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Friday, September 3, 2010

Spelling City

We were fortunate enough to be able to review a website designed to improve your child's spelling. For the purpose of this review I received a free trial membership at the premium level to the Spelling City website. I received no other compensation.

Spelling has never really been an issue for James. He reads extensively, and for the most part, spells well. We use a spelling curriculum that is rule based and therefore the words are fairly simple. When we first logged onto the site, I created a list with his current spelling words. The site then directed James to choose between three options: a test, word practice, or games. I am sure it is no surprise that James decided to play some games.

The games were basic with cute graphics. The player is represented by a little mouse who is trying to secure a cheese snack or escape the claws of a pesky cat. Some of the games can be printed and some are for online play only. A hangman type game, word search, matching, and a letter collection game are a few examples of the games your student can choose.

Some of the activities on the site allow the student to choose a level of difficulty. There is a separate section designed specifically for the younger student that includes pre-kindergarten and kindergarten games. In addition to the games, the website also offer word meaning learning, writing practice, and traditional spelling reinforcement activities.

Many of the sites features are free to use. By obtaining a Premium Membership
(which is what I was offered for this review), you receive some important extras that make the site more worthwhile for your homeschool. Premium membership offers automated test grading and record-keeping, extra online games, secure personal homepage, and telephone support. Think of how many subjects your students have vocabulary words in. In addition to spelling, we always have important words in math, science, history, and language arts. Imagine being able to log-on, create a specific list for each subject, and have your students come over to practice and learn their vocab and spelling words. No more papers cluttering your work space waiting to be corrected. No more sighs about having to do plain old vocabluary work. A family membership allowing you to have up to five children enrolled is only $24.99 per year. That is just over $2.00 per month!

The site has access to hundreds of word lists that your child can use. So even if you didn't have a spelling list for your student, you could just use one of theirs. They have lists for sight words, homophones, colors, numbers, state capitals. They even have lists in Spanish.

Since we allow the children no computer games, James became immediately obssessed with the games on Spelling City. I consoled myself with the fact that these were "educational" and were contributing to his homeschool education. I had to ask myself, though, when and if the skills being learned were more about moving the mouse or quickly hitting the arrow keys and less about learning to spell? Is the repetitive process of spelling the words really teaching him how to spell as effectively as our rule-based program? It does allow him a fun way to practice spelling the words. That is definitely a bonus. But I found that most of the activities on the site that James engaged in left out the "why" of spelling.


Although the premium membership is very well organized and definitely made my life easier, I felt that the programs offered were too much like video games to be a long term benefit to my family. I will, however, remember this site for the future if any of the kids need a little extra practice in spelling and/or vocabulary.

I wanted to add that I spoke with another homeschooling mom of six who uses Spelling City at the Premium Level. She believes this site to be key in her success as a homeschooling parent. She uses the site not only for spelling, but also for science and language arts vocabulary. She loves how easy it is to track the progress and the skills learned by her children. It also relieves her burden from grading and charting each child. This definitely made me think that we should return to the Spelling City site when I have more than one child who would benefit from it.

Click here to visit the Spelling City's website and see how it can help your child!


Rob said...

We recently moved to a new school district that has the premium Spelling City for both of our first graders. They also have a site called for the kids too that is more math oriented. I like that one too.

Catherine said...

My boys don't get much time on the computer, either, so this was a nice change for them. They liked the keyboarding practice, too, and surprised me by doing the sentence and paragraph writing options!