Wednesday, June 29, 2016

All About Spelling

Why did I start this blog?  Two reasons, one was to document my family and our adventures.  Second, because I am one of those people that just can't stop blabbing about a product that I love.  If I ran into you and I knew you were a homeschooler for instance, you would hear about two things - Mother Goose Time and All About Learning Press and their two series, All About Reading and All About Spelling.

I discovered Mother Goose Time 3 years ago and haven't stopped blabbing.  But I just recently discovered All About Spelling, so let the blabbing begin!!!!

Lachlan, my oldest, is just finishing up first grade as part of a homechool charter school.  We have an educational guide that we get to meet with every two weeks and at one of our meetings we were talking about Lachlan's reading and where we were getting a bit stumped.  She asked me, "what about spelling?"  She thought and I agreed that spelling might fill in the gaps.  I for some reason, did not even think of that!  Probably because I really did not want to add another subject to our routine.  But we did, and I am so thankful.
It arrived and I started working through the set up.  I have to say, many curricula overwhelm me.  From the moment the giant Teacher Guide arrives (Saxon Math, oh my!) I shut down.  Even the Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons made me shut down.  There are just too many pages!!! Finally, with each of those examples I opened the book, started reading, and hey, it wasn't so bad.  But when All About Spelling arrived I sighed, Ah, now that's better.  The guides are thin (phew) and cute (I like that) and broken down into easily to digest sections.  And this all matters because the teacher has to be motivated to teach.
First we set up the letter tiles as magnets and stuck them to our white board. Then I jumped into Step 1 and started putting the rest of the items together as I went.
Here I had the white board out in the backyard in a camp chair with all our other homeschool lessons for the day. 

Each level that they progress through is literally called a step.  Step 1 was all about the first 26 phonograms.  I got out the phonogram cards, held them up and asked them to make the sound that each of the letters make.  If they knew them, they were considered "mastered" and they got to color in the hexagon on the phonogram sheet and put the phonogram card in the mastered file.  They already had many of the consonants mastered, but had some more work to do on the vowels.  Some of that is because All About Learning Press (AALP) teaches more sounds for each letter than I was even aware of.  Like 4 sounds for O.  I don't know how to type in all the symbols or I would type them in here.  But I will show you a picture of the back of the card so you can see how easy they make it for you.  That and they have a free app you can download that gives you the correct sounds, if you are ever not sure. 

Step 2 teaches segmenting, which is just brilliant.  The best way to show you is in a quick video.
As I was revisiting Step 2 in order to make this video, I was reminded that even step 2 was broken into easy to digest parts that we did not move on from until they were mastered.  First we practiced recognizing the first sound of a word and repeating the sound, not the name of the letter.  Then we practiced listening for the last sound in a word.  It was only after those two skills were well practiced and easy for the boys that we moved onto segmenting words with two sounds and then onto words like this with three sounds. 

Step 3 has you start working with the letter tiles and putting them in alphabetical order.
Here we are outside at the picnic table, one doing that Saxon math I was mentioning and one putting the tiles in alphabetic order.

The first 3 steps can be worked on at the same time and a little part of each of the steps are incorporated into your daily routine as you start working through steps 4 through 24.
The routine and rhythm of each day is really what was great for my boys.  The phonograms that were not mastered when we initially went through them were put behind the review divider.  Out of those letters I would pick 4 to work on daily until they were mastered.  Only 4 at a time is an easy to swallow daily lesson.  Once mastered they got to color in that phonograms hexagon and file the card behind the mastered divider.
This is the little recipe box that I got for our cards.  It has both the reading and spelling cards in it.  Super easy to keep the cards organized. 
For my boys there have been two big motivators that are part of this program.  The first is the word "mastered".  They love that word!!! I tell them the goal is to master a phonogram and boom, practice, practice, practice, with out complaint.

Then, to top it off, once it's mastered, they get to color in that hexagon on the progress chart!  I had no idea that a progress chart would be so motivating.  Not only that but it's very visual.  It makes it clear what the goal is that we are working towards and how close they are to accomplishing that goal.
These are all three of our progress charts hanging on the wall.
These first 3 steps were really the foundation that the rest of the lessons are built upon.  This has gotten us to where we are today with spelling words with tiles and spelling words on paper.

In this photo I said the word "bug" and Lachlan segmented it in his head and pulled down the letters that make those sounds to spell the word.  
 I had Peter on the other side of the table and thought I would have him try to write a few of the words on paper.  But he was causing a bit of trouble by tapping the water bottle with the paint brush.  Eventually he wrote three of the spelling words.
Lachlan loves to be creative, like his Mommy, and came up with this photo idea.  So I helped him line up the letters in his hands and snapped a picture. 
 Believe it or not, he is thrilled with his idea. 
At this point Lachlan wanted to be done but there was a few more words to spell.  The next word was the word "sun" so I jested, "don't you want to hold the sun in your hands!"  He was game. 
 This time I got a smile out of him.
Anything that brother does, Adam has to do.  So Lachlan helped him hold a tile in his hand for a picture. 
Adam always likes to get involved.  One time he was adamant that he held the flash cards.
When we started All About Spelling the hope was that it would help with his reading development and it has.  He has been able to sound out more challenging words because he has a deeper understanding of phonograms.  He even spent some time reading our children's dictionary and felt quite accomplished by the fact that he could figure out some big words.  When it comes to reading, confidence is key!
Of course teaching spelling also helps with spelling. :)  Lachlan has really enjoyed writing notes and is getting more and more accurate with his writing.  Here he is writing his end of the year writing example.  He wrote "I HElP Mi Mom" and drew a picture of himself helping me pick things up.  My back was out and I was having him help with a lot of the bending. 
I wrote the team at All About Learning Press with one of my last posts where their curriculum popped up.  I kept blabbing to them about how much I love their curriculum and they told me about an affiliate program.  The links in this post are affiliate links.  If you purchase through the links it will help my family get more of their great stuff!  But everything in this post is authentic, I was writing it before I even knew there was an affiliate program.

Next up, All About Reading . . .

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