Captain is 6 but we started Kindergarten just before he turned 5 so this coming school year we are doing 2nd grade. His last spelling program wasn't a graded program but worked on levels however he has a great vocabulary so I decided not to use Horizons Spelling and Vocabulary Grade 1 (It looked awesome) and to follow my gut and choose the 2nd grade. I am so glad I did because just in the few weeks we have been using this program I have seen Captain's spelling and writing confidence blossom.
The program itself is very simple. I received three paperback books.
1. 2nd Grade Spelling and Vocabulary Dictionary
2. 2nd Grade Spelling and Vocabulary Student Workbook
3. 2nd Grade Spelling and Vocabulary Teachers Guide
When they arrived Captain was very excited. He always is when he gets mail, but he really liked the dictionary that came with this set. It has just enough pictures to keep it looking like a child's dictionary but definitely a step up from a beginners dictionary.
The teachers guide is very simple to use and goes through the program week by week. In the beginning of the teacher guide it gives the suggested weekly schedule.
Day 1: Assess student's knowledge and introduce words
Day 2: Examine and explore words
Day 3: Look at context and meaning of words
Day 4: Apply understanding of words in writing
Day 5: Assess and evaluate progress
The assessment pages are built into the student book. The first page of each new set of lessons, and vocabulary words is entitled "What Do You Know?" the last pages give you the space for a spelling test, correction of the missed words and then practice.
I was a little worried at first how Captain would react to this program as it's a completely different approach to spelling and vocabulary than I have done with him in the past. We have used more of a living book approach including a lot of copy work. With this program there are worksheets which give guidance as to what to write so he learns to use the new word in his own sentence rather than copying a sentence.
How We Used It;
The very first page of every new set of lessons is an assessment sheet. This is not a test, but designed to see how many of the words to be introduced Captain already knew. The first week he found this quite stressful, but after a couple of weeks he actually really liked it. He took it as a challenge to try and spell as many as the words as he could 'first time'. In fact one week he only got two words wrong and he was very proud of himself. After this Captain used a column labeled 'corrections' to rewrite any of the words he didn't get correct. When this page is turned over there is another printed page with all of the weeks spelling words printed out and a space for Captain to re-write them if he wanted extra practice. You can see some examples of the worksheets below.
At the beginning of each week we used the dictionary to look up the new words and I also used them in a sentence. I encouraged Captain to think of his own sentence too so that he could identify with the new words. Sometimes when he used the words away from spelling he would say 'That's one of my spelling words this week!'
Captain really likes that the pages of the student notebook are perforated so that the lesson sheets can be removed. He really hates writing in a book where the paper is not flat because of the binding. So as we work on them we are punching them and storing them in a binder. This also stops him from using any of the lesson pages to help him with the final weekly test.
As the teacher of this program I really appreciate the Scope and Sequence that is given in the beginning of the teacher's manual it goes through each of the 32 lessons and explains the goal.
Week 1 Lessons 1-5
Goal: To review and study initial, medial, and final consonant sounds. To review division of words into syllables
Week 32 Lessons 156-160
Goal: To review spelling words from Lessons 117-155. Review all spelling rules.
Each week the information for the teacher is clearly explained. I really don't like programs that write the teachers conversation to the student word for word. This program doesn't do that but it does give you the goals and rules that you are working on that week, including little posters that you can put up relating to the rule being taught.
As you can tell we are really enjoying this program. Captain hasn't moaned once about working on it, in fact he has on more than one occasion asked to do more. So that makes this one a keeper for me!
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