Most of us homeschoolers who have beeen around long have heard of Excellence in Writing but did you know they now have a spelling program as well. I was sent Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Phonetic Zoo Spelling program.
The Start set included:
• 5 audio CDs (Level C has 6 CDs)
• Spelling and the Brain and Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo DVD with the following:
– Spelling and the Brain video seminar
– Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo video
– The Phonetic Zoo teacher’s notes PDF file
• Lesson Cards with all three levels of spelling words and jingles
• Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
• Zoo Cards, which serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
It starts with a dvd for the teaching parent to watch. It has some wonderful information on how children learn to spell. The Spelling and the Brain video seminar has Andrew Pudewa himself, the director of IEW. He gives some interesting facts about the process and why some spelling programs work better than others. Andrew also does an introduction to the program, Phonetic Zoo. I love how the video shows his own daughter working through the first lesson, it really gives you a feel for the program and how it works (hands on), it is so easy to read about something and not get the exact idea until your in the middle of your schooling but this video shows you EXACTLY what you can expect. Many of you know Andrew Pudewa is a great speaker so he keeps your attention the whole time, he is truly a gifted educator.
I loved the idea that Andrew says to use headphones, this is something I have started in my homeschool this year for many different things and I even invested in a nice pair the beginning of the schoolyear. It really helps the student concentrate, they can just look at what they have to accomplish and not be distracted by their siblings, the pets, the doorbell (you know ALL the interruptions of a homeschooler’s day) It cuts out all the distractions and involves the child more. The lessons are about 10 minutes. The speaker gives a short lesson and then lists the spelling words. The student reviews the rule that they are learning and then they listen to the spelling list one word at a time and then the speaker lists the words again for your child to correct. They should retake the same lesson every day until they can get 100% two days in a row. You do not move on until then. My son was a little frustrated by that part, this was very new to him with spelling, he usually corrects as he goes but I could see the fruit of it as we went. My oldest son (6th grade) is pretty good at spelling so he didn’t have to take the lesson too many times, this would depend on your child’s ability but I do believe that if you did this program consistently, your child would improve in an amazing way in spelling if it is a weakness. I love the idea that they believe spelling should be taught sequential, we have done that here in our homeschool and found it is very successful! Many with special need children love this as well.
As a child masters each lesson, they earn a collector card (spelling zoo cards). Andrew suggests placing them on your child’s wall to serve as a reminder of the rules they have learned. For some kids this is going to be a great trophy wall, to see all they did, for some it may not do as much for, probably goes back to the love language thing. I love the idea that they can see their accomplishments and have something to be proud of.
You can go to the site and have your child take a placement test, this is really helpful in knowing where to start. I am very excited about starting Excellence in Writing next year and you can find out all about that there too!
You can read what other crew members have to say HERE.