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Traditional Spelling I and II Review by Debbie Lott

Cheryl Lowe
Memoria Press
(877) 862-1097
10901 Shelbyville Rd.
Louisville, KY 40243

The Traditional Spelling program, published by Memoria Press, is so much more than a spelling program. It is a comprehensive phonics program as well. The first/second grade program includes the Traditional Spelling I Student Book, Teacher Manual, and Spelling Practice Sheets. It also includes Classical Phonics, a well-organized and comprehensive guide to phonics that provides word lists that reinforce mastery of every phonics concept, and a set of almost 300 phonogram flashcards. Prices for individual items range from $5.00 for the Spelling Practice Sheets book to $24.95 for the flashcards. The second/third grade level program includes the same components, but substitutes the Traditional Spelling II Student Book, Teacher Manual, and Spelling Practice Sheets books.

Traditional Spelling I  begins with CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words in lesson one, but rapidly progresses to teach  the spelling  of vowel team words, contractions, compound words, prefixes, suffixes, and  more. The student book includes a work page for each day of the week that helps the student both learn the specific words for the week and learn or review the phonics concepts associated with those words. The teacher manual clearly explains the daily assignments, which include reviewing the weekly phonics concept, copying and sorting the weekly word lists into groups, playing games that reinforce the phonics rules and word lists, color coding vowel teams and consonant teams, and reading passages that include the focus words for each week. It includes activities that are not printed in the student book, making the teacher manual an integral component of the course.

Traditional Spelling II prints the spelling word lists in both manuscript and cursive type, which would be helpful for students who are learning cursive handwriting. Otherwise, the format of the teacher and student books is the same as Traditional Spelling I. It covers many of the same phonics rules (dropping silent e, changing y to I, prefixes and suffixes, etc.), but uses more difficult spelling words. By the end of this course, students will be spelling words like “tomatoes,” “scissors,” “author,” and “already.”

Classical Phonics is a wonderful resource for anyone with a beginning reader. This 140 page spiral-bound book offers word lists for all of the major phonics rules. It begins with the alphabet, introducing letters in an order that allows students to begin reading short words after learning only a few letters. The letter pages each include lists of words using only the letters that have been learned to that point.

Unit One continues with CVC word lists arranged into word families. The book progresses to cover vowel teams, consonant teams, silent e words, letters that produce multiple sounds, etc. Having a student read word lists, although not terribly exciting, provides a lot of practice for each concept while eliminating context cues that would be used when reading a book.

The phonics cards cover the same concepts in a flashcard format. Each phoneme card has a list of words on the reverse side. We used both the cards and the book for variety, although it might be possible to make do with only one of these items.

I used this program with two children who are struggling readers. Both are weak in phonics concepts, so I felt that the Traditional Spelling materials along with Classical Phonics would help them greatly in both their reading and spelling skills. I appreciated the methodical approach that Traditional Spelling uses, allowing us to spend a full week on a particular concept, such as ways to spell the long /a/ sound. The daily activities were short—just one workbook page plus an additional activity such as standing and sitting when a particular sound is heard or changing letters in a word to change the pronunciation. Because the assignments were short, we were able to double up on activities some days. I only tutor these children twice a week, so that helped us to keep up the pace. In a typical classroom or homeschool situation, the students would only complete one lesson each day. This could typically be done in 10-15 minutes.

My students have been enjoying this program and I can see the emphasis on phonics rules carrying over into their reading. The book, Classical Phonics, and the phonics flashcards are wonderful tools for reading instruction as well as integral parts of the spelling program. I’m actually using both with another student that is not yet ready for the full Traditional Spelling program.

I highly recommend Memoria Press’s Traditional Spelling program for reading and spelling instruction. Although it is designed for classroom use, it is just as well suited for a homeschool setting and with the addition of some phonics-based readers provides a complete language arts program for the early grades.

- Product review by Debbie Lott, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2018