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What’s the Difference Between AAR & AAS?

One of our most frequently asked questions is “Do I need both All About Reading and All About Spelling? Can I choose just one of these programs to teach both subjects?”

That’s a great question! Read on to find out how the two programs are similar and how they are different, and then download sample lessons to help you decide.

How the Two Programs are Similar

This graphic shows the ways that All About Reading and All About Spelling are alike. The two programs complement each other in many ways, and the skills learned in one program are reinforced in the other program.

similarities between aar and aas

Additionally both programs are presented with our signature step-by-step lesson plans, making reading and spelling easy for you to teach.

How the Two Programs Are Different

We intentionally split reading and spelling into two programs because they each have their own ideal teaching sequence and teaching methods. In order to help your child master each subject, we teach them independently from each other. And by teaching reading and spelling separately, you can progress at your student’s pace until both skills are mastered. Students can move as quickly or as slowly as they need to with each skill.

There are significant differences in the skills that are taught in All About Reading and All About Spelling. Take a look at the graphic below to see those differences.

differences between aar and aas

An important distinction is that All About Reading teaches decoding with the end goal of comprehension, while All About Spelling teaches encoding with the goal of writing thoughts on paper.

Take a Look Inside Two Actual Lessons

Let’s take a look at the lessons that teach the letter combination KN (which says /n/ as in knight).

All About Reading sample

All About Reading Level 3, Lessons 45 and 46

In these reading lessons, students will learn to decode words containing phonogram KN, such as knight, knock, and knot. The lessons guide you in presenting vocabulary, comprehension skills, and fluency practice, all while completing interesting activities like “Mush” and “Who’s in the Castle?” The lessons are reinforced with the engaging short story “Cedric the Brave Knight.”

All About Spelling Sample

All About Spelling Level 4, Step 13

Now let’s look at how KN is taught from the spelling perspective. In this lesson, students learn how to spell words such as know, knee, knot, and knife. They learn that KN is only used at the beginning of a base word, and they learn common homophone pairs such as knight and night. Students write sentences from dictation and compose original sentences using the Writing Station prompts.

As you can see from the lessons, there’s a big difference in the approach to reading and spelling, even though they share the same phonetic code.

Do you have any other questions about the differences between AAR and AAS?

what's the difference between AAR/AAS pinterest image

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Andrea D

says:

So helpful to learn this. They obviously need both, but it can be so good to have them working at terror own pace on each!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you found this helpful, Andrea! Yes, it is so good to allow students to work in reading and spelling at their pace in each so they can make the best progress possible. 😊

Amy

says:

I already have all about spelling 1&2 That I used for my older children,and would like to start my kindergarten son On all about reading level one. Can I use the same letter tiles I already have with my all about spelling and buy the rest?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Yes. The Basic Interactive Kits for reading and spelling are almost identical (these have the letter tiles, magnets, Phonogram Sounds download and divider cards). So, if you already have the spelling kit, you would only need one or two components from the Reading Interactive Kit:

Reading Divider Cards (These are different than the Spelling Divider Cards and you’ll need these to organize the reading review cards.)
Optional: Reading Review Box (You could use a card box you find locally instead.)

Let me know if you need anything else.

Jerri Lynn Alomar

says:

We have used both progams successfully and love them.

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s wonderful, Jerri! Congratulations to you and your kids on their success!

Judi O

says:

I love that reading and spelling are separate! We can take our time with spelling (avoid some tears) and still move happily through AAR.

Kate

says:

We really love both programs, but I’m having trouble fitting spelling in. We are midway through AAR 2 and AAS 1. My son’s reading is really flying right now so I don’t want to slow that down by alternating days, but it seems like after 20 minutes of reading lesson his brain is tired and there’s no way he could work with more letters. He is 6, and works well above grade level in other subjects. Any ideas? Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You have a couple options to make this work, Kate.

One, you could opt to hold off from spelling for a while yet. 6-years-old is still pretty young and it would be fine to let spelling sit until next year. You don’t want to wait too long, so that bad spelling habits don’t get established, but you can wait a while.

Another option would be to do shorter spelling lessons each day. Instead of 20 minutes every other day, try just 10 minutes daily. Or, on days he is especially tired, even 5 minutes of review would be beneficial. This blog post discusses how one mom did both reading and spelling in one 35 minute block, Real Moms, Real Kids: Teaching Active Children.

Personally, I liked to separate reading and spelling lessons with something that was completely different like music practice, a recess, or me reading aloud for 20 or 30 minutes while my child played with Lego, colored, folded washcloths, or did some other hands-on thing while listening. I found this renewed my child’s focus for letters, although I still kept spelling to around just 10 minutes a day in the early years.

I hope this helps, but let me know how it goes.

Angie

says:

We work with children and youth diagnosed with developmental conditions such as autism and find both of these programs very beneficial. It breaks it down so that the individual can learn it. We have seen success with each kid we use it with. Great programs, we love them.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

This is so wonderful to hear, Angie! I love that All About Reading or All About Spelling have been successful with each child you have used them with. I’m going to be passing this along to the entire AALP team! Thank you.

Emily F.

says:

Are there any guidelines or lesson plans on how to combine AAR and AAS? For example, I am using level one of both this year. I’m unsure how to fit them together.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Emily,
We typically recommend waiting until a child finishes All About Reading 1 before beginning All About Spelling 1. Spelling is more difficult than reading, so waiting until your child is well begun in reading helps them to have the best start in spelling. Our blog post The Right Time to Start Spelling Instruction explains this further.

The programs are independent of each other so students can move as quickly or as slowly as they need to with each skill. Kids generally move ahead more quickly in reading, and we don’t want to hold them back with the spelling. We recommend working for 20 minutes a day on reading and, once your child is ready to start All About Spelling, 15 to 20 minutes a day on spelling.

Please let me know if you have questions or need more information.

Becky Porter

says:

Do I need to purchase both the Spelling Interactive and Reading Interactive kits? What are the differences in these kits?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Becky,
The Basic Interactive Kits for reading and spelling are almost identical. These have the letter tiles, magnets, Phonogram Sounds download, and the divider cards. So, if you already have a reading kit, you would only need one or two components from the Spelling Interactive Kit–scroll down to the individual products and choose the ones you need or want:

Spelling Divider Cards (you’ll need these to organize the spelling review cards)
Optional: Spelling Review Box (or use a card box you find locally)

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Rachel Zillmann

says:

Which one would I start with. I have a 7yrold and he’s still reading three letter words. Would I start him in AAR or AAS or wait with AAS?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
You will begin with All About Reading. Use our placement tests to help you determine which level your child needs to start with.

If he is ready to start with level 2 of All About Reading or higher, then he is also ready to begin All About Spelling level 1. However, if he needs to begin with All About Reading level 1, wait until he completes that level before beginning All About Spelling level 1.

Does this help? Let me know if you need further information or have other questions.

Lyndal

says:

I love the look of your program for our homeschool but I am unsure if there are any issues with phonics differences between American and Australian English pronunciation? I expect they would be minimal but I have seen where other programs have mentioned this.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great question, Lyndal.

You are correct, there are only a few differences that need to be addressed and those aren’t difficult. Even within the US, parents find it helpful to make little changes to fit their regional pronunciations as well; the programs allow for this easily.

The biggest change will be to the A phonogram. You’ll need to change it to reflect the 5 sounds of A in Australia instead of the 3 in the US: short a (bat), long a (baby), ah (bath), aw (water), o (swan). Other changes will be smaller and easier, such as changing mom to mum, math to maths, and as you move into higher levels, teach the spelling of words like center (centre). Some words that All About Reading and All About Spelling teach as rule-breakers, such as what and pretty, you wouldn’t need to teach that way.

We have an Australian distributor for our products, The Educational Warehouse. They may be able to give you better pricing and help you with needed changes. Here is a blog post from an Australian mom that has used all seven levels of All About Spelling.

Please let me know if you need more information or have other questions.

Roberta Galatsatos

says:

This was a helpful article! I’ve used AAS Levels 1 & 2, and can now see how using AAR as well would be extra beneficial for specific skills in reading. Encoding & decoding hand in hand makes perfect sense! Such a great program and very user-friendy lessons. I definitely recommend AAR & AAS to anyone looking for a curriculum for teaching spelling and reading skills.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you so much for recommending All About Reading and All About Spelling, Roberta.

Alex P.

says:

Thank you for the helpful info!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Alex!

Cindy P.

says:

Also, AAR team, I’m curious as to your recommendations for curriculum beyond AAR, level 4.

Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Cindy,
Check out our blog post What Happens after All About Reading?. When students finish level 4, they have finished learning to read and now are ready to read to learn. The blog post has a few curriculum ideas but there are many others and no curriculum at all but just reading, reading, reading is an excellent option too.

Let me know if you have questions.

Cindy P.

says:

The upcoming school year will mark our fourth year using AAR and our third year using AAS. We absolutely love it!

Elizabeth Tyson

says:

This was super helpful toward me determining what would best meet the need of my advancing preschooler!

Kimber

says:

Starting AAR with my second child soon!

Laci

says:

This is so helpful!

Dawn

says:

We used AAR level 1 this year and started AAS level 1 with 4 weeks left in the reading program. The kids did excellent in the spelling because they were so prepared with the reading.

Vanessa

says:

Interesting information.

Jessie

says:

I love using AAR and AAS together. I feel like it has made my daughter a better reader and speller. They flow together so well reinforceing and building on the skills of the other program. I only us AAS for my son who was already a stronger reader before we discovered All About Learning, and I feel like my daughter is mastering the spelling skills faster then he is since she is using the reading program and learning the skills together.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Jessie. I love that All About Reading and All About Spelling are working so well together for your daughter.

Samantha

says:

Very helpful info! Thanks so much for sharing all this!!

Jamie

says:

We are looking forward to using both of these programs!

Allison

says:

This was so helpful! Seeing how decoding and encoding can work together!

Cindy

says:

This is so helpful! Thank you.

Dorothy

says:

I’ve been wondering how these programs worked.

Avigail

says:

My kids are in the middle of all about reading level 1 and when we finish I will definitely be starting the spelling program. Currently my kids forget the vowels whenever they try to write on their own.

Rachel Kleeman

says:

Thabk you so much for this curriculum! We love using both the reading and spelling!

Beth Johnson

says:

Thank you! This is great!

Mary Hickman

says:

Desperate for help for my 16 year old. He excels in everything but spelling in which he suffers greatly. Praying THIS is the one that makes a connection.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
Have you seen our blog post on Using All About Spelling with Older Students? Also, take a look at Real Moms, Real Kids: A Typical Day with AAS that details a mom working with her 15-year-old. These should help you.

Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions along the way.

Lynette

says:

This is great, love All About Reading!

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