Friday, 25 October 2013

VocabularySpellingCity-a review

I still remember the embarrassment of coming last in the spelling test. It didn't help that the English teacher's idea of a spelling test was a set of random words. My children aren't intuitive spellers either. Many people have reassured me that children who read widely can spell but this didn't stop one of my children finishing Pride and Prejudice whilst quite unable to spell prejudice.

In view of this is was useful to have an opportunity to review VocabularySpellingCity with Younger Daughter, aged 7.

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VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership is a programme which can be used with children throughout their years of formal education, from year 1 to year 13 (US K-12) The  It allows the teacher to enter spelling lists for that child or to use lists on the site. A major bonus for us is that those spelling lists can be in UK English.

The programme has many videos explaining how it works and how, for example, to add a spelling list. 

I used the programme to add weekly lists. Younger Daughter then used the programme to play spelling games,

 photo letterfall_zps87fc7ce0.jpg  take practice tests and at the end of the week, her actual spelling test.  Younger Daughter had her own account and we also set up an account for Youngest Son. Youngest Son, aged 4, didn't actually use the programme as it seemed a little complex for a four year old learning to sound out CVC( consonant vowel consonant) words.  We used the programme on four days a week, using the first day for work introducing the spelling words. One set of spellings caused some difficulty so we took a second week working on these. 

The games can be used in two ways either the teacher can set specific games as an assignment or the child can choose their games. I let my daughter do the latter-I wanted her to learn the words but wasn't too concerned how she learned them. If a child chooses their own games, the programme does not appear on the recording screen. This wasn't an issue for us as I was in the room while my daughter did her work but might be more important if the child was unsupervised.

Younger Daughter found that there were particular games that she preferred: Wordsearch, LetterFall, HangMouse and Missing Letter. Some of the games might have been more suited to older children. We found that it was useful to take practice tests most days and the actually spelling test at the end of the week. Using the programme to give the spelling test, freed up valuable time for me to spend with my other two students.

There are numerous other features available: flashcards,

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printable worksheets, handwriting practice, language arts lessons covering topics such as synonymns, antonymns and possessive nouns, useful word lists and educational articles related to spelling.

As a Premium Member, I had a toolbox on the page from which I could manage lists, set assignments and see test results.

What we thought
This is a useful programme particularly for a child who doesn't find spelling intuitive. Having games to play was helpful and made learning spellings more fun. It was also helpful to be able to take practice tests and have these results and those of formal tests stored for me.

I was pleased that we could customise the programme to use UK spelling: no writing of color, check for cheque or empathize!

I did find the programme slightly complex to use. I had to log in and then my daughter. There are numerous videos to explain the working of the site but I would have preferred written explanations which can be quicker.

We plan to continue to use VocabularySpellingCity on about four days per week. It is a helpful programme particularly for children who have to work hard at spelling.

Premium membership of VocabularySpellingCity costs $29.99 (about £18.51) for up to five children in a family.
Some of the functions of the programme (Basic membership) are free on line: importing and sharing lists, some of the games, the worksheet creator and spelling tests. However, the record keeping function, the language arts, many of the games, the flashcards and the games and activity logs are not available on the Basic function but are available as part of Premium membership. This page has a table with the differences between the two types of membership.

To read other reviews of VocabularySpellingCity visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
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