Sunday, February 14, 2010

More on Math & Some on Spelling

Friday was a an unusual day for us.  Emily didn't eat her breakfast and by lunch time, I realized that she hadn't asked for any snacks like she usually does.  When I reached to feel her forehead, she backed away.  Ok, something was up!  Katie ran for the thermometer and that's when I discovered that Emily's temperature was 101.3.  Where did that come from?  She didn't want to say anything because she has gymnastics every Friday and didn't want to miss.  Poor thing.  I hated for her to miss, but I'm not one to send my kids off with a fever.  So homebound she was!

From that point on, I didn't push for school figuring she needed to rest.  But she practically begged to to math!   Ask and you shall receive!  She completed the geometry unit with a couple of review sheets and then we played some math games.  Our math game book from RightStart is loaded with lots of fun card games.  I'm so glad that my friend introduced us to RightStart and that it's working for us!  I hear so many stories from homeschooling friends about how they've had to switch their math two or three times a year because it just wasn't working.

This brings me to discuss spelling.  We have tried several different spelling books but have stuck with one for a couple years now.  I'm thinking about trying something different for next year but I'm not sure what.  Does anyone have any recommendations?  Some prefer a program that teaches words in families.  I'm not sure that matters for us.  I don't put as much emphasis on spelling because it occurs naturally through reading and writing and we just correct misspelled words as we go.  We also use Bananagrams for spelling from time to time.  We use Spectrum Spelling right now and I've tried Spelling Workout, Spelling Plus, and Sequential Spelling.  Of all of these, Spectrum has worked the best.  But, we're kind of getting bored with it.  So after this year, I'm thinking it might be time to move on to something different.

Sequential Spelling was interesting.  It doesn't teach spelling rules.  The writer's belief is that these rules are usually forgotten and don't really help much because the English language has so many exceptions to these rules.  So every day, the student is given a spelling test.  They do the best they can to spell these unstudied words and when they are done, we go through each one and correct any mistakes.  That's it.  There's no review, there's no second test.  Nothing.  There is some logic to it and eventually some of the words are repeated on subsequent tests, especially words that are commonly misspelled.  And one list may have begin and the next list may have beginning.  So, I get it.  The problem we had with it was that my daughter never seemed to feel a sense of accomplishment.  She wanted the chance to work with the words.  You have to remember, she went to public school for K & 1st grades, so she was used to getting a spelling packet each week.  And she actually liked doing them!  That's when I found Spectrum.  It does teach spelling rules, but not in boring detail.  In fact, I have not had to "teach" most lessons.  I'm sure I will as the work gets more challenging though.

One last thought on spelling is that I'm going to borrow Spelling Power from a friend just to check it out.  I've read many reviews on this and they are all over the place.  Some love it, others hate it.  Being recommended by MFW makes me want to give it a chance.  But since my daughter enjoys worksheets, I'm not sure this will suit her.  I won't know until I look at it.

I'll end by saying that Emily was fever-free by bedtime, without the aid of any drugs, and was fine all day Saturday.  Thankfully, it was short-lived!


  1. We did the Spectrum workbooks for my son, but this year, we're doing nothing. I got sick of the workbooks. But I know he didn't. And I think he needs to work on basic spelling before he moves onto anything else. We're doing McGuffey readers, and we pick out a few words from every lesson and practice them. I think I like them more. ANd since I have all the books, we may just stick with those. As for my 2nd grader, we are starting Phonics Pathway this week. I'm hoping it will help her read and spell better. We shall see. :)

  2. McGuffey readers are basically what Anne of Green Gables, Little house, Abraham Lincoln used. :) They are a series of 6 books, a speller(which, for the life of me, I can't understand) and a teacher's guide. I found the entire set at a used curriculum sale. My son is in 4th grade and using the second reader. My daughter in 2nd grade is using the pictoral primer for her reading and some spelling. I went too fast with my son, and he never remembered a single word, so I went back to the beginning of the book before Christmas. So we are on lesson 5. :) They include about 30-40 vocab/spelling words in each lesson. But I only make him do 10-15 words. I put a dot next to them and he writes them each day and has a test on Fridays, if I remember. He also writes out a paragraph twice a week for handwriting. I like the fact that I'm not going to have to buy LA books ever again. Unless I want to, of course. :) I like the teacher's guide also. It helps me come up with different ideas for each week, so we don't get bored doing the same thing over and over again. has sample pages that you can see.

  3. You use these instead of the language lessons. My son didn't like the first book, that's when I switched to the spectrum workbooks. My kids enjoy these. Their is even a museum, of sorts, that we go to, that had outdoor buildings and it has the McGuffey school and house. They get a real kick out of going there, when it's nice. :) At first I thought these books were better for older kids, but now I realize that they are great for those who need a little extra time. I'm even considering using Ray's arithmatic. It's the same way. Old style. You go at your pace, and their are no grades, just levels. They tend to freak out when they notice the grade on the outside of workbooks are lower than they are.

    Also, I have no problem talking about curriculum. :)

  4. I had a great deliberation with this back in the early Fall. I decided on Rod and Staff. You can look at a lot of sample pages on their website, as well as, the words studied for the year. Each lesson is grouped with some spelling rules in mind. I can say that I actually remember spelling words from my childhood, so I think they are important to teach. Each list has 16 words (for 3rd grade) and that includes three review words from previous weeks. I also, add any of the past missed words that my daughter is struggling with to the bottom of the list. I like that I have something set up for me and my daughter can just take her book and get started with or without. By the way, I do NOT follow their weekly plan. I simply have her open the book to the current lesson (2 page spread) and read the words on day 1 of the week. If she needs help we read them together. Mostly, she can read them without help. An example of how I have her read the words is this... ex. "dog"... She will say "dog. D-O-G spells dog". Also, I love this workbook because it has the words side by side in print and cursive. I then have her write the words one time in cursive for handwriting practice. This is easy for her because it is written in cursive in the book. She gets handwriting practice and spelling practice at the same time. On day 2 she does the lesson part one. Again, she will do the words for handwriting practice, as well as, write a sentence or Bible verse for copywork. On day 3 she does the lesson part two and we do similar with the handwriting (sometimes I do not make her write the words and I give her other stuff to write since that part is handwriting practice). One day 4 she does lesson part three which is really very simple dictionary skills and I will pre-test her orally on the words. Day 5 is testing... I just have her write them on the dry erase board (just because she likes to) or orally or whatever we feel like. ;)

    Just wanted to share.... R&S has made spelling easy for us. She says is it is easy which has built her confidence in herself and I do not have to fight her to do it. I also know that she is learning those spelling rules (by the way they usually have a rule on the top of the page) and grouping similar words in her mind.

  5. It sounds like R&S is similar to Spectrum. As far as handwriting practice goes, we do a lot of writing, from all different subjects. Writing used to be a source of contention, but now it's just accepted as part of the day...thankfully!

    Thanks so much for all your input. I have a lot to explore and look forward to learning new things! For now, we'll stick it out with Spectrum. But it's nice to get ideas for next year! I really like the idea of a more classic education but at the same time, I like the structure of the workbooks.

    I really appreciate you sharing your ideas & I enjoy learning about what you all use!