Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TOS Review: VocabularySpellingCity

Spelling. I recognize that the mere mention of the subject might encourage severe stomach spasms and cold sweats in some. I, myself, develop an annoying twitch in my eye when anyone whispers “quadratic equation” in my ear. 

Sadly, unlike “quadratic equations” spelling is a much used and important skill for our young people to have. Unfortunately, it also appears to be one that has been much neglected in our high tech age.
In our home, spelling practice isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. Josiah is dyslexic and has a tendency to spell phonetically. This causes all manner of problems (as you can guess). The traditional method of remember and drill doesn’t generally doesn’t work with Josiah. He is the kind of kid that thrives when every part of his senses are involved. He also loves games and challenges.  

When a chance to review the Premium Membership package at VocabularSpellingCity.com came our way I jumped at the chance.  

What I Received

VocabularySpellingCity is an online interactive vocabulary, spelling, writing, and language arts tool for kiddos from K through High School. The beauty of this site is that it can be used in any setting. A homeschooler (such as myself) can use it for a curriculum or supplement. A traditional classroom teacher can use it to help his or her students review or a parent can provide extra spelling practice at home. 

One of the great features of VocabularySpellingCity is that you can import your own lists from the curriculum or studies you are currently using or you can use one of the already prepared lists available. 

The Premium Membership costs $29.95 for a year to use at home. This membership includes up to 5 students. It costs $49.95 for a class room that includes up to 25 students. There are plenty of activities  available on the site that are free, but the Premium Membership allows you to do so much more. 

You can check out a complete overview of what comes with the Premium Membership here.
To use VocabularySpellingCity, you will obviously need a working computer, good internet connection and a set of speakers or ear buds. These games and activities talk to you!

How We Used It 

One of the nice things about this site is that I didn’t have to do too much preparing (or for that matter, thinking).   I simply set Josiah up his own account. Each week I would select a word list from the already prepared lists and assigned what activities I wanted Josiah to complete for that week.  
I will take you through how we managed it all. 

The site has so many resources. The already prepared lists were so helpful to me. I decided to start by letting Josiah work through some of the Dolch Lists. They are generally intended for kids in lower grades, but I knew that Josiah would benefit from every bit of the review. 

 The site allowed me to import as many lists I needed.
 Each week I created an assignment for Josiah. I first selected a Word List from the lists I had imported.
 I then could select the activities I wanted Josiah to complete for the week. I was only allowed to select 10.
 One of the lists Josiah has used more recently was not from the Dolch lists. He went through those fairly quickly. The list I chose for this particular week was fall themed words. You can see the list below.
 You can see all the activities that are available for this word list. The activities on the left are free, while the activities on the right are available with the Premium Membership. I always had Josiah take a pretest with his words so we could see where he was. The games and activities not only helped teach the words he was unfamiliar with, but also reinforced what he already knew.
 This activity is one of the vocabulary activities. 
 This is a screenshot of one his spelling words. He simply clicked on the card to flip through them.
 Josiah loved this game. Actually, I was kind of surprised. This is a word find game. He had to not only unscramble the letters to create his spelling words, but he had to make 3 new words out of the letters as well. Sometimes he has difficulty with this, but he loved playing this game. I think it was a fantastic way for him to gain more confidence.

 There are sooo many other fun things to do...I can't even begin to tell you. 

Of course,  VocabularySpellingCity keeps records. You can keep tabs on scores and even how much time your child spends on the activities. I liked that it also keeps track of the words missed.

We also used the “vocabulary” part of the site quite a bit. Josiah has a tremendous vocabulary and as long as he is allowed time to read through the questions carefully he manages quite well.  

We had finished up a severe weather unit and I was even able to utilize a “weather” list for the vocabulary. I loved being able to use the site as reinforcement. 

My Thoughts

I think overall this has been a positive experience for Josiah. My favorite part of it is that I can just assign what I need to and let Josiah take responsibility for his work. He is at that age now when developing that sort of responsibility is important. I love being able to hand him a bit of independence in this way. 

As far as helping his spelling (which is what it is all about) I think this sort of “drill” has been extremely beneficial to Josiah. The interactive nature of the site does not only keep his interest, but it reinforces what he is learning. 

I almost forgot to mention that there are plenty of worksheets and other activities to print as well. We didn’t take advantage of this feature. Though I know that many of you like to have that extra “pencil to paper” reinforcement. 

Check out more reviews at The Crew blog!


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