Real Moms, Real Kids: A Typical Day with All About Spelling

Mother dictating word cards while child writes spelling words

Have you ever wondered what’s involved in a typical day with AAS?

Merry Marinello is a real mom who uses All About Reading and All About Spelling with her own kids. Merry is also a part of our Customer Care team. Join Merry as she shares what a typical day with AAS looks like in her homeschool.

Here’s Merry…

As a Customer Care rep for All About Learning Press, I think I have one of the best jobs in the world – talking to other moms about teaching their kids how to read and spell.

Moms often ask me what a typical day with AAS is like. I thought it might be helpful to show what happens in our homeschool and give you a peek inside our lessons.

Right now we’re in Level 6, and a step (lesson) usually takes us a week to complete. (In the early days, a step often took only 1-3 days. We went through Level 1 in about three weeks because my kids were older and already had all the words memorized – they just needed to learn the concepts.)

Here’s how we divide up our week:

Day 1: Review and New Teaching

I actually set a timer for the lessons: 15 minutes for my seventh grader and 20 minutes for my ninth grader. Each day starts with 2-5 minutes of review. Here I am trying to review the Phonogram Cards with my jokester.

Happy mother reviewing phonogram cards with son

After the review, we begin the New Teaching section. This section is scripted, so I know immediately how to demonstrate new concepts with the letter tiles on the magnet board.

Whiteboard with letter tiles from All About Spelling

When my kids were younger, we set the magnet board against the wall or couch because I didn’t have room to hang it in our school area. After the first year, I realized I could reorient the tiles vertically, so now the magnet board hangs on a nearby closet door.

Day 2: New Spelling Words

I make sure that the new material we covered yesterday is totally understood, and we do our 2-5 minutes of review. Then it’s time to meet the ten new spelling words.

I dictate the new spelling words and several sentences that contain the spelling words. After the dictation, I put the new Word Cards behind the Daily Review tab in the Spelling Review Box so we can review them tomorrow.

Word cards next to All About Spelling Level 6 Teacher's Manual

All About Spelling has a philosophy of “we don’t just teach it and forget it,” which I totally appreciate. I mean, after I put in the time to teach my kids something, I want to make sure that they remember it later, and that’s where the built-in review really helps.

Day 3: Reinforcement

We review older flashcards with just a couple of the new ones mixed in, because I like to spread the new ones out over a few days. Then we quickly review the new concept we’ve been studying, followed by reinforcement words from the More Words section and more of the dictation exercises. If my kids miss any of the reinforcement words, I make Word Cards for them and put them behind the Daily Review tab.

Day 4: Writing Station

Here’s where we fit in the Writing Station activity (which starts in Level 3 of the program.)

In the Writing Station, students make up their own sentences with words that are dictated to them. Sometimes my kids like to make a little story using the words, sometimes they try to be funny, and sometimes they try to squeeze all the words into just one sentence! Here’s one that my daughter wrote:

Notebook with child's handwritten sentences

This exercise makes a nice bridge between dictation and longer writing assignments that kids will do outside of spelling. I love how AAS gradually prepares kids for writing.

Day 5: Wrapping Things Up

Whatever we don’t get done on Days 1-4, we complete on Day 5.

If my children misspelled words in the dictation exercises during the week, I tucked those Word Cards behind the Review divider. If any concept needs to be re-taught, now’s the time to do it before we move on to the next step of the program. All About Spelling is mastery-based, so if my kids are confused about something, we fix it before moving ahead to the next lesson.

So that’s our typical week with All About Spelling. You may go faster or slower depending on your child’s needs and ability…and that’s the beauty of using a fully customizable program!

Here’s What I Love about Merry’s Story

  • Merry’s daily review time is short but consistent.
  • Merry creates her own Word Cards so her kids can master the reinforcement words.
  • She and her children have fun, which makes dictation practice more palatable!
  • Merry’s focus is mastery—she understands that it’s vital for kids to understand a concept before moving on to something new.

Did you enjoy Merry’s story? Read more stories in our Real Moms, Real Kids series.

What about you? Are your days with AAS similar to Merry’s?

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I know this is an old post, but I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to use the word cards. I typically dictate from the lesson, and thus far he hasn’t had any issues with spelling a word (my second grader, finishing up Level 1). So the cards end up in Mastered right away. Would I just put any incorrectly spelled word cards in the Review for practice till they are correctly spelled (and how many times?) thank you :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great question, Chae.

Sometimes children do master the spelling of words right away! It sounds like your student is doing well!

How is your student doing with the dictation phrases? Does he ever misspell words from there? If he does, then you would go back into the Master tab and pull that word card back into review for a while. I usually like to review a word that was misspelled at least daily for a few days and over a weekend. If my child can remember the correct spelling after two days off, I know she has a better chance of keeping it remembered.

Occasionally, however, a word in the dictation will not have a word card. It will use the same concepts as word card words, though. When that happens, I like to pull two or three word cards that use the concept that tripped my child up and put them into review. I will often make a word card for the misspelled word as well, using either an index card or our blank card templates.

All About Spelling schedules a “Master Review” twice per level. Once midway through (it was scheduled in Step 17 of AAS 1) and once between levels. When you do the Master Review, you will have your student spell all the cards in the Master section. Shuffle them, so the patterns are mixed thoroughly, and any more that he misspells or seems to hesitate and struggle through (even if it ends up being spelled correctly) should go into the Review tab.

Lastly, I think you may find our How to Handle Spelling Mistakes blog post helpful.

Let me know if you have additional questions or need more information. I’m happy to help!



This was a great help to see how the week is laid out for your family. I am also using AAS for an older child and we went pretty quickly through levels 1 and 2, but are going to slow it down now for the remaining levels.


says: Customer Service

I’m glad that helped, Nancy! Yes, I found with mine that we gradually slowed and spent more time as the levels got more complex. Let me know if you ever have any questions, I’d be happy to help!



Did you happen to use the All About Reading curriculum as well? I’m trying to figure out the best way to break those lessons up. Levels one and two usually took us 1 to 3 days to complete. However, now that my 7 year old is about to move into level 3 I’m wondering if I should slow the lessons down a bit more.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Most people find that the higher levels of All About Reading go a bit faster than the lower levels. My youngest child needed two years for level 1 and just three-quarters of a year for level 4. Levels 2 and 3 were about a year each.

However, the important thing is to work at the pace your child needs to master the material and read confidently and with a good level of fluency. If your child catches on to the lessons fairly easily and can read the stories well, needing to sound out or have help with no more than a few words per page, then the pace you are working at is fine!

We recommend setting a timer for 20 minutes and placing a bookmark where you left off so you know where to start the next day. Many children can get through an entire lesson in one or two 20 minute sessions this way. However, this blog post shows how I divided up AAR 2 for my daughter to spend a week on a lesson, as at that time she often needed a week to be ready to move on, Real Moms, Real Kids: A Typical Day with All About Reading.

Angela Ferguson


I have a 14 year old son who has various learning struggles. He also has ADD, OCD, and anxiety. I have tried various curriculums with no success. He HATES to learn anything! I am going to start my younger son on AAS Level 1, and plan to do it with the older one as well. My question is, do you recommend a grammar and writing program for kiddos who struggle like my son? He really cannot write much more than a very basic sentence and even that usually has no punctuation, capital letters, or correct spelling. Any help would be appreciated!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry your son is struggling so! No, I would not recommend doing grammar and writing with a student that is only capable of writing basic sentences. Rather, work with him with All About Spelling in a focused way. We typically recommend working in it for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, but an older student such as your son may be fine with 30 minutes at a time or even two 20 minute sessions a day. Go as quickly through the materials as he can, but as slowly as necessary for him to master the concepts. Our Using All About Spelling with Older Students blog post will help you to fast track while still ensuring he is learning the material. It is important in this sort of situation to work separately with your two students, even though they will be starting at the same level. It may even be best to work with each while the other is in another room, so they can each focus on the material and not worry about what the other is doing or not doing.

All About Spelling has a gradual progression for increasing students stamina and fluency in writing, from words and short phrases in Level 1, to phrases and short sentences in Level 2, to 12 dictation sentences per step in Level 3. Partway through this level, the Writing Station is introduced. In this exercise, students write sentences of their own that they make up using some of their spelling words.

In this way, students have begun to use words in a more real-world context through dictation and writing, to help them transition to longer writing assignments. Dictation and the Writing Station both serve as an important bridge between spelling words in the context of lists (where the patterns are similar), and more “real world” writing. By the end of Level 3, students have mastered about 1000 words from the regular and reinforcement lists, and they have developed stamina and some beginning editing skills that will help them when they start a formal writing program.

So, with a dedicated focus with All About Spelling, you can build up the foundational skills your 14-year-old needs to have success in grammar and writing.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have additional questions or need more information.



My days are similar, however, I really don’t have the tools to implement any structure into my lessons; for me it feels like I’m dumping information onto the kids and they really aren’t catching it! The tiles that accompany AAR would help!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, I think you will find our letter tiles very helpful! I know they make all the difference for my kids between not understanding a concept and finally mastering it.



I would be interested in knowing what program you used before and did your children ever have an attitude about “starting over” at the beginning with AAS? My 6th grader is not responding well ( attitude). He is not mastering the concepts in level 1( forgetting the sounds for a phonogram on the card) but still spells the words correctly during dictation.
Please advise on this. Thanks



How have you organized the cards for multiple students?
How much do you review and how often do you review that which you though had been mastered, but no they seem to have forgotten?
We have not been very consistent with it due to some logistics, but hope that with moving into a new home, we will be able to get a white board up on the wall, and be able to tackle it 4 days a week.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great questions, Jenny.

Are your multiple students in the same level working on the same Steps together? If they are, then one option would be to keep cards in review until every student has mastered them. This may mean extra review for one or more students, but that won’t hurt them.

If your students are in different levels, each needs their own review box and divider cards. You could pass all the previous level cards onto the next student but “borrow” them back for master reviews. If there are a few cards that the older student has not mastered, you could make them one from an index card. This method is best when students are at least 2 levels apart and the older student doesn’t struggle with spelling.

If your students are only a level apart or even closer, or if the older student struggles, it may be best to have a Student Packet for each. Struggling students usually need much more frequent review. One of my students was still occasionally having trouble with vowel phonograms when he was in level 5!

I have three students using AAS, but only two Student Packets, as my middle student does not struggle. My oldest and youngest both have their own sets, with the middle passing his cards down to his sister who is two levels below him. When he needs to review all the yellow, red, and blue cards, I use his sister’s and then make him index card versions of any cards he needs to work on more.

I have a couple of kids that need more regular review of the mastered sections of each card type than the 2 Master Reviews scheduled in each level (one mid-way through each level and one between levels). What I do for them is review 2 of each of the yellow, red, and blue cards each day and 5 of the green cards. 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 student gets them correct without hesitation, the cards 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. If my student gets them correct the start of the next week, I put them back in mastered but mixed into the front so that they will be reviewed again within another week or so. 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 have had great success with this method with my struggling spellers.

Being consistent with spelling does make a big difference for most students, so your plan to work on it 4 days a week is good. I do spelling only 4 days a week too. I use Monday mornings, after 3 days without spelling, as a great time to move words from review into the mastered section. I figure if they remember how to spell them over the weekend, then they are ready to go a week or so without reviewing them again.

I hope this helps, but let me know if you have more questions or need anything.



Hi Robin when you review the words are you just reviewing the “10 new words”? Also are you asking them to spell the words and if so are the flash cards just for us parents to organize what has been / needs to be taught?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good question, Hannah.

Yes, you will review the 10 new word cards you are working on in the Step you are in, but you will also review any word cards that your student may need additional review with. When my student misspells a word she should have mastered, I either pull the word card out of the mastered tab or if there isn’t a card for that word, I make one. I mostly use index cards, but we do have a blank card template you can use as well.

The main function of the word cards is for the teacher to organize the customized review for each student. The divider tabs allow you to easily see what needs reviewed, what has been mastered, and what you will get to in future lessons. However, the cards are also used by the student at times. We ask students to mark the phonograms that don’t make the sounds we expect them to make on the word card when the word is a rule-breaker. The cards can be used for review games and activities. And we recommend showing the card to the student after she spells the word, whether she spells it correctly or not to help build their visual memory of it.

I hope this clears things up for you, but please let me know if you have additional questions or need more information.

Jen A


Love the daily insight.



My 9 year old son has been struggling with reading/writing/spelling while his 6 year old brother has been thriving! (Very frustrating) Come to find out he is dyslexic and All About Reading has helped him dramatically! I definitely would love to give All About Spelling a try! Thank you so much for such an affordable program (compared to others) We just wish you had EVERY subject ;)



I can not wait for our tax return: We’re purchasing the program! I have a ten year old student who has really struggled since the start of home school and I thought it was me until my six year old started school this year and she is reading. Nice to hear other customers that have similar “stories”.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s good to hear that All About Reading is working so well with your older son.

Mary Lou Hom


This is SOOOOO helpful!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you! I know that we have talked many times on the FB page. But this blog post Merry is EXACTLY what I needed today.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad to hear that, Mary Lou! I’ll let Merry know you found this exactly what you needed to day.



Just bought this curriculum today after a friend raved about it! What is the purpose of the jail on the board?? So excited to put this together!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

The jail is used starting in All About Spelling Level 2 for “rule breakers”. Rule breakers are words that have sounds spelled in ways we don’t expect them to be spelled. An example is the word of, where the f says /v/. Another example is the word been, where ee says short i (this is in the US, and parts of Canadian, other English speakers say been with the long e sound).



I’ve found that review is very crucial and helpful.

Stefani M.


Ah, a sigh of relief. It’s good to know that lessons can be stretched over more than one day. We are in AAR level 1, and a lesson takes anywhere from 1-5 days, depending on how many words are on the fluency sheet. At first I felt bad for taking more than one day, but I realized that’s what my son needed, and this post just reaffirms that. Thanks!



Yes, some of those steps in AAR would be quite a lot to accomplish in one day! Usually working for about 20 minutes on reading is plenty. Plus, it takes time to develop fluency, and that means reading and reviewing over many days. I think you’re on the right track, Stefani.

Merry :-)



LOVE LOVE LOVE AAS! I currently use it for my 4th grade son. Can’t wait to start off my youngest with AAR!



Thank you so much for sharing! We have been using AAS for a year now and are extremely pleased with the results. It has been a great “refresher” for me to see how other moms do AAS. I just ordered Level 3 and am excited to begin using it during the coming school year! :)

Kay Bindrim


This is a great post! I copied it to show to clients when I show AAL products! :-) Kay

Dawn Kilgore


thank you for sharing your day on this blog. I am just starting AAS and you have given me hope that Haylee will be able to read and spell. Haylee is suffering from her dyslexia, she loves to books but no matter what program I have used in the past it hasn’t worked for her. Thanks for sharing it shows this program may be the answer to my prayers for Haylee is finally be able to crack the reading and spelling. Oh and your Jail Idea is very cute. Be blessed.



Thanks so much for posting about this topic. I’ve been curious about All About Spelling for my seventh grader and your post was a helpful insight into how it works.



I really want to try this!



Thank you so much for posting this! it is very helpful to see how using AAS looks at different levels and ages. thank you, jen

Thanks for the how to tips! I can’t wait to start this program with my 3rd grader in the Fall.

Aimee D


Thank you for sharing, Merry! This has given me some ideas for working with my 3rd grader. So glad that AAS has so many great people willing to share with all of us!



I really want to try this program! It’s great to read about how someone actually uses AAS everyday. Thanks for posting!



Great post! Thank you for sharing your typical lesson! We just finished level 1, so it’s nice to have a little peek into what is to come!



It’s wonderful to see the program in action with an older student. My son has completed three years of the program, and it looks like we approach it in much the same way. Thanks for sharing the fun photos!



AAS and AAR are next up on my list of curricula to try out!



This looks like it would be the perfect fit for our family. I love how it’s laid out step by step so there’s no way we would miss anything.



I hope we will be able to try out this program very soon. Thanks for all the pictures!



Thanks for sharing how you implement your program. It is laid out so well but I really appreciate seeing it in action!



Wow, what a great program!



Thanks for the post. We love AAS!