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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine


October 12, 2011

Spelling: Here's What Worked for Us


Deborah's  Picture  


I never know if I am doing spelling right, even though I have homeschooled for 15 years. As I was quizzing my 11-year-old today, I was wondering what really works best. Is there a "best" way? What I have found is that no matter how wonderful the spelling program, each child I apply it to is very different. I have several natural spellers and a couple of spellers who just don't get the whole language/spelling thing but excel in other areas, such as creativity, art, and music.


Not only is each child different, but I have also used a different spelling program for each one, because I am always looking for that miracle program that will guarantee success. (Over the years I have used so many programs, you have probably heard of them all.) However, success comes with the way the children are created. Some are created natural spellers, and some are created naturally gifted at other things. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can cater to each child's ability or developmental level.


That 11-year-old I tested today is one who has had a difficult time spelling in the past. So, we have focused more heavily on reading and spelling. From the time he was 8 or 9 (he was a late reader as well), we used Pathway Readers (I don't have my children do everything in every workbook, either. I cross out a lot and have them do only what is important at the time). For extra help, we also used Rod and Staff spelling workbooks for grades 2, 3, and 4. Also, when he was required to write, we would work on spelling words within his own writing. This year, we are using a book (McGraw Hill Spelling "Chimpanzee") that gives a list of spelling words at the beginning of the week and uses those words every day of the week in different ways. On the last day of the week, I test him. Sometimes I test orally on one day as a pretest, and then give a written test the next day. After a week of working with these words, he is familiar with their meaning, use, and spelling. I then have him do the old-fashioned method of writing the misspelled words five times each. Whatever I'm doing seems to be working for him right now.


If you ask me what I use for each of the other children, it is likely something entirely different as they are all on different levels. What seems to work for me is a little word that does a big job in my home: consistency. A little here, a little there, five days a week, every month of every year, and they grow up knowing how to spell anywhere from fairly well to excellently, depending on how they are made.


If you have a struggling learner of any kind, please visit Dianne Craft's website and you will also learn about those right-brained spellers. She has some amazing tips to share with you there.


Here's praying that you are not stressing over a child needing extra help in spelling. Stress should be your signal to rest, pray, and find other helps. Be consistent, and enjoy those children as you keep them Home Where They Belong!



TOS Senior Editor     




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E-Book: Molly Saves in the Kitchen - June 2011


Molly is working on the columns for her 2012 digests and would like to know what you think. Head on over and download a FREE copy of Molly Saves! In the Kitchen. Once you've read it, she would love for you to go here to and leave a comment letting her know which column was your favorite and which was your least favorite (and why) before midnight on Saturday the 15th.  


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Coming soon. LETTERS MAKE WORDS is a MUST-HAVE new app for your Apple iPad! It just makes sense! Learn to make letters, put them together, and your young child is reading! Letters Make Words is easy, fun handwriting and phonics instruction. It's the latest from Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting.


Our guest writer this week:


Spelling: Here's What Worked for Us       

By Lori Boling     


Spelling? In our house that is a dreaded word. I have always been good at spelling, so I just naturally assumed that my children would be too. That is definitely not the case. I'm pretty sure they took after my husband on this one. We have tried many different spelling programs. Some were inexpensive, and others we could have taken out a small loan to pay for. Our main problem is that most of the programs we tried worked for a while. I would begin to think, "Wow, this is the one." Then the kids would become bored or frustrated, and I would try a different one. We are now using Spelling Power. I like it because both kids can use it and I have only one book to buy. It also is the only spelling curriculum we will need because it starts with the easiest words and goes through all levels. They don't love it. But, they don't hate it either. I've come to realize that persistency is the key. I think that if I had stuck with any of the programs, they would have worked relatively well.    


I've begun to change my expectations when it comes to spelling. I figure that when my children are grown, everything they write will probably be on the computer. Spell check will be their best friend, and I'm okay with that. Our family has learned that no matter what spelling program we use, if we stick with it, we will excel in the end.    


Many of the programs we have used are available in the Schoolhouse Store. If your family is looking for spelling curriculum, be sure to check out what it has. Don't forget, shipping is always free.




Lori Boling is married to her best friend, David, and has two children, Griffin and Bella. They have been homeschooling for eight years. You can read more about their family by visiting her blog, Loving Learning at Home, where she shares homeschooling tips along with ideas for beginning homesteading. She loves staying home with her children and strives to live a life pleasing to God.




Get your FREE Boys Adventure Catalog! Let JM Cremp's be your source for encouraging and building character in your boys! You'll find everything from toys and games to books, hunting and fishing gear, camping supplies, father-son activities, army gear, and so much more.


Creation Revolution  

If you are familiar with Adam and Eve, you should also know that the Bible tells us that God took a rib from Adam to make Eve.  


When I was a kid, many people believed that men had one less rib than women because of God taking a rib from Adam to make Eve. However, that is nothing more than a myth . . . 


Continue reading the article Why God Chose Adam's Rib.


The FamilymanTodd Wilson
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries

Hey, before I talk about speling, let me just tell you that I'm about to hit the roed with the hole family on a speaking loop down threw Nashville, 10/14; Knoxville, 10/15; Pell City (Alabama), 10/16; Wilmer (Alabama), 10/17; Panama City (Florida), 10/18; Pinellas Park (Florida), 10/20; Naples (Florida), 10/21; Geneva (Florida), 10/22; Jacksonville (Florida), 11/1; and Charleston (South Carolina), 11/3. Boy, if you're neer any of those locassions and you need a shot in the arm, reminding you about what's most important, then plan to be there. All the evnts listed are homeschool events (except the one in Pell City) and are sure to make you lauf and be encouraged. Check out this link for location and times. 


Now back to the speling thing. You know my wife has tried all kinds of different helps . . . from word lists to Sequential Spelling. But my theory is that those curriculms only highlight good and bad spellers. Trueth is, I have good spellers and bad spellers at my house, and after working through spellin programs, the good spellers are "gooder" and the bad spellers are only slightly less bad.


Actually, I'm one of the bad spellers. I can memorize the words, write the words, rewrite the words, learn cute little tricks . . . and I still can't spell them. My wife and dauwter can see a word once and remember it for the rest of their lives. I can check and recheck my work and still can't see mispleled words . . . AND I'M A WRITER! (Praize the Lord for proofreaders.)


So, go easy on your non-spellers. Give them the lists, teach them the tricks, and then love them when they still can't spel worth a dime.


And of coarse . . . be reel,



P.S. My good-spelling daughter, Katherine (14), recently wrote and published a book called A Girl's Guide to Tea Parties. She loves having tea parties, and my wife, well . . . not so much. So Kat did all the planning, craft ideas, and creative work and put them in a book featuring one tea party theme a month (12 in all). Not only will you love the tea party book (because you won't have to do anything), but your daughter will also love it because it's all there for her, tried and tested. Click here to order your own copy of A Girl's Guide to Tea Parties. 




The curtain opens on the school year! Bring creativity and enthusiasm to your students while strengthening skills and self-confidence! Fun, easy-to-stage plays and quality theatrical textbooks. Onstage or in the audience, everyone benefits from putting on a show!

Visit or call 866-333-8215 and request a free catalog today.

See-n-Read Reading Tools (U.S. Patent No. 7,954,444) are research-based, classroom-tested interventions for struggling readers that reduce word- and line-skipping and pattern glare. This assistive reading technology helps improve reading skill by enhancing tracking, "sweeping," and "chunking." These reading remediation tools are endorsed by neuropsychologists, vision therapists, and teachers.    
It's Just Common Sense

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant  


When my learning-disabled daughter was learning how to read, Dr. Beechick's approach to making reading simple and bite-size fit her perfectly. There weren't many word parts to learn, just a few at a time that she used immediately to read words. Her slow but steady progress encouraged us both. When it came time to learn how to spell though, I started teaching her with a schoolish approach: lists to memorize with weekly tests of similarly constructed word groups. Though she could memorize the words in the short term, I noticed that this learning didn't transfer over to her writing. It was then that I turned to Dr. Beechick for help with spelling.


Dr. Beechick gives several methods for teaching spelling, and though all of them were beneficial, the most effective for my daughter was when she made her own spelling dictionary, entering three to five words a week that she misspelled in her writing. She used a black and white composition notebook and had two to three pages for each letter in the alphabet. She didn't alphabetize the words, she just added them to the list for that letter. Whenever she wrote, she used her personal dictionary. If she wanted to add a word to her dictionary, she would ask me how to spell it, I would put it on a sticky note, and she would add it to her notebook. We made word banks for writing about a topic or a book that she was reading. She would put the word bank lists in her personal dictionary. This made her more independent because she knew where to find the words she needed.


If I saw several words in the spelling dictionary that followed the same pattern, we would do a little spelling lesson to go over that pattern. Over time, she didn't have to look the words up every time she wanted to use them; she would actually be able to picture them on the page in her dictionary and write them. We kept her dictionary by the table and used this easy method of review: During lunch, she would pick a letter and I would ask her how to spell several words from that page of her dictionary. I would choose some easy and some hard words, and she enjoyed the challenge. The gradual and frequent repetition really helped build her confidence.


Ashley always loved writing and wanted to be a writer from the time she was very young. She always had such good ideas I didn't want her spelling difficulties to slow her down. Her learning disability could have kept her from her dreams, but through God's grace, her determination, and Dr. Beechick's methods, she grew and developed as a writer. Now she is 25, and her third book will be published this year. God does truly always make a way!


~ Debbie



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Contest Central  

For the month of October, 2011   


Famous Figures of the American Revolution: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble


Famous Figures of the American Revolution: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble is a book of Revolution-era figures drawn on cardstock. The American patriots that are included are Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, Daniel Boone, George Washington, John Adams, Molly Pitcher, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, and a soldier of the Continental Army. Each figure contains a short biography. There is also a companion reading list containing read-alouds and independent readers. For this review, the Punch and Fastener Pack was included, so I had all that I needed. If you don't have a small hole punch and fasteners, you will need to purchase those.


First the parent or the child will need to cut out the figures. The perforated pages make it easy to tear the page out of the book. The figures come in color and black and white, so the children can color the figures. Then the children punch holes at the appropriate places and place brads to attach arms to bodies so that the figures can move. The figures are designed for students ages 6 to 12. (...)


Ms. Diez-Luckie's moveable figures are beautiful. They will liven up any history lesson. She has more historical figures in production.


Read the rest of the review here.


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