All About Spelling: Reflections As We Finish Level One

I’m beginning what I think will be an ongoing look at All About Spelling – I plan to keep posting about it as we progress further through the curriculum.  *Please note: I’m an affiliate for All About Spelling, though I did purchase the curriculum on my own and this is not a compensated review.

All About Spelling Level One

I purchased All About Spelling partly based on reviews I’d read online and the samples that I viewed.  I’m not exactly sure what my homeschool style is yet, but I do know that I hate curriculum that:

  • Is cluttered, uses Microsoft Word-style clipart, and features five different fonts and six different font sizes on a page.
  • Requires the teacher to spend extensive time in preparation to teach it “their way”.
  • Is strongly tied to a one-lesson-a-day schedule.

I picked All About Spelling because it seemed to avoid all three of those, and so far, it’s met my expectations.

  •  Curriculum Layout & Design

Maybe I shouldn’t care so much about what a curriculum looks like.  We’re supposed to be teaching spelling/reading here, not graphic design, right?  But, I think that a clean, simple interface is conducive to keeping a student and parent focused on the content instead of the fluff around the page.

All About Spelling is laid out in a very clean manner and is modern-looking.  I’ve never once been annoyed at their poor formatting or inconsistent styling.

  • Teacher Preparation Time

I find it easy to simply open the All About Spelling book, read through it once (usually a 1-2 minute process), and then teach.  Obviously, we are dealing with simple first grade phonics so it shouldn’t be too complicated anyway, but I know that the other phonics programs I looked at did manage to overload the teacher with tons to read and no clear direction as to where to start or what to do.

All About Spelling gives step-by-step instructions that can basically be read as a script.  I find this to be very easy to follow without making me feel like it’s holding my hand.

Here’s an example:

Set the tokens aside and put the following letter tiles in a row in front of your student: a, r, t.

(picture of tiles set out)

“Today you will spell a word using the tiles.”

“I will say a word and you will repeat it slowly, one sound at a time, like you did with the tokens.  Instead of pulling down a token for each sound, you will choose the correct letter tile and pull it down.”

The instructions are brief and clear enough that you can read them to the student without them feeling like you are giving them a half-hour lecture.

  • Lesson Schedule

One of the things that I love about All About Spelling is that I feel no pressure to complete a certain number of lessons each week.  It seems that some curriculums say “OK, these are the things that we need to teach in first grade.  There are 180 days of school in the year, so let’s average out all of this stuff so we can sell this curriculum as a full year of lessons.”

Yes, you can do more than one lesson a day, but it really seems like that gets tedious when half the lesson is review.  One of the reasons I’m homeschooling is so that my kids can learn at their own pace, be that faster or slower or with more or less review than a curriculum dictates.

All About Spelling Level One has 24 steps, in which each step is a chapter each.  Each step or chapter basically focuses on one phonics rule.  There really is no indication as to what pace you are supposed to go; the curriculum encourages you to move as quickly or slowly as it takes, simply making sure the student has mastered each step before moving on.

Some weeks, we go through one step; other weeks, it’s two or three.  We completed Level One in about six months with my first grader (and probably could have gone faster if I wasn’t pregnant and tired!).

Spelling or reading?

I’ve not been homeschooling for long enough to know the nuances of what makes something spelling curriculum or reading curriculum.  Though it’s not technically marketed as such, we are using All About Spelling as our reading program and it seems to be working quite well.

I suppose that if I was only teaching how to read and not how to spell, we could move a little faster and my first grader would be reading more advanced words.  However, reading and spelling really go hand-in-hand and I think I might feel as if we were backtracking if we jumped way ahead in reading words that the student had no idea how to spell.

I do have to remind myself not to compare what we’re doing to what others are doing.  We just began to learn what causes a vowel to make its long sound at the end of Level One, something I know most reading curriculums teach much faster.  But, my student can correctly spell every word he can read, and can explain why it’s spelled that way, something that I don’t think is as common with other programs.

Three types of learning

All About Spelling does a pretty good job of equally incorporating auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning.  I love that it’s not tied into one method; some days, we only use the auditory exercises, other days, it’s only the visual or kinesthetic. And some days, we use all three.

The variety of exercises (letter tiles, tokens, flashcards, verbal exercises, and writing) help keep the student engaged even when reviewing the same concept over and over, and it also allows me to give the student a choice in how we do the day’s lesson.  My first grader loves to write some days and some days he hates it, so often I’ll let him choose if he wants to spell with letter tiles or spell on paper.

Things we used to supplement

All About Spelling has no workbook or worksheets included.  I found it helpful, especially at the beginning, to simply make my own worksheets where the student fills in the beginning or ending sound of the word for an object, for example.  Though it would be nice if it included some worksheets, I enjoyed making my own based on what the student needed to review and I already admitted I think a lot of clipart is cheesy so I’ll probably continue making my own even if they added some sort of worksheets.

All About Spelling is not technically a reading program, so it also has no reader included.  However, they have recently come out with All About Reading, which has a workbook and reader.  We went through All About Spelling Level One without a reader, and just supplemented with the Bob Books (Set 1) and, I admit it, we printed out the sample PDF for the All About Reading Level One reader.

We ordered the All About Reading Level 2 reader to go through as we enter All About Spelling Level Two (the spelling book indicates which chapters in the readers correspond with the lesson), and if I didn’t try to go through Spelling Level One relatively quickly, I think we’d have ordered a Level One reader, too, since most other easy readers have a lot of sight words and All About Spelling has no sight words (at least not in Level One).

An ongoing journey with All About Spelling

We’ll be continuing to use All About Spelling as our primary reading/spelling program for the forseeable future.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

You can click here to visit the All About Learning website to find out more about All About Spelling and All About Reading.