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Segmenting: A Critical Skill for Spelling

Segmenting: A Critical Skill for Spelling from All About Spelling

I’d like to let you in on a huge spelling secret.

This one secret has unlocked the door to spelling for many kids—including older kids who have previously struggled with spelling.

In fact, if I could teach only two spelling concepts to kids, this would be the second one I would choose. (The first concept I would teach would be the phonograms.)

So what is this secret to great spelling?

Segmenting!

Segmenting is such a crucial skill for spelling that after it is introduced in the second lesson of All About Spelling Level 1, we reinforce it in every single spelling lesson through Levels 1 and 2.

What Is Segmenting?

Segmenting is the ability to hear the individual sounds in words. It improves phonological awareness and long-term spelling comprehension.

Think of segmenting as the opposite of blending. When we speak, we blend sounds together to make a word. In segmenting, we take the individual sounds apart. For example, there are three separate sounds in the word ham.

Segmenting the word "ham"

In the word shrimp, there are five separate speech sounds. Even though there are six letters, the SH phonogram represents the single sound of /sh/.

Segmenting the word "shrimp"

How Do We Teach Segmenting?

Segmenting can be taught using colored tokens, coins, or squares of paper. You can see a demonstration of how we teach it in the video below.

We start with short words that have initial sounds that are easy to hold, such as see (ssss-ee), row (rrrr-ow), and may (mmmm-ay). These words are easier for your child to segment into their separate sounds.

Then we move on to words that have initial sounds that aren’t as easy to hold, such as go, key, and pie.

After learning to segment words with two sounds, we can move on to words with three sounds, such as ship (/sh/-/i/-/p/).

Moving from Segmenting to Spelling

After the student is able to segment words into speech sounds using tokens, we move on to segmenting words using letter tiles. It is a simple transition: the student still segments the word aloud, but instead of pulling down a token, he pulls down a letter tile for each sound.

There are three basic steps.

1. Dictate the word, and then point to the tiles to indicate to the student that it is his turn to use the tiles.

Segmenting - dictate the word "had"

2. The student segments the word aloud, pulling down a tile for each sound.

Segmenting - student spells with letter tiles

3. The student reads the word he just spelled. Reading the word enables the student to self-correct if he has made a mistake.

Segmenting - student reads the word he just spelled

After segmenting words with the letter tiles, the student is ready to move on to spelling with paper and pencil. The student can eventually go straight from hearing a dictated word to writing on paper, segmenting the word in his head if necessary.

So there you have it—one of my big secrets to helping kids with spelling. I hope you will try segmenting with your child.

For More Help with Teaching Spelling

Segmenting - 20 Best Tips for teaching Reading and Spelling

Find more great tips for teaching spelling in my free report, “20 Best Tips for Teaching Reading and Spelling.”

This report gives you a glimpse into the proven strategies we’ve used to help over 150,000 amazing children (and adults) learn to read and spell.

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Leave a Comment

Michelle Els

says:

Thanks for info on segmenting. Need to work on this with my son.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Michelle. Let us know if you have questions about segmenting or helping your son work on this skill.

Tammy

says:

I have a student with Autism who is at a level 5 reader Year 1. He can say the sounds b-a-t could write beginning letter and middle sound could say ending sound but cannot recognise letter / sound. Admits he does not knows what the letter looks like. He is is good at repetitive/rote learning of readers etc. How can I advance his independent writing and spelling skills? High frequency word activities I am guessing…. Any Help Appreciated

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tammy,
We have a lot of tips on Teaching Reading and Spelling to Autistic Children.

It sounds to me that he needs direct and explicit instruction to learn all the letters and phonograms and their sounds. This will help him with spelling and writing far more in the long term than focusing on rote learning high frequency words. Since he is good at repetitive and rote learning, if someone were to help him to master all the letters and phonograms, he would likely do very well and quickly make progress.

All About Spelling level 1 would get him confident with letters and phonograms and would have him spelling words like bat easily in little time.

I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have further questions.

Lydia R.

says:

I’ve been teaching my younger son reading for two weeks since he turned four; this includes ‘gluing’ sounds together into words. Here’s what happened today:

Me: “/s-i-ng/”
4 y.o.: “/s-i-ng/”
Me: “What word is that?”
4 y.o.: *grins widely* “Dance.”

Teaching him reading (and later spelling) will never get boring.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lydia,
This made me smile. I’ve listened to, “/c/-/aaaa/-/t/, cop!” so many times over the years of teaching my five to read. At least your son somehow knew that the word had something to do with music. :D

You may wish to start your 4 year old with phonological awareness activities to help him hear and manipulate the sounds in words. Children that have strong phonological awareness skills find blending sounds into words easy. This page covers How to Develop Phonological Awareness skills, however you may also consider our Pre-reading Level. The Language Exploration activities of each lesson of Pre-reading works on phonological awareness skills. You can see samples of these activities in our sample of the Pre-reading Teacher’s Manual.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

It makes it easier for children to learn.

Jennifer M Smith

says:

My daughter loves her ‘extra’ school books – love it when they don’t realize they’re learning but getting to use all the benefits…smoother reading, quicker recognition etc. Thanks AAR/AAS!

Nancy

says:

Sometimes it’s really hard for them to hear the different sounds, even if they’re not attached to letters. Doing lots of practice on rhyming…

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nancy,
Yes, some students do struggle to hear all the sounds in words. Rhyming is just the beginning, however, of all the different ways phonological awareness can be practiced and built upon.

Lee Duncan

says:

i’ve found letter tiles a great teaching tool, especially when the child makes the sound of the letter while drawing them together. They have the experience of seeing how combining sounds makes a word. And they can spell!

Renae B.

says:

We are not ready to start all about spelling, but will look forward to a program that goes alongside/reinforces the reading program so well.

Amy Fanning

says:

This has really helped my kids with their spelling. I LOVE All About Spelling!

Lisa V.

says:

Thank you for the great ideas.

Meg Walton

says:

I am a believer! Thank you for the great tips!

victoria Fernandez

says:

I am so grateful to have found this program! As a child i always struggled with spelling, and was concerned about teaching my kids but this program has made it so easy to teach. It makes so much sense to teach this way!

Karen

says:

We have successfully learned segmenting, I believe. Now for mastering more!!! We enjoy AAS.

Marianne Walker

says:

This has helped my daughter so much. We love all about reading and spelling :)

Stephen W

says:

Very interesting. I would think it might cause some confusion if the child separates all the sounds.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

In what way do you mean, Stephen? Teaching children to segment words into their individual sounds results in less confusion. Note, we are teaching children to segment by sounds, not by letters. Some sounds in English are spelled with more than one letter, but is segmented as one sound. For example, the word shop is spelled with 4 letters, but it is segmented into just 3 sounds, /sh/-/ŏ/-/p/.

Dana W

says:

Thank you! I am going to try this tip with my son.

April Johnson

says:

Thanks for this information, it was very helpful. I kind of do this now but I never knew there was a name for it . So thank you for explaining this concept.

Nicole D.

says:

Love this program!

toshia frank

says:

This technique has my son drastically. He gets how to figure out words now. We absolutely love this program.

Angie Cobler

says:

How could I get a catalog and price for level 1 spellong?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Angie,
We don’t have a printed catalog; all of our products are described online. Here is the link to our All About Spelling 1 page.

Angie Cobler

says:

Thanks so much for getting back to me have two kids struggling with spelling but are awesome readers.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Angie,
I found All About Spelling many years ago for my daughter, who was a great reader but struggled terribly with spelling. Now she is 17, and she was telling me just today that her co-worker was asking everyone to spell words during their shift the other night and she was out spelling everyone! (She works at a pizza place and they do weird things like that in the kitchen sometimes.)

Elissa Hardy

says:

My oldest boy struggles a bit with this…he likes to guess the word or not read all the letters. This concept is really helping him.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elissa,
You might find this blog post on breaking the word guessing habit to be helpful.

Crystal

says:

I absolutely love how this has helped my daughter with writing and spelling!

Dianne

says:

Segmenting is vital to spelling multisyllabic words. It makes it much less intimidating for the kids.

Jeannette

says:

This has been a great help in teaching spelling!

Karen Simmons

says:

Segmenting is a great tool! I wish I had this when my older children were learning to read and spell. My younger children are benefiting so much from this technique. I have even had my older children “help” my younger ones with segmenting to sneak in some reinforcement for them ;)

Anna Christensen

says:

This is a very helpful skill. I’m now teaching it to all three of my children!

Susanne

says:

The very first spelling program I used with my oldest daughter taught using this concept and I’ve found it very helpful. Thanks for all the tips and helps you pass along!

Yolanda

says:

Love the all about spelling program, I used it with my 2nd, 4th and 5th grade classes, there was major improvement

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Yolanda!

Yolanda

says:

Over the all about spelling program, I used it with my 2nd, 4th and 5th grade classes, there was major improvement

G F

says:

Thanks for such an informative blog. Your tips are always spot-on. I have book-marked many of them for use with my struggling readers!

em

says:

Food for thought! Thanks!

Heidi G.

says:

Good info. Thank you.

Maria

says:

Great gear shift from teaching a child to read. Now the focus is segmenting rather than blending.

Talia

says:

This was a real game changer for my daughter. She wasn’t just memorizing word families but actually listening for sounds. This skill also really improved her speech because, again, she was breaking each sound apart and not dropping any out.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Talia,
Thank you for sharing the benefits of segmenting that you have seen in your daughter. It’s a great skill to work on and master!

Marina Zinn

says:

So much different from the approach of sight word, where the words could be logically segmented. I love it, I wish I should have known it for my older daughter to supplement her public school experience with learning literacy.

Mary

says:

Anxiously waiting for level 1 of all about spelling!

Lauren

says:

Thanks for the great info!

April Green

says:

Would love this for my 7yo, with autism.

Anne J

says:

So helpful – thank you!

Leigha

says:

Excited to try AAR level 1!

Jessica

says:

Love the AAR system!

Katie Corbin

says:

Thank you so much for the great tips!

Leah Farmer

says:

Love AAR & AAS started using with my 3rd grade daughter who struggled with reading and was diagnosed with Dyslexia and now using with my 6 year old son as well!

Natalie A.

says:

We are loving the AAR and AAS curriculums for my son. I am looking forward to using it with my younger daughter when she is ready.

Tara

says:

Great post and excellent tips!

Micah

says:

Would love to try this with my children.

April F

says:

Great tips!

Michelle

says:

Thanks for the tips.

Megan

says:

We are loving this and I can see the benefits!

Kelly

says:

I’m so excited to start this with my daughter this upcoming school year. Hopefully this will help both of us become better spellers.

Jordan

says:

This has helped my children so much! The way the tiles are segmented really made it click!

Texas Momma

says:

This skill has helped my kids hear the different sounds & spell much better. When they forget to do this is when they start misspelling words. It’s even helped me with my spelling as an adult!

Melissa F

says:

Great post, and great techniques!

DAwn

says:

Love All About Reading!!

Desiree

says:

Wow! This is such a helpful way of teaching spelling!

Carmen

says:

Thanks, this was helpful!!

Amy

says:

Making the switch to all about spelling was one of the the best decisions we made, my son went from hating spelling to asking to do spelling class

Jennifer

says:

We are new to AAS and AAR and we are loving them!!!!

Carrie

says:

Thank you for being diligent in writing informative blog posts. They are always filled with tips to help and are very encouraging to me.

Amanda

says:

Thank you! This helps so much!

Meg Voss

says:

Thank you for this article! We have begun using this technique, and it seems to be working!

Cari Shelton

says:

I love this curriculum!

Agnes

says:

I am so encouraged with the process my struggling reader is making! The other day our son’s oldest sister heard him reading to me. She was blown away! “WOW!” She exclaimed. “______’s reading has improved like crazy!” Thanks AAR for this awesome program! (Even I’m learning from it!) LOL

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

This is great, Agnes. It’s especially rewarding when someone other than mom or teacher notices the improvement. Thank you for sharing your son’s success story!

Amanda

says:

Interesting blog post. Looking forward to getting started with our youngest.

Kim Geletzke

says:

Thank you for this!! Can’t wait to try it!

Amanda

says:

Thank you for all the advice!! We have been loving the first level of AAR this year!!!

Heather Bauer

says:

Can’t wait to use AAR pre readers with two of my children.

Renee Seats

says:

Looking forward to our next school year knowing we will ve using AAR & AAS.

Sarah Caldwell

says:

We love you guys! Spelling and reading were the two subjects I was nervous about teaching, but you make it so easy and fun! My girls love their letter tiles!

Rachel

says:

Love this curriculum!

Adriane

says:

We are almost done with All About Spelling level 1 and it amazes me that my kindergarten daughter can figure out how to spell most any word she needs to use. Thank you!

Tiffany Warman

says:

Thanks for the tips. I’m teaching my 4 year old how to read now. It’s an exciting time!

Trina

says:

I have almost completed All About Spelling Level 1 with my daughter. She was not gaining an understanding of spelling rules from her current spelling book. Thankful for the methods in All About Spelling!

Ann

says:

Segmenting is so vital in learning how to spell.

Keyla Eubank

says:

Yay!

Kathy Humphries

says:

I will be homeschooling my grandson soon and this would be an awesome start. With God, all things are possible. Now if air could just figure out how to register. LOL

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kathy,
The best advice I can give you for figuring out how to register to homeschool is to find homeschoolers local to you. They will know the ends and outs of how to do it, and be able to give you details about local issues that state and national organizations would not be aware of. For example, locally we have to register at the county superintendents office, but I could tell you that the building is hard to find even if you have the address, because it’s set back from the street with a tiny sign.

Beth

says:

This is perfect for showing what a proficient speller does in their mind!

Cora

says:

This hands-on activity helps children remember the letter and sound faster.

Cora

says:

This is an effective interactive activity!

Christia Colquitt

says:

I have used All About Spelling with all of my kids and segmenting is key! It makes spelling not so scary!!

Damita Jo Banda

says:

Thank you for this. My son will be starting on level one this fall, I. can’t wait.

Krystle Dunton

says:

I just ordered level 1, excited to get started with my children.

Danielle Coleman

says:

Do skills like this work well for kids with special needs? I have a daughter with Down syndrome and we have been told it’s better/more effective to teach whole word reading instead, but I’ve always wondered at how to support the ability to decode unfamiliar words through that method. Thank you!

Hélène

says:

In my layman’s opinion, if the child can comprehend it, do phonics. How do y o u know if he can? Try it. You can always go to look-say method if you need to. It is much more difficult to go back to phonics tho, once a child’s been taught to memorize word shapes instead of each letter having a sound value(s). The therapists that recommend look-say seem to think it’s just easier, most kids learn to read this way anyway–why bother with phonics for a child with downs?
It’s worth the effort if the downs child is functional enough.
I’ll have to ask my friend if theyre doing look-say with their downs child. The other 9 kids all had phonics.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Danielle,
We recently had a blog post showcasing a boy with Down syndrome and his mother, Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Reading and Down Syndrome. Skills like this are working well with Joseph! We have had great reports from other parents of Down syndrome children as well.

We do have a one year money back “Go Ahead and Use It” guarantee. You can try it for a good long while, and it doesn’t work for your daughter you can return it.

Mary

says:

Great information. Thanks!

Arienne Martin

says:

This is so important! And I think it’s fun! Enthusiasm in the teacher will rub off on the student!

Annie

says:

This seems different than how my 12 year old learned in prek and I wonder if it is part of why he struggles now. So many things I would do differently with my kids if I could go back knowing what I know now. . .

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Annie,
You might be on to something. This blog post, The “No Gaps” Approach to Reading and Spelling, explains what happens with some children.

Charlie

says:

I taught my daughter how to read and spell this way starting in preschool. She is now 6, LOVES to read, and can even read chapter books! Segmenting words really helps children learn how to actually READ the word, not just guess it.

Erica

says:

Thank you for emphasizing the importance of segmenting. This helped my son more than any other skill so far. He had a slow start, and we spent a while on this. Now he is a confident and accurate speller (and has never yet complained about doing spelling lessons).

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Erica,
Thank you for taking the time to tell us how helpful this skill has been, even though it was difficult to learn. It’s great to hear your son is a confident and accurate speller now too!

Melody

says:

This approach has made sounding out letters such an easy thing to learn. My older kids are great at sounding out big words which has made spelling much easier.

Sherry

says:

Very helpful

Emily

says:

This sounds relatively easy to do with my very verbally aware kid.

Jill

says:

I really appreciated this reminder. Although I know I am supposed to do this, I often skip this step as the kids I work with find it so hard.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jill,
It is difficult, but there are times even now in All About Spelling 6 that my child must resort to segmenting words syllable by syllable in order to master the spelling. Last week it was the word sacrifice. My son kept wanting to spell it sacerfice. Only through segmenting (which he resisted, because he finds it difficult too) could he hear that it was not /er/ but rather /r/-/ĭ/.

Hollie Seabolt

says:

I love this teaching strategy; it’s new, a lot different from what was taught to me in second grade. I would love to implement this program:)

parinita

says:

– Great ! From which class leave can we start this method ?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Parinita,
We recommend teaching segmenting right from the very beginning of learning to spell. For most children that means after they have started to read a little.

Hollie Seabolt

says:

Robin,

Would an eight year old benefit from this program?

Hollie

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Hollie,
Definitely! My daughter was 10 before we began All About Spelling, and she benefited greatly from it. This blog article, The Right Time to Start, may help you.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Janice Hiler

says:

Looks great!

Dana

says:

Love this, thank you!

Danielle Coleman

says:

Love both AAR and AAS!

Lisa

says:

Just started AAR 1. Great info!! Thanks!!

Amanda

says:

Great information. Thank you!

Chandra

says:

While segmenting isn’t the favorite part of the lessons for my son, I can see that it has made a huge difference in his writing/spelling!

Misty

says:

Thank you. This is very helpful. We are starting Level 1 in the fall. Looking forward to it.

Carmen

says:

Great strategy to help struggling spellers!

M Shreve

says:

We finished level 1 and are on level two. This curriculum has been wonderful for teaching a struggling learner.

Amy

says:

I love these ideas for teaching segmenting. I’ve always called it “chunking”. LOL.

Holly

says:

This really helps my second child! He spells better phonetically than by memory!

Bec

says:

My late reader has always struggled with this step!

Leah

says:

Very helpful–thank you!

D Barnes

says:

Great information! Thanks!

Sasha

says:

Amazingly easy way to teach something that seemed so difficult…Thank you!!!

Kristen

says:

Great video tutorials! Thank you

alicia

says:

thank you so much! very helpful!

Kim Clouse

says:

This has been the best program for our son. He enjoys Spelling and it’s never a struggle to get him engaged.

Lisa

says:

We started using this program this year and it has helped my 10 year old son tremendously. We love it!

Marilyn Fuqua

says:

this is such a needed skill! Thanks for all your expertise & hard work! You make it so easy for all of us!

Kandi

says:

We are going to be trying both programs in the fall. I have heard great things about all about.

Erika P

says:

My son is almost finished with AAR level 1, so we will be starting AAS Level 1 soon. However, he gets really upset every time I pull out the board so he can figure out tricky words using the blending procedure. He gets so agitated because I think he wants to figure it out on his own. I’m concerned how to help him see that the board will actually help him in the long term versus trying to figure out the words by just looking at the card. I can see from this article that board work will increase and I am concerned he will get agitated. Any thoughts on how to encourage him?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Erika,
One way is simply to always use the board, even if just for a minute or two, with each day’s work. When the board and letter tiles are no longer pulled out only when he has trouble, then he may be much more accepting.

Then, maybe if you explain the benefits of the tiles and why they are used it would help him. This article focuses on the benefits of the tiles with spelling, but it applies to reading as well.

Lastly, would you be willing to allow us to use your question on our Facebook page? If we ask your question there we would be able to get ideas from many parents.

Bethany

says:

I have loved AAS! I have used it for my dyslexic kids and have recommended it to everyone!

Charis

says:

Thank you for this helpful demonstration!

How does this work with irregular words, such as “good”- what tiles would they pull down for the vowel sound? Would they pull down an “O” or a “U”? Would that end up being confusing for the when they have to actually spell it with all the letters later?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Charis,
At the beginning, the student would just pull down tokens, coins, or something blank for the word good, /g/-/ŏo/-/d/.

Long before a child would be asked to segment this word with tiles, he would be taught the OO phonogram and be introduced to the vowel team tile with OO on it. Then when he is asked to segment the word, he would pull down the G tile and say /g/, then the OO tile and say /ŏo/, and then the D tile and say /d/. The OO phonogram and tile are not introduced until Step 11 of All About Spelling 3.

This was a great question, by the way. Thanks for asking it!

Charis

says:

Thank you for the helpful response! So it sounds like there would be different tiles for homonyms such as “ee” and “ea” and “ie”? Could you explain how AAS teaches kids how to know which one to use? Or “two”, “too” and “to”?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Charis,
Yes! Our letter tiles include separate tiles for all the consonant and vowel teams, plus special sounds, prefixes, suffixes, and more. You can see all the separate phonograms we teach by looking at our free Phonogram App.

As for how All About Spelling teaches sounds that can be spelled in multiple ways, such as the long E sound, it teaches just one spelling at a time. The child masters the words with the most common spelling first, then moves on to other ways to spell the same sound. Usually there are many lessons in between learning these different spellings, unless there is a way to know how to use one or the other. For example, it can help to know that e-consonant-e is the least common way to spell the long E sound.

Starting in AAS 2, Word Banks are included so your child can get familiar with how a word should look. These are scheduled for your child to read periodically, and you can have your child read them more often as needed. You can see what these Word Banks look like, plus read about other spelling strategies we use, in this blog post, 4 Spelling Strategies You Won’t Want to Miss.

In the case of homophones such as two, too, and to, practice is provided. Starting in AAS 3, there are special exercises and sentence dictation.

Anymore excellent questions for me? :D

Charis

says:

Thank you again! Such a thoughtful and thorough approach.

joy

says:

I’ve just begun teaching early elementary and I’ve had to learn a lot of things about basic reading. Most of my kids are able to segment but have trouble blending. I have to give more practice using letter tiles instead of just using Elkonin sound boxes.

Joy

says:

We love AAS! I have one student on Level 2 now.

Melissa

says:

Thanks for this good explanation of the whys of segmenting!
How do you handle Silent E when segmenting words? There is no sound to segment?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Melissa,
You would segment the word name as /n/-/ā/-/m/. The word may have 4 letters, but it only has 3 sounds. Segmenting has the student focusing on the sounds only, not the letters. The word show, for example, also has 4 letters but it only has 2 sounds /sh/-/ō/.

All About Spelling teaches students how to spell with Silent E starting in AAS 2 (but it continues into AAS 3 because Silent E has 7 jobs!). However, when segmenting words with Silent E no token is pulled down for the E, as it makes no sound.

kylia

says:

Love this program! All 3 of my kids are taking it and they find it so simple and easy to understand.

Belindah

says:

My 10 year old struggles with spelling. He reads well and has great comprehension. I’m not sure where the gaps are and I’m wondering if I should just start him on AAS level 1.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Belindah,
Yes, 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 don’t recommend starting higher than level 2.

We encourage 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 he already knows and slow down on the parts that he needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure he understands the concept being taught, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

Faith

says:

This program was recommended by our homeschool end of year testing group.

Michelle

says:

My 3 daughters learned to read with this program. It is so easy and fun!

c.o.

says:

This has really helped my son who has struggled for a long time with dyslexia. He is really making progress, now that we started the all about reading and breaking the word apart, and building them in segments, has helped him finally be able to “put it all together”.

Reesa

says:

I love your All About Spelling series. I am learning so much right alongside my children!

Nyssa

says:

Thank you for your blog posts with tips. They are quick but helpful.

Julie Hudson

says:

I have been hoping to purchase one of these sets in the near future for each of my girls, pre-reader and a second grader level three or four. I just received the all about Spelling and am excited to get going with this program after really struggling with the Spell to Read and Write program. My second grader is a great reader but struggles with spelling and does not enjoy the SWR program what so ever.

Lindsey Jacobs

says:

This has been huge for us. Segmenting made spelling finally make sense to my son.

Christina Morales

says:

This is a helpful tool. It also helps with a struggling reader. Bring able to break a word down into all it parts helps to demystify the word and give the child power to move forward. Thanks!

Natasha M

says:

My 15 year old daughter needs this, but for more advanced words. If I started at the beginning, she’d balk at it right away, thinking I was treating her like a baby. Do you have something for teens?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Natasha,
All About Spelling has been used very successfully with teens and adults.

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.

However, we encourage 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. This article also details how you can help your older student be accepting of starting at the beginning.

This blog entry demonstrates how my co-worker used the program with her 15-year-old son.

Jill VW

says:

This is not the first reading curriculum I have tried but it will be my last. My son is reading! I find the approach to teaching very clear and easy to engage. My son doesn’t feel too overwhelmed and feels great when he finishes a story. This program is working out nicely for us.

Jill A.

says:

I just began homeschooling my kindergartener this year and was so lucky to find All About Reading! It has given me confidence as a teacher and my daughter picked up reading so fast!!! Love the readers that come with the system! I won’t be using any other system BUT AAR or AAS!!!

Beth

says:

Love the phonogram app! Sure to be very helpful, thank you.

Rachel Rice

says:

We have just begun Spelling 1. We are on Step 8 and my daughter is already doing better in spelling. I think segmenting is one of the main reasons!

Nancy

says:

My daughter had a hard time with articulation. I think this program would be very helpful for her!

Dana M.

says:

My boys have slight to moderate articulation disorders which have caused difficulty in recognizing sounds in words. I researched so many different programs to teach both reading and spelling and we decided to use All About Spelling and All About Reading. They have both been a blessing! The segmenting taught in AAS has been a wonderful aid in helping my boys recognize the true sounds in a word instead of what they hear from their language disorder, which in turn has then helped encourage them to work to learn to say the sounds correctly. Not only are my boys reading above their level and learning to spell in a way that helps them decode words they aren’t familiar with, their speech is clearer and better understood because they recognize the correct sounds and letters making that sound within a word by knowing how to segment the sounds and by knowing the phonograms. Our family loves this program and we recommend it highly! We cannot thank you enough, Mrs. Ripple, for how God has blessed our family through your programs!

JoAnne E.

says:

We love our spelling tiles here! Segmenting words has been so helpful to my first grade son. Yesterday I had him read a book he was able to read on his own in October and compare it to the books he is working through now. He was quite encouraged. AAR and AAS have helped this struggling reader.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

JoAnne,
Having children read books from months ago is a great way for them to be able to see the progress they have made! Thanks for sharing this idea.

Alison

says:

Yes! At first, she would have trouble and I would help her. Then, I started asking her to sit down and segment it out … she thought it was a punishment. I had to explain to her (several times) that this is a self-check so that she can teach herself. The first time I saw her struggle to spell and actually say “I need so sit down and segment this” I was like YYEEESSSS!!!!!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Alison,
What a moment to celebrate! Thank you for sharing it with us.

Jill Goldbach

says:

We are using Level 1 this year, and it is so much better than previous spelling programs we have used. The segmenting idea is very effective. I also love that my son doesn’t have to memorize spelling words.

Connie

says:

I just stared using this with one of my struggling kiddos. So far so good!

Marci

says:

We love AAR!!!

Cheryl

says:

This school year I switched my daughter to your program (she’s in 2nd grade) and I see a huge improvement in her spelling! Segmenting and breaking words into syllables has helped a lot.

Suzanne

says:

My son struggles with reading.. Your products help us so much! Having these tiles and techniques have been a blessing!

Heather

says:

I did this when I was a public school teacher and am now doing as a homeschool teacher. Great info!

Candice Bray

says:

When I do segmenting with students, I also first have them use tokens or blank tiles, but then I have them match the letter tiles to the blank tiles…OR write the letters below the blank tiles. This helps many students understand WHY we use the blank tiles.

Charlotte.

says:

Working our way through this excellent program.

Hélène

says:

As a child with auditory processing issues, my dd cannot do this. As a result her spelling suffers. For an almost 11yo, her spelling’s horrendous. I figured out a few yrs ago she wasn’t hearing tbe sounds but she has made little improvement. It’s extremely frustrating for her. She leaves out letters because she doesn’t hear them and has no visual spelling ability (doesn’t store words in her memory) and writes the wrong letter (or number in math) when she finally writes something because she has vision processing disorder/dyslexia also.
I can’t say she’s made no improvement in reading or even spelling since age 8 but only what a neurotypical child would make in about 6 mos IMO.
These children are wearing themselves out daily with herculean efforts to overcome their mental closures but every inch they move the closed gate is a result of weeks and weeks of applied work.
It’s really no fair and I see no light at the end of the tunnel. She will be 21 before she’s at a 12yo level in academics!! (every time I think we’ve made a breakthru, she’s just shoved the gate an inch is all) She’s so motivated to get out in life and just won’t able to. Yet emotionally she will need to…

My son had the same problem. We tried an on line program called Easy Read. It’s made a huge difference. I feel your pain. Please check out the website and try a free lesson. They have a very informative page on 8 causes of reading difficulty. It really helped me understand what was going on in my child’s mind. http://www.easyreadsystem.com/info/dyslexia.html
I want to make it clear that I receive no financial or other benefit by referring any one to this program. If you want more information just check out their site. (they even have a great guarantee)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Hélène,
This article explains what Auditory Processing Disorder is, which you obviously already know, but it also explains how All About Reading and All About Spelling can help.

My son has APD and learning all aspects of language has been a struggle for him from the beginning. However, slow and consistent work with All About Spelling made a huge difference for him with reading and spelling. It has even helped his pronunciation and syntax to some extent.

We know speech therapists and tutors who use All About Spelling with students who have Auditory Processing Disorder. The first five steps of the All About Spelling program focus on phonemic awareness and segmenting, which is extremely important for children with APD.

Depending upon the individual case, sometimes the therapist or tutor uses a program such as the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program (LiPS) to help the student recognize individual speech sounds in spoken words. Some students need this extra groundwork before beginning the All About Spelling program, while others do not.

The All About Spelling program is multisensory and uses three main pathways to the brain: sight, sound, and touch. The multisensory approach is beneficial for kids with learning differences because when one pathway is weaker, it is strengthened while still allowing learning to occur.

We would love to help you. Can you tell me what aspects or lessons are providing the most struggle to her and how she responds?

Hélène

says:

We use another O-G program and today I had her read a column of words with ei making the A sound and a column of words with eigh making the A sound. She knows both phonograms already. The columns were labelled EI and EIGH. She read sleigh and then eight and eighth. She then read weigh “weeihguhtuh”. No, daughter, you know what eigh says you just read it in tbe words above. She fiiiiinally read the word. Then she got to weight. She read weeihth. Daughter, what phonogram is in this word? That we have been doing the whole column? There is also no TH in this word. Struggle again. Read it hesistantly but correctly. And this is me being as patient as I can…she cant help it, Hélène, its not her choice, Hélène. I know I should word it better when I guiding her but this is me being human…
When her brain fries, it fries allll connections. She cant make permanent connections. You dont know when it going to fry. It may at the end of a lesson, it may be at the beginning. It might fry in one area, but suddenly shes rushing ahead in something else 3 seconds later. She smart as a whip but her brain is on crack. I dont tell her that :0
My patience is wirethin. And shes hitting puberty with all its chaos. Yay.
I also use dietary methods (cod liver oil for O3s little sugars, etc) and have done physical therapy to open and rewire her learning gates. Probably should do those some more…

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Hélène,
That sounds like her vision processing issues that you mentioned. Has she been through vision therapy? Has she gone for a re-check to make sure she’s still on track?

If your OG program has letter tiles, I would go to the letter tiles and try making the words that way. See if she does better with them when they are a little bit larger and color-coded. If she struggles with a word, have her touch each tile and say the sounds, then blend the sounds slowly as she draws her finger underneath. If she does better with the tiles, then you can try the list again.

You mentioned that she gets tired; how long are her lesson times? Kids with auditory and visual processing times ARE working very hard and really can’t help it (I love your self-talk. You’re right that she is really trying her best and working hard here!). Pay careful attention to her cues and try to stop before she gets too tired. Sometimes with an exercise like this, I found that if I tried it on another day when they were fresh, it went better. So if something was going badly, I cut that part of the lesson short. If we still had lesson time left, I finished up with something easier. Also, make sure that you are doing a reading during a good time of day (when she’s not too tired or hungry etc…)

You are doing so many good things for her. Be gracious with yourself too! Some kids do really struggle, but she’ll get there. I know it takes a lot of time and patience for both mom and daughter. Hang in there!

KIMBERLY

says:

This is such helpful information and easy to understand and apply too…thank you!

JoAnne Lewis

says:

I’ve seen great improvements with my boys and their reading since switching to AAR and AAS. Thank you.

Erin

says:

Great information!!

DPase

says:

I am seeing huge leaps in both reading and spelling with my second grader this year. For the previous two years we’ve done a workbook based phonics program that didn’t seem to translate from “identify the picture with the whatever sound the page was about” to actually reading. AAS is the first program we’ve used that emphasized learning the phonograms (and all their sounds) and segmenting. Segmenting has helped him to slow down and listen, and the syllable division rules are building right on that.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with your son. It’s wonderful to know that we have a part in him having success in reading and spelling!

I teach segmenting to my first graders. It really helps them slow down and pronounce the sounds. So many speak without sounding all the letters that they don’t learn to say the words correctly and therefore drop letters.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Pauline,
Yes! And there are some words that have had letters or even whole syllables dropped for so long that they sound odd when we say them correctly. Chocolate and different come to mind.

Kimberly D.

says:

Thank you for sharing. We can use all the help we can get. Reading is a difficult subject for both my boys!!!

Katie Hittinger

says:

All my kids love AAS. Its a subject we look forward to everyday.

Sherry

says:

I didn’t realize how important segmenting was. My daughter always says ” this is babyish!” She often misspells words when she doesn’t segment the word.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sherry,
Segmenting is very important in helping spellers hear every sound in a word and in the correct order. A child that segments a word first (even to herself) won’t confuse from and form, for example.

What part of segmenting does she find babyish? Maybe she would feel better if you explained that even adults segment a word to themselves when they need to think about how to spell it (I segment automaticity to myself every time I need to use the word).

Angel Hartman

says:

We love AAR and AAS.

Dixie

says:

In our classroom, we use our fingers to count out (segment) the sounds and then sweep them together and say the whole word again. To help with dictation after a blending activity, we segment, sweep, and, then, I say the number of sounds as well as the number of letters that are in the word. It’s such an important skill! Thanks for all of the strategies you pass on!

Elissa Hardy

says:

Segmenting was huge for my son…He has a bit of a problem hearing some sounds and this has helped him hugely. We now have completed Pre-Reading, AAR1 and AAS1. I am so thankful that we found this program, and look forward to using level 2 with my son and starting my daughter with the Pre-Reading.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Elissa,
Thank you for sharing how segmenting made such a difference for your son.

Bethany M

says:

I agree they AAS has helped ME learn how to spell, too! I’ve recommended It to so many friends. Thank you!!

This post is a good reminder because my 7-year-old is very motivated to “do spelling” and loves “taking tests”. However I don’t always take the time for her to use the letter tiles and segment on her own even with the easier words–I want to build a strong foundation.

E

says:

Looking forward to starting AAS with my kids!

Natalie

says:

I can’t wait to use this technique with my kids!

Peggy Pottenger

says:

This technique has helped my daughter so much!

Stacie

says:

We play games in the car spelling out loud three letter words. And get them to find a rhyming word. If I have them spell sad. I ask them to find a rhyming word and spell it. Sometimes using my fingers for each sound.

Myra

says:

This makes so much sense! Thanks for creating a great program!

Kacie

says:

I couldn’t find my tokens, so I grabbed a few race cars for my son to pull toward him for each sound. One of them was the kind that when you pull it back, it then launches forward upon release. Whoops! Launching sounds across the floor. Funny, but it worked.

I’m slow to catch on, so to clarify — if it exists as an individual AAS tile or individual representation on the app, it represents one sound, yes? So, “sh” is one sound, and “ough” is one sound. “Mp,” though one syllable and smushed together, is not a phonogram, so it would represent 2 tokens.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kacie,
First, I could see a LOT of fun going on with that pull motor car. I’d place it to be used with the last sound of each word, so that it would launch as each word is finished. Too fun!

You are correct. The tiles represent 1 sound, even if they have multiple letters. So, a word with 4 letters can have just two tokens, such as show (sounds /sh/ and long /o/), while other 4 letter words will have 4 sounds, such a pump (sounds /p/, /u/, /m/, /p/). Note, OUGH is tricky, as it’s /uff/ and /off/ sounds can be heard as two sounds (/u/ and /f/, for example), so we would not use it with early segmenting. In fact, we don’t even introduce OUGH until AAS 5.

I hope this clears everything up for you, but let me know if I should explain further.

Kacie

says:

Yes, that’s exactly what I did with the car — I put it toward the end :D

Thank you for clarifying for me. I don’t know why “ough” was my second example. I think that Lucy and Desi bit that has been making the rounds on the internet lately was at the back of my mind.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

I literally laughed out loud about that I Love Lucy video!

CAtherine

says:

Thanks for the good explanation– I’m curious to learn more about phonograms as well.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Catherine,
Here is our blog post on How to Teach Phonograms.

Kimberly

says:

What level would you start an older child that still struggles with sounding out words?

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kimberly,
I’m not sure if you asking for which level to start in All About Reading or in All About Spelling. However, a student that is struggling to sound out words would need the focused work on fluency and decoding that All About Reading has.

We have placement tests for All About Reading to help you decide which level would be best. Also, we recommend having your student read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want your student 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…

Your student’s ability to decode the words in the story.
Your student’s ability to comprehend the story.
Could your student fluently read the story with expression?
Did your student understand the words from a vocabulary standpoint?

If your student places into All About Reading 1, you may wish to focus mostly on the fluency sheets and letter tile exercises, as the activity sheets may seem young to an older student. However, as you move up the levels they may be more age-appropriate; you can evaluate as you go. The activities are there to provide fun review activities for those that would need and enjoy them. As we state in the Teacher’s Manual, the activity sheets aren’t necessary for older learners; however, the fluency pages in the activity book will be very helpful for a student struggling to read fluently and smoothly.

I hope this helps. Please me know if you have further questions.

Karilyn

says:

I am looking forward to start teaching both AAR snd AAS programs to my children!!!!

P

says:

I am looking for something for my 12 yr. old.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

P,
We 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 don’t recommend starting higher than level 2.

We encourage 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 your student already knows and slow down on the parts that he needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure he understands the concept being taught, and then move on. This blog article has a good example of how you might fast track.

Ashley

says:

We have loved using all about reading with our son!

Shannon

says:

My 6 year old is four lessons away from completing his first level of reading. We will begin the first level of spelling and second level of reading next school year. I am so impressed with this program and have seen great progress in my son’s reading skills.

Olga

says:

I would recommend AAS to anyone. It is a very good foundation and very easy to teach! Love it!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

What a great recommendation, Olga! Thank you.

Phyllis Cook

says:

I wish they taught this way when I was in school. Maybe I would have loved reading and writing more. Oh well, I will try to teach my son this way….. Wish me luck.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Good luck, Phyllis!

But more than luck, good materials!

Jackie

says:

I appreciate the free resources that you supply for teachers and tutors to use with their students!

Michelle

says:

Just started using AAR Level 4 with my 7yo, and she loves it! Planning on using AAR Level 1 with my 4yo and AAS Level 7 with my 9yo and 12yo. I enjoy how everything is laid out for me. We formerly used Phonics Pathways, but this program makes more sense and is FUN!

Jackie

says:

I’ve used AAS level 1 with my second grader and we’re about to finish AAS level 2 and I’d like to start my kindergartener on AAR level 1 in the fall.

Rebecca

says:

I have just started using AAR/AAS in the last few months. I like that the AAR Pre-reading level includes simple phonological awareness activities to expose kids to reading/spelling concepts like segmenting early on!

Juli Thornton

says:

Would love this for my struggling readers 10 & 7. Just don’t want to buy one more thing that doesn’t work! I have heard so many great things about AAR and I am itching to give it a try.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Juli,
I just wanted to let you know that we have an excellent one-year guarantee policy. If the program does not meet your needs, return it at any time within one year of purchase for a full refund of your purchase price.

J Wellham

says:

I am thinking about starting AAS with my 9 yr old boys. I’ve heard positive things about it. I want to make certain I give them a strong foundation for learning.

Anne

says:

This program has been great with my 6 yr old suspected dyslexic. She is doing really well!

Karyn

says:

Segmenting is so critical for dyslexic learners…so happy to see it highlighted with a video.

Heather Rodriguez

says:

I’ve been doing this and didn’t even realize it was important! Glad to know I’m on the right track!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

It sounds like you are a natural! Great work, Heather.

Marilyn Holloway

says:

Can’t wait to try this with my first grader!

Chantel

says:

Just starting this with my little one! Gonna start AAR soon!

Sonja

says:

I have struggled with spelling my whole life. All About Spelling is helping our entire family. Thank you!!

Heidi

says:

Great ideas!

Michele

says:

I have been so thankful to find AAR and AAS for my struggling reader and my beginning reader. They are actually excited to read the great stories. I am happy, because they are phonetically correct , thus my kids can pronounce with confidence.

Colleen Broach

says:

I am so excited, we just received a set, my 8 year old is not a natural speller and I am, so I am looking forward to using this program to better help us!!!

Annie Bleuer

says:

I LOVE All About Reading!

Louise

says:

Interesting. Looks great…

Louise

says:

Looking for a great spelling program…

Vanessa

says:

We love AAR!

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