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Spell-Along! Review by Kathy Gelzer

Melanie Ellison
Homeschool How-To's
1000 Rim Dr.
Durango, CO 81301

Here is an ingenious idea! Spell-Along! is a 69-minute CD with 27 lists of 20 spelling words each. Your children, grades 3 through 12, can work through the lists on their own without you or an older sibling calling out the words to be spelled. The 360 spelling words are all commonly used. "Beauty," "trouble," "especially," "article," "appreciate," "apologize," and "adjustable" are some examples.

The CD insert is a booklet with all the word lists. After taking a test, students (or Mom) can check their work. The instructions suggest that the students think of spelling tricks to help them remember the correct spelling for words they missed. The back of the booklet gives several examples of these clever "memory hooks": kindergarten -- ten children per class. Words that have suggested memory hooks are listed in bold type in the spelling lists. My children, who range in age from 8 to 14, all had fun coming up with their own ideas for difficult words.

Except for homonyms, the words are dictated without context. This is unlike the traditional method of giving a spelling test, where the teacher says the word, uses it in a sentence, and restates the word. This omission caused several problems for my little spellers. Did she say clothes or close? Thought or fought? Listen or lesson? If my children spelled what they heard, they might be irked to find out later that they'd spelled a completely different word. Also, some of the spelling words were not enunciated clearly. "Entertain" was pronounced "innertain." "Arctic" was pronounced "ardic."

Since the first track on the CD is an introduction with instructions, track 2 is the first spelling list; track 3 is List 2, etc. It would have been "neater" if the track numbers directly corresponded to the spelling list numbers.

A couple of ways we personalized this spelling program are as follows: I had my children circle misspelled words on the CD insert in their designated color so that I would know their status and could re-test them later on those words. My ten-year-old used skinny write-on flag stickies to mark the column of words each child was currently on to keep their individual places.

All in all, we found Spell-Along! to be a great time-saver and at $7.50, a great value. When it comes to rote work, such as spelling, I'm all for fun and easy curriculum that can be used independently by the children with a little supervision on my part.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2009