All About Spelling and Dyslexia
We started using All About Spelling about 3 years ago when I had an opportunity to review it. We loved it! We used Level 1 and started on Level 2.
Then, we quit using it for awhile.
Spelling fell by the wayside near the end of my burnout year. Then, we started using Trail Guide to Learning. It includes spelling and I wanted to start out using the complete program, just like it was laid out.
I like the way that Trail Guide approaches spelling. It’s integrated with the curriculum and is presented in a way that makes sense with words grouped by concepts, such as word families or similar digraphs. It’s a very effective method of teaching spelling…for a typical learner.
I only have one of those. My other two kids are dyslexic.
When Josh was diagnosed last spring, one of the things his clinician noted in his report was that Josh needed to be taught spelling explicitly – in a very detailed, step-by-step manner.
I knew that All About Spelling was developed with dyslexic kids in mind, based on the Orton-Gillingham methods, which are highly regarded in the dyslexic community. So last July, as we prepared to begin working with Tori, our therapist from Lexercise, I asked if she would look at the two spelling programs I was considering – All About Spelling being one of them – and give me her opinion on which would be best for Josh.
After looking at All About Spelling, she told me that it looked like it was straight out of Orton-Gillingham. It was very reassuring to me to hear that from someone who is actually familiar with those methods.
After talking with Tori, I decided to start back at the beginning of Level 2 because the scope and sequence of that level meshed well with the order she was going to be introducing concepts in Josh’s therapy, which makes for great reinforcement.
(On a related note: I’ve also noticed that the phonemic awareness concepts that were taught in Level 1 are very similar to those that Josh practices in his therapy games each week.)
The letter tiles that are such a huge part of All About Spelling are part of what makes it perfect for a dyslexic kid, I think. It sounds like such a simple concept, but it’s hugely beneficial to Josh (and Megan) to be able to move the letter tiles around as he’s figuring out how to spell different words. The fact that the consonants are blue and the vowels are red is a helpful visual tool, as well. As more concepts are introduced, those tiles are also color-coded in various ways.
The syllable tags are great, too, because they’ve helped to reinforce concepts that he’s working on in therapy – open/closed syllable, r-controlled vowels, and vowel-consonant-e syllables are all concepts he’s been working on these last few months.
It’s not just Josh who’s benefiting, either. Megan is a great reader, but not the best speller. She seems to have something against vowels. She’d prefer to spell with just consonants.
(Does it bug you as much as it does me that we have to hang our white board vertically, rather than horizontally, meaning that our AAS letter tiles won’t fit across the top of the board? It’s one of the drawbacks of our home’s unique floor plan – we don’t have much wall space in our dining room.)
All About Spelling is a mastery-based program with cyclical review. You work on a concept until the student has it and move on, always reviewing previously learned concepts. They make it super-easy, too. Each level comes with a kit of perforated cards. There are four card types:
- Key (spelling rules and concepts, basically)
There is a card for each sound, phonogram, spelling rule, and spelling word that the students learn. Each card is then sorted in one of three ways:
- Review (daily practice)
- Mastered (occasional review)
- Future lessons
These can either be stored in an index file box behind the cardstock dividers that come with each level or, for long-term use and storage, you can purchase the Spelling Review Box and laminated dividers (or they come with the Deluxe Interactive Kit). The spelling box has room for each card in all seven levels of All About Spelling…and it has little foam spacers to fill up the empty spots when you’re just starting out.
It’s been slow going for us, but that’s okay. Just this week, Josh has to do a 15 minute writing sample for Tori. The first couple of times I read through it, I was a little disappointed at the spelling mistakes I saw. Then, I started noticing the words he spelled correctly. I realized that some of the concepts that Tori, All About Spelling, and I have been pounding in his head are starting to stick. It’s exciting to see those spelling concepts finally starting to become second nature to Josh.
Yes, we’ve still got some work to do and maybe reading and spelling will never be Josh’s areas of strength, but I’m starting to have confidence that he is beginning to master the concepts and learn the tools that will help him to be successful in those areas.
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I am glad you found AAS. I was advised against it once when my daughter was at the climax if her struggling. I was too new in homeschooling to know any better. In hind sight I think the person had a personal reason get in the way of educating me about what options I had. Anyway. After tons of research and two years later all signs pointed to AAS. It has been a perfect fit and I have seen marked improvement. My daughter never got an official diagnosis. That is a complicated and long story but regardless she is 10 times improved all around.
We use All About Spelling also. My son is phonetically dyslexic so this program works wonderfully for him. My girls are also benefitting from it and I would never do another program.
We are big fans of AAS too — works great for my son who has autism.
I just thought I’d mention I actually prefer having our board vertical. We have limited wall space too, and it’s forced me to get a little creative, and now I’m in love with our setup. I arrange the letter tiles vertically on the left side of the board, making it easy to slide to the middle of the board. The syllable tags, prefix, and suffix tiles are on the left. All the consonant and vowel teams, sounds of /er/ and other tiles are at the bottom. We’re in Level 4, and so far this arrangement has worked great. I haven’t been blogging lately, but I really should take some pictures and post. We even found some cheap Ikea stools that we use just for our spelling time.
We are also blessed to homeschool with dyslexia and All About Spelling really works well for both of my sons. It goes along very well with what DS2 is doing in tutoring. It works so much better than having a weekly spelling list. We have our board in the vertical position too. Like Kellie we put the alphabet down the left side. I really like having tiles for blends and vowel teams because it makes it so much easier to say “What is another way to write a long o?” and with the kids looking at possible combinations.
I’m just starting using All About Spelling with my younger set of kids. I’m glad to hear that it is working for you Kris. Spelling is definitely a difficult thing for dyslexic kids, even after they are reading well. Looks like it is working for other families too!
Great review – we love AAS. I have one who is probably dyslexic….it helps a lot!
My oldest has something against vowels, too. Just wanted to chime in on the vertical board issue. We had to hang ours vertical in our new home. I put 13 letters on the top left and 13 on the top right. The teams and extras are hung on another chore chart we’d stopped using. I’ve heard of folks hanging a cooking sheet next to the board, too. We keep everything up high on to keep the two-year-old from “spelling” or eating our tiles. If you have no Toddlers you could just run the alphabet down one side depending on what hand they write with.
Great review! We had to go vertical too–here’s a link to pictures of our vertical set-up. AAS has helped my kids a ton too. Love your blog name!
Though I don’t have any dyslexic children, I use AAS and with great success. All three of my kids enjoy the program except for the one thing you love….the tiles. They hate using them. It’s funny because those tiles were one of the main reasons I bought the program…I thought it would help my sons who do not enjoy the physical act of writing. HOWEVER, they hate the tiles so much that they prefer to actually write on the white board than deal with the tiles. HA! This is still a win for me (and them) because now they are getting some extra writing practice. I wish they would make a letter tile app for the ipad because I think my kids would love using it and then they would still get the visual representation of the different colored tiles.
I’m so glad I found this review! I’m getting a bit desperate for my little 4th grader. She dealt with amblyopia during her first grade year and even though she has corrected vision with a contact lens, her year long patch use and lack of vision affected her reading and spelling. She feels so defeated and wads up her spelling tests and throws them at me. Bless her. We’ve tried Spelling Workout, R&S, and even the R&S 1st grade phonics that her little brother used. I’m excited to give this to her; she’ll love the tiles and manipulatives. I wish I’d known about it sooner!!
I hope AAS works well for us. We’ve really enjoyed it.
Would you please share the other curriculum choice you considered and then didn’t choose? I wondered if it was Saxon Phonics…..
It was not Saxon Phonics. I can’t remember the name, but I know it wasn’t Saxon.
I used All About Reading and Spelling, however I found that by level 3 there were some rules that did not make sense and had too many exceptions, so I stopped using it. I since have discovered that my daughter which would have been labeled as having dyslexia had an eye convergence issue. Since then we have used Spelling U See which I liked, but I feel I need something a little more intense. Does anyone have any suggestions? Also, just to put this out there, this journey has really opened my eyes to misdiagnosis in the field of special education. My eye doctor who specializes in pediatric eye care has told me that many children that are diagnosed with dyslexia often only have eye issues that can be corrected with glasses or eye therapy. I was a former English teacher and I often think back to many of my students that were at a third grade reading level in ninth grade even though they have had remedial education. So if things seem really difficult, getting a specialized exam from an optometrist that specializes in eye issues such as convergence might be something I would check in too. Although All About Reading has helped my daughter a little, finding out about her eye issue has advanced her three reading levels in one year, and she is still improving. This has been something many moms I know have discovered with amazing results. We were just lucky to have a reading specialist living close by (Columbus, OH) who has experience in this field. Sorry for the long post. I just wanted to get this out there.