Spellwell

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Sweets

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, April 24, 2007
  • Grades Used: 3rd and 4th
  • Dates used: 2006-2007
I also wanted to add my review of this Spelling curriculum. I bought the books based on the review at this site, plus I got a great deal from a curriculum fair. But honestly, when I finally looked through them, I did not like it all that much. The worksheets seemed brief and very easy. I did like that there were only about 10 words to learn each week. Spelling was such a problem for my two boys and I had tried different approaches and nothing was working.

So, I tried it when we started school (mainly because I didn't want to waste money!) and to my surprise my boys liked it very much and there was no battle to do spelling anymore. As usual, we modified it a bit to use in our schooling:

On Mondays, we go over the words on the list and they write them on their board. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, they choose again write the words on the board and then choose a worksheet. On Friday, we have a practice test. If they only miss 2 words, they don't have to repeat the test on Saturday morning. There has only been 1 time that they have had to do a test on Saturday morning. (Since we are involved in a few activities during the week, we do some work on Saturday mornings if we need to catch up on work.)

I think what works for them is that the list is not overwhelming. They are fine with 10 words. The worksheets are short. Spelling ususally ends their school day, so they know that it is not a long, boring lesson involved. They really like the "outlaw words" also. They like to know how these words don't follow the spelling laws! Even in their reading lessons, they will now stop and say, Hey, that's an outlaw word (like the word busy, for example).

My kids can surprise me in they way they can respond to something! Sometimes I am convinced they will love something and then they hate it. Bob Books and Phonics Pathways are two examples of what I thought they would love and they hated them! Recently, we read Romeo and Juliet and I thought they would moan and groan but they loved it (especially the fact that everyone dies in Shakespeare!). And with Spellwell, where I thought the curriculum was not very good, it has turned out to be a great fit for my two boys. They both have different learning styles. One is a talker and will write his words and make up stories about the list. One is more a doer, just get his work done, so he can be off to his other favorite things. He hates to sit and listen to a lesson, so the short lessons are perfect for him too.

I hope this has helped someone who was struggling to find a good spelling curriculum. We tried Spectrum, Calvert, Bob Jones, and then just gave up. You might give this a try if your students struggle in spelling and are not natural spellers. But if your child is a very good speller, this program might not be challenging enough.

Denise

  • Reviewed on Sunday, May 11, 2003
  • Grades Used: 2-5
  • Dates used: 2002/03 School Year
I really DO like Spellwell a lot. I am not sure why no one talks about it?? My daughter and son (fifth and third grades), both have improved their spelling by leaps and bounds with this curriculum. They also love spelling now! I don't have to coax or remind either one of them to do their work. The actual examples I will give are from the fifth grade edition of Spellwell.

Spellwell has so many features I wanted in a spelling program, all rolled into one. I guess I will just list them here for you.....

#1 - There is a pretest each week of that week's spelling words. If the children miss one or none, they do not have to do a bunch of pages of busy work for words they already know how to spell. All you do, is look at the bottom of the page and they have the alternate words for you to use. They tell you exactly where to write them, etc. Then, each day your dc does the alternative homework listed at the bottom of each page. You also have the option to just go on to the next week's lesson.

If the child does miss words, they fix the word they wrote by crossing out letters that are wrong and replacing them with correct letters. Then, they rewrite the word correctly in the corrections column. I have them do this with a colored pen or pencil.

#2 - Spelling words are given in patterns each week.

#3 - Each week, there is a grey box with outlaw words (words that don't follow the spelling rules). There are lessons specifically targeted for these words.

#4 - Each week, there is a place at the bottom of the page for classroom words. This is where you put words the children have missed in their writing projects or words you want them to learn from some other subject area (often one and the same, I have found). I have a folder that I keep copies (stapled together) of each child's weekly spelling lists. This way, I have a handy reference when it's time for
either their pretest or their final test. Anyway, behind these papers, on the inside of the folder, I keep a running list for each child of the words they miss in their writing. When I use them for their classroom words, I just check them off the list.

#5 - The lessons are varied, fun, and really draw the kids into studying the makeup and spelling patterns of the words.....without them even realizing it. There are also lessons for their classroom words. Here are
a few examples of those....

Write your classroom words on the lines below and circle each letter e in red.

Write your classroom words; then circle in color any little words in them.

Write your classroom words on the pyramid below, beginning with the smallest.

Write your classroom words in capital letters on the lines below.

#6 - Spelling rules are also emphasized in grey boxes, where the student fills in a portion of the rule, based on his/her study of the spelling words above. Then there are lessons that follow, to help them
practice and learn the rule.

#7 - Syllables in the words are also given attention in the lessons, as are the definitions of the words. Here is one example....Find the spelling word that fits the meaning; then write it in syllables in the boxes. (boxes with one square per letter and the syllables are grouped together and separated).

#8 - Editing is also used. The children have to find the word in each sentence that is improperly used or spelled and cross it out. Then they choose a spelling word that better fits the sentence and write it on
the line after the sentence.

#9 - Analogies are incorporated into some lessons and the answers are all spelling words. For instance, one sentence in a lesson using analogies, says, Luxury is to necessity as optional is to..... (required).
Or...repairing is to mending as changing is to...... (revising).

#10 - Simple grammar review is included. An example would be, a lesson having the child list all his/her noun spelling words in the noun column, all the verbs in the verb column, etc.

#11 - Rhyming is used to reinforce spelling. The pattern(s) of that week are used in the lesson. After the child comes up with his/her rhyming words in each column(under given words to rhyme with), sometimes
they are guided into writing a little poem using the rhyming words.

#12 - Some lessons have a crossword or a page with lexigrams. The lexigrams have two words filled in and the student has to find the spelling word that will complete the puzzle. In one of these lessons, the
horizontal words were synonyms for the spelling word and the vertical words were antonyms. This is explained to the student right in the directions, as well as what an antonym and what a synonym actually
is. At the bottom of this page, the child is instructed to write the spelling words that were not used on that page.

#13 - Reading comprehension is included every now and then as well. One lesson has them read a very interesting, short paragraph about a cassowary bird. In the paragraph, are boldfaced words (follow the
spelling patterns of that week). The words are spelled in reverse order and the student is instructed to write the letters in correct order above them. Then they read the story and answer Do you remember the facts? questions. At the bottom of this page, the student is instructed to Write their Spellwell words that have six letters.

#14 - Echoing lessons are very helpful. For example, one sentence says, When is it fun to clean out the garage(garage is the spelling word)? Then my daughter wrote an echo sentence. She wrote, It is
fun to clean out the garage when a friend is helping me. There are eleven of these sentences on that particular page/lesson.

#15 - Alphabetical order is also practiced with the spelling words for that week.

#16 - A couple secret decoder lessons are included. When the child figures out all the words, he/she is told to circle all the spelling words and write them on the lines at the bottom of the page.

#17 - Short writing projects are sprinkled throughout to give the student practice with their words in the actual writing of sentences, a paragraph, poem, news article, etc. These are very do-able and not
tedious at all, but very helpful to the kids.

#18 - There are four lessons and then on the fifth day, you give your dc their spelling test in their spelling notebook. They can check their own test, if you would like them to. This seems to reinforce the
missed words for next time. I carry any missed words over to their classroom words list for the following week. Then, at the back of the kids' workbook, is a progress chart where they graph their spelling test scores according to the number they got correct (simple dot and lines graph).

#19 - The entire word list for that book is also listed alphabetically, on one page in the back of the book.

#20 - There are two workbooks for each year, so the kids get to start a new book halfway through the year. They love that.

#21 - Teacher's answer key is really helpful and easy to use for busy moms. Once in awhile it will list a little hint or something to help you out with the lessons. Usually though, this is unnecessary because the
lessons are explained so well right in the workbook.

WHEW!!!!!! What else can I say? ª_ª This program is sure working wonders in our family. I also wanted to add that my son and daughter have oposite learning styles and personalities and Spellwell is working very well for BOTH of them. They are in third and fifth grade.

Oh, by the way, the author (Nancy Hall) is also the author of the popular Explode the Code series.

I only have ONE complaint about Spellwell, well.......two, I guess. It would be awesome if it was also Christian-based. However, I have not found anything offensive in the books. And the other one is that it only goes to fifth grade. I have no clue what I'm going to use with our daughter next year in sixth grade.

I hope this program blesses someone else as much as it has us.

Blessings,
Denise