says:

This makes so much more sense to me. My son is “why” person and this approach would tap into that so much better than the way he is taught at school.

jane

says:

This does bear out in my experience with my children. We started out doing spelling based on a reading program that we used that taught using word families. Spelling went great. Then we switched to using a high frequency list. It was fine in the beginning, but as we moved through the list, it got worse and worse. My 6th grade son has never spelled better since starting AAS. We did level 1, 2, and 3 last year. This year I hope to complete levels 4 & 5, finally finishing with level 6 & 7 the following year, or maybe two.

Jane,
Just remember that AAS 7 takes students through high school level spelling. We use all of the modern Ayers list words which ranks up to 12th grade, and other various lists that rank words between 9th and 12th grade. So, if your son needs a bit more time than half a year per level, he’ll still be on target. And if he’s anything like my daughter, he’ll be correcting your spelling before long. :D

Lisa G

says:

As a teacher and now a parent, this all makes so much sense. I wish all teachers could see the logic in connecting words and use this type of logic and system in their classrooms!

Alta

says:

This makes so much sense to me. I’ve never struggled with spelling but my husband and daughter are bith dyslexic. I can’t wait to try this program with my children!

Jamie

says:

My daughter aced every spelling list ever sent home through public school. She was bored out of her mind and thus used to help the other struggling kids in her classes. Beginning homeschooling this year has allowed me to see where she needed extra help. She LOVES to be challenged. It’s so exciting for me to see her actually progressing. This is a new world for me going beyond the preschool years with home learning. It’s a little scary, however, I think the challenge is fantastic for us both!

Jamie,
Have you see our recent blog post about a dad using All About Reading with a gifted son? The same concepts apply across all areas of learning. Children do wonderfully when allowed to move forward at their own pace!

Margaret

says:

I agree.

Ashley

says:

My niece has studied spelling lists for elementary school, and it always makes me so very glad we homeschool and are able to use programs like yours that are so much better for teaching and learning!

Kim

says:

AAS seems to be working well for my boys so far. It’s well organized and easy to use. Thank you!

Amy Smith

says:

AAS has been a great help to my DD whi has struggled with spelling. Since beginning AAS she has become a more confident speller and now believes in her ability to be able to spell.

This is wonderful, Amy. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s success!

Adrian N.

says:

Thanks for the helpful article!!

Anne

says:

Bless you for creating AAS with all of this in mind!! It has been tremendous for us.

Carly Staub

says:

My daughter has easily grasped spelling concepts that she didn’t learn successfully any other way we tried. What really excites me, though, is how her confidence has also grown. Now she’s happy to try spellingnew and unfamiliar words instead of just wanting me to spell them for her.

This is great, Carly. Confidence in one’s abilities is so important!

Lacey

says:

Learning the “why” behind the concept has always helped me learn better. I am so grateful for your programs that allow me to easily pass that on to my children as we homeschool!

Mia

says:

It is so important to make sure spelling rules are understood. My son had no problem memorizing when spelled before this program. However, when it was time to spell those same words later, he had extreme difficulty.

Beth

says:

I completely agree. Having homeschooled for many years, my children and I achieved the most spelling success and progress when we focused on one concept at a time.

Thank you for sharing your experience with this, Beth. We discuss this in the first post of our Memory Series, The Funnel Concept.

Christine

says:

You are so right. The way you have organized the spelling lists do make “learning stick”. When we were at the end of All About Spelling Level 1, I had my 6 year old spell every word that we had completed through the entire book. She got them all correct. We are now almost done with Level 2. She loves both your reading and spelling programs and is learning so much and feels positive about her experience (which is the most important part for me). Thank you.

Wow, it sounds like your daughter is doing very well, Christine! Thank you for sharing.

Jessica

says:

I have been using all about reading with my 2 oldest! We are loving it!!! Would like to try the spelling.

Lindsay S

says:

My 5 year old loves spelling and reading. I don’t know what we would have done without All About Learning Press!

Sherrie

says:

I homeschool and see this types of lists all the time on the internet. I cringe when I see them because they just don’t make sense to me. Sometimes you’ll see the alphabetical list. Even some phonics programs I’ve seen may have a test where the ay, ai, aCe forms of long a are given in all the same list. I like your approach centering on only 1 concept (which is always how I’ve preferred to teach my kids on my own). We have your AAS level 2 and am looking forward to starting that as I have to do some fundamentals to go back over for my 5th grader

Sherrie,
I’ve seen some spelling tests that make me cringe too. Hopefully you find All About Spelling to be a good fit for you and your student.

TomI Carroll

says:

Love this program!

Melissa

says:

I love this program. My son has dyslexia and lots of trouble with spelling. The All About Spelling program is the only one that has helped him make real progress.

Thank you for sharing this, Melissa. It is great to hear that All About Spelling is helping him make real progress.

Melissa

says:

We’ve been using the program for a little over a month. I love how you learn rules and why you spell things a certain way. I can see my son grasping the concepts and applying them to more complicated words. Amazing!

Mia

says:

Is your son homeschooled?

Karen

says:

I’m enjoying learning the spelling rules as I am teaching them to my daughter. I was taught to spell by memorizing, and had no idea there were more rules than “I before E except after C”.

Karen,
Ah, the infamous “I before E except after C” rule that is mocked for having more exceptions than words that follow it. Sigh. All About Spelling instead focuses on rules and patterns that are reliable.

Karen

says:

I love your materials and use them for intervention.

Stacy

says:

I am very thankful for this spelling program. Not only has it improved my kids’ spelling skills, but it reminded me of all the spelling rules that were locked away in my brain’s filing cabinet! It retaught me some of the basic spelling rules that has enabled me to teach my kids to become better, smarter spellers. I can’t tell you how thankful they were to be told that they weren’t have a spelling test! Thank you!

Stacy,
This is great! Thank you for telling us how AAS has helped your kids.

Ashlea

says:

We haven’t started spelling tests yet; glad I read your post now!

Ashlea,
I’m glad this was timely for you!

Teesa

says:

I’ve been doing simple spelling lists with my first grader the first part of this year and it’s not working at all. Ready to take a different approach with AAS since he LOVES AAR!

Michelle

says:

Spelling tests never worked with my 4th and second graders either. Since we started this program, they actually get it!

Thanks for sharing that this method has worked with your students, Michelle!

Jennifer P

says:

As a reading tutor, I am always looking for new strategies for the encoding side of things.

Jenni Evans Smith

says:

Wow, this sounds like it may really help my son learn to spell.

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