The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Synergy1 Group, Inc.
PO Box 1662
Ponte Vedra, FL 32004-1662
904-686-1541 is an online spelling curriculum for children in kindergarten through sixth grades that takes daily spelling tasks from dull to exciting. In just about 10-15 minutes a day, your child can learn, practice, and/or review the weekly spelling list, with all activities leading to a great score on a final spelling test.

Just as you might expect a daily spelling assignment from a workbook curriculum, this website asks your child to complete a daily activity using words from a weekly spelling list. As opposed to a workbook, though, there are incentives to completing the daily assignment: free-time, fun-only games after the lesson is finished!

Here’s how it works. Upon registering, your child receives a weekly spelling word list that matches his or her grade level. If you find the words are too easy or too hard, you can easily change the difficulty level. Even better, if you have word lists you prefer to use, you can simply create a spelling list yourself.

No matter which list you use, there are four days of learning and practice lessons before a spelling test on the fifth day. If your child would rather practice the words before the final test, there is a review option, too. Each day’s lesson varies. For example, one might ask your child to unscramble the words, while another lesson asks your child to listen, say, and type the word. Some activities require the use of the computer keyboard, while others use the mouse only. The child is encouraged to write the words on paper during at least one lesson as well.

After successfully completing the daily activity, the child is given a screen full of fun-only games to choose from. They are only allowed one free-time game, and it never lasts more than five minutes. My son gladly tolerates a little learning time to make it to a fun-only game after the lesson. In fact, he often asks to do another spelling activity just so he can get to the fun-time games again.

Throughout the lessons, an encouraging male or female gives directions and offers help. The “teacher” character sits in the upper left-hand corner of the screen the whole time, and your child can click on it if he needs help understanding something or needs to have the directions repeated. The character’s mouth and eyes move, making it seem at least somewhat realistic.

Your child doesn’t have to complete one activity daily or even one lesson per week. The program is designed so that your child can move at his or her own pace. If a child wants to complete all five “lessons” in one day, he is able. If he wants to complete one lesson this week then the others next week, the second of five lessons will be waiting for him when he returns.

One of the features I like best is that scores from the review test and spelling test are sent to my email. After my son completes the review test on Thursday, a message will instantly appear in my email box with a list of words my son missed. That allows me to go over those words with him again before the next day’s test. Again, after the final test, the results are instantly emailed to me so I can note the score in my grade book.

The website is colorful without being too busy. There aren’t a lot of extra visuals going on in the background or extra sounds to distract your child. The site is very user friendly for both parent and child. It also loads almost instantly on my DSL connection.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the program because of its innovative approach to making spelling fun. My son no longer complains about doing a spelling lesson. And the proof is in the pudding--he’s getting very good scores each week! It’s been a nice change of pace from the typical schoolwork that we do. It is well worth the price, in my opinion.

Product Review by: Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2008