Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Crew Review: Vocabulary Spelling City

This fall (well, in two weeks!) Ben starts 8th grade.  I cannot believe this – his last year until high school!  Aack!  This is going so fast!

As we finished last year and looked ahead to the fall now, I pin-pointed Vocabulary Spelling City as the tool I wanted Ben to use to finish off some upper level spelling skills.  He finished all but two handfuls of his spelling words from Spell to Write and Read (our main program for the past few years), and I’m ready for him to move on to something less parent-intensive (I’ve got two more kids to bring up through the program). 
Vocabulary Spelling City allows you to use previously created spelling lists (made by other parents, teachers and schools) or your own to quiz students on computer-generated games that help children to learn spelling as well as vocabulary development.  There are lists for grades k-12.  As the teacher with a paid account, you can pull-up your student’s record to see their progress.  You can assign lists and specific games/ tasks for the students to work on.  Your lists can be 2 words or 40 words.  There is a lot of flexibility here.

For this review, I was given a one-year, premium family subscription, which costs $29.99.   The premium membership gives you many helpful tools that the free membership does not have (click on the summary of benefits below and you’ll go straight to the webpage with even more information about a premium membership).

Capture 1
There are hundreds and hundreds of word lists available.  I was even able to find (with the help of Vocabulary Spelling City’s forums and search features) lists for Spell to Write and Read.  This means that even my little boys can use Vocabulary Spelling City in the fall as additional practice for their word lists. Do you use BJU or Abeka? You’ll find lists already entered here!

If you are an auditory-visual learner, you will love all the short videos that are used to answer FAQs and for training in how to get lists, create assignments, and use other features of this program.

My experience:  I’m grateful for all the helps available on Vocabulary Spelling City, because I needed several sessions to get a feel for where I was in the program and how to find lists, assign them and get moving on them.  Once your children’s names are entered and you’ve assigned lists, you can actually select specific games to target vocabulary and/or spelling skills:

Capture 1
You can save up to 10 of these games/ tasks as a reusable set for your children.  I picked activities that were appropriate to both Levi and Ben and saved those tasks with their name.

After playing them on one or two occasions, I realized they may not be totally appropriate, so I was able to change ‘em up and try again.  Like I said, LOTS of flexibility. {I will say that I am not at all impressed with WordFind, where the student is challenged to make up words using the letters of the target spelling word.  Many of the little words that Levi was asked to find were not grade-level appropriate and some were even texting terms, like “LOL". Plus, how is this helping my student learn to spell the target word?}

My recommendations & thoughts: I’m really happy to have this to use with Ben this coming year as his primary spelling program.  we need to tweak some of the activities I had originally picked out for him, but I’m confident we’ll come up with a decent plan for him.  Most of the games have an educational value to help a student learn spelling words.
For Luke and Levi, I plan on picking two or three activities each for them to work on independently during the school week.  I should note that if you use a program that stresses phonograms, Spelling City’s Teach Me game will frustrate you, as they use letter names to spell words out loud to the student.  I’ll probably ignore this activity and choose other tasks.
If you would like to learn what others thought about Vocabulary Spelling City, please click on the graphic below:


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.