Friday, April 27, 2012

Homeschool Review: My Catholic Speller, Level A

My Catholic Speller, Level A, is a part of the program provided by Catholic Heritage Curricula. It is the recommended book for second grade.

I was interested in a spelling program for First Son because he would refuse to spell anything on his own. If I suggested he sound out a word or just do the best he could, he would literally collapse into tears. (Is that too embarrassing for me to admit on the blog about a first grade-aged boy?) I was frustrated at his lack of confidence more than his lack of spelling skills and I thought a simple spelling book would help address his needs.

I seriously considered All About Spelling and Sequential Spelling but they both looked rather teacher-intensive. I was looking for something we could add that wouldn't increase my burden very much since spelling seemed like an "extra" for second grade (nice but not necessary). I ended up selecting the CHC book because I thought the inclusion of religious themes might increase First Son's interest. He was anxious for a spelling book of his own and was excited to start it. For a few weeks at the beginning of the year, spelling was his favorite subject.

Each lesson presents 15 spelling words, mainly grouped around a spelling theme (like "ways to make long /a/"). There's relatively little instruction included in the lesson. Some lessons have a brief paragraph about the words. My son loved completing the two pages of exercises which usually included matching spelling words with pictures or writing the words that followed a particular rule. I liked how the exercises all required writing the word. I also liked how Catholic words were included here and there, like "penance" and "Mass." There are 34 lessons in the book which includes review lessons on a regular basis. An answer key is included the back, but usually it was easier to read the lesson and answer it myself than to flip to the end and check his work. (First Son did discover the answers at the back, but didn't ever try to copy them instead of answering on his own.)

The instructions at the beginning of the book gave a recommended weekly schedule. I opted for spelling four days a week. One the first day, we'd read through the words and complete the exercises in the book. On the second day, First Son would copy all the words for the week onto his handwriting paper. One the third day, we'd have a quiz for the words and then he'd write the ones he missed in a sentence. On the fourth day, we'd have another quiz and he'd write the ones he missed five times. Then I'd add any missed words to next week's lesson. Some weeks he did very well, but he often missed words and then would miss them again on the review weeks. The boy still cannot seem to spell "because."

Overall, I think this method of spelling instruction (lists and quizzes) did not work for First Son. He hated the quizzes because he knew he'd have to write the words if he missed them. He also didn't seem to learn the words very well. I found that the quiz and test two days a week meant I was spending more time than I had hoped on spelling anyway, which fewer results than with another program. We made it through 27 of the lessons before I decided to just set it aside for the year.

Next year, we'll be giving Sequential Spelling 1 a try. In general, I think I would prefer something that provided spelling rules, but now that I've read Uncovering the Logic of English, I'll be able to provide those myself as we go along in a conversational way. If I can, I'll follow Ms. Eide's advice and see if First Son can discover some of them himself as we go along.

I did not receive anything from CHC for this objective review. I am not an affiliate and will not receive anything if you follow the link to CHC and make an order. I am an affiliate with Amazon and do receive a small commission if you follow a link there and make a purchase.


  1. Have you looked at VocabularySpellingCity? They are free to use (they do offer a premium membership), and they include Sequential Spelling. The kids play, review, and test on spelling words and practice vocabulary and handwriting. It's a neat site. Son 1 might really like it.

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  2. After seeing your review of Uncovering the Logic of English, I realized that Denise Eide was one of the speakers at our homeschool convention! So I went to two of her workshops, and decided to change our spelling program for next year too, and add some work with roots/prefixes/suffixes. (She has her own curriculum, but it was not something I could see myself implementing, and it was also expensive.)

    Anyway, I've been looking at spelling options that would teach spelling rules and review phonemes, and looked at All About Spelling and the "How to Spell" series. I had not seen "How to Spell" before, and it looks very straightforward and is primarily directed at the student for independent work. The manual is called "How to Teach Spelling." There's not a lot of information on it online, but Rainbow Resource has a few sample pages that give a bit of an idea. As of now, that's what I think we're going to try next year.

  3. Jackie P, thanks for the tip. I had heard of SpellingCity, though I haven't checked it out. I didn't know they included Sequential Spelling.

    Hilary, I actually have Eide's curriculum (which I bought at a discount) and am going to implement it in a modified way with First Son. I'll be using some of her stuff with First Daughter, too, though I haven't got any of that worked out yet.

    Sequential Spelling doesn't include spelling rules, but I think it will be easy enough to introduce them from Eide's book as we hit the appropriate word families.

    You'll have to let me know what you think of "How to Spell."


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