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You Can Do It: Spell to Write and Read Training DVD / Phonogram Bingo & Greek Phonogram Bingo Review by Heidi Shaw

By Britta McColl

This DVD has been needed for a long time. Anyone who uses or wishes they could use Wanda Sanseri's great reading/writing/spelling program will LOVE this product. Britta is an endorsed SWR trainer and has taught her own children for many years. In this DVD, we are invited into the McColl home to see exactly how this program works in day-to-day life with multiple children. Britta has taken the mystery out of SWR and helps everyone to realize what a truly teachable and useable program SWR is.

I have been using SWR in my home for years, and I am sold on its benefits. I still learned things from this DVD, and I know that even if I was unable to ever attend a training seminar, I would be okay with this DVD and the program itself. I was encouraged right away by the examples of Britta's children's work, and I was motivated to try the finger spelling technique again, finally able to visualize what I have been muddling through for a while. Britta reinforces the first 11 steps of the program and really helps you realize that it is not complicated after all. I like how Britta describes digraphs as "fixed combinations of letters used to symbolize the sounds of the English language." I LIKE that! It's such a simple definition to teach to the kids, and they understood it. There is no reference made on the DVD to any specific version of Wanda's book, so you could use it no matter which edition you are using.

Britta's manner is pleasant and encouraging, not condescending at all. This program is a home-based effort, filmed by her older children and featuring the younger ones. It has the feel of a home movie, not a commercialized product. I think that is part of the charm of it, and I watched it several times just for the enjoyment of seeing the interaction of mother and children. There are great reinforcement ideas on this DVD, such as making a salt box and sandpaper letters for large motor reinforcement. I also like the fact that Britta is teaching cursive right from the beginning, something I wish I had done with my son. That approach is now endorsed by Wanda in her newest version of Spell to Write and Read.

I like so many of Britta's ideas! If you are new to the SWR program, or even if you consider yourself a veteran, you will benefit from viewing the DVD. It doesn't go into a lot of the tiny details of how to implement the program, such as when to underline, etc., but that is explained in the text quite well and doesn't need repeating. Overall, the DVD is meant to be an encouragement for beginners, and it encouraged me a lot. I loved it and will view it whenever I need some fresh ideas.

Britta has also created a great bingo game designed to help your children master all 70 phonograms. Games are far and away the best way to learn new material, and I don't know anyone who doesn't like Bingo! The game follows the most recent edition of Spell to Write and Read and introduces the phonograms in the order they are presented in the program. The cards start with the very basic "clock face" letters and progress from there. Each card contains only the phonograms from a specific section of Spell to Write and Read, so the kids won't be encountering ones they have never seen before. I love this idea and am really thankful to Britta for making the game available to everyone. She has also provided cards in manuscript and cursive, so you can play no matter what method you are using to teach your children.

The Greek Bingo game was created by Britta's son Peter and is good fun if you are studying Greek or just for Ancient History studies. My kids aren't even studying Greek, but they recognize some of the Greek alphabet. They were intrigued enough to want to try the game. It will be awesome for when we are studying word roots! Now they will understand where some of our English words come from. I highly recommend both of these games to enrich your classroom. I am thrilled with the idea of teaching my reading-resistant 7-year-old daughter by playing games with her. It is great reinforcement and great fun!

Product reviewed by Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2007