Wednesday, October 30, 2013

VocabularySpellingCity Review

Vocabulary and Spelling are subjects that I usually just have the kids do worksheets with.  Or we have some discussions about vocabulary words while we are reading books.  But this method has done nothing except cause whining issues.

"Seriously....another worksheet.  You mean I have to write!"  Our boys have difficulty with fine motor skills for handwriting.  So that does get frustrating to them.  VocabularySpellingCity ($29.99 per year for premium membership for up to 5 students) has been a lifesaver to us to help with Spelling and vocabulary  words.

VocabularySpellingCity is an award winning online program that allows students to work in fun ways with their spelling and vocabulary words.  They give you access to over 50,000 words and sentences already entered into word lists, and you can still type in your own spelling lists and save them.  The words and sentences can be read to the student by the computer allowing the student to be able to work more independently.

VocabularySpellingCity does have two levels of access to their service.  There is a free level which provides lists, limited access to certain games, handwriting worksheets, and tests.  For only $29.99 for access of up to 5 students, parents can have full access to all games, word lists, spelling tests and quizzes, assignment tabs, grammar videos and work, teacher resource area (including assignments and recording keeping paperwork).

The boys are not using this as a "spelling" program right now.  Instead I have just been assigning them vocabulary lists.  VocabularySpellingCity is named perfectly in that you are learning your spelling as you are learning vocabulary.

After I assign a list of words, I can choose what games the boys can play to help them learn how to use the words in sentences and the meaning of the words, and still sneak in a couple games so that they can learn how to spell them also.  The list of games that you can assign as part of the Premium membership is wonderful.

I can assign as few or as many games as I would like.  Some days the kids only want to play 1 of the assigned games, and others they want to play multiple games.  I can go in and make adjustments to their assigned games if needed.

By the way, each one of the children have their own user id/password.  That makes them feel pretty special.  But as the "teacher" who keeps forgetting them, at least I still have access to all of this information.

There is a video that VocabularySpellingCity made to help explain the benefits of the Premium Membership.

The boys and I have also been taking advantage of the Teacher Resources that are available with VocabularySpellingCity.  This section of VocabularySpellingCity provides videos, extra worksheets and games that the children can play to help them grasp the writing or grammar technique.  Joey has been using this alot and really likes this, since he learns more from seeing and just reading.

I like the extra worksheets (oh kids hate my love of paper) to help them really grasp the skill.

Lydia is really just starting on spelling.  I am combining her learning of sight words along with her spelling right now.  It seems to be working, as she is able to play the games helping her remember the words.  But then she is able practice her spelling also.

Instead of just copying her spelling lists, she is able to play fun games to help with retention.  Most of the games help out by reading the words or directions to her....which helps me out since she is still struggling with higher leveled reading and gets frustrated easily causing her to shut down.

VocabularySpellingCity doesn't add anything extra to our schedule.  In fact, if you factor in the time it takes them to "copy" their spelling words....and this includes the arguing about why spelling is important and why learning how to use words properly is so important......VocabularySpellingCity has actually decreased the amount of time the kids spend on spelling each week.  In fact, Lydia forgets that she is even doing spelling.

With the large amount of games to choose from, I try to change up what they do weekly.  Unless there is a favorite game that they love and do really well with.  Then I will make sure that game is included in their work.

One of their favorites is LetterFall.  The word is read to them and then they need to catch the letters (in order) that are in that word.  This really makes their brains work with their fingers and helps with visual perception therapy.  All the kids get a little frustrated, because you lose points if you get the wrong letter.  I really like this game because of the hidden benefits besides learning how to spell.

If you choose to, you can also print flashcards for the kids to use.  The boys hate flashcards, and Lydia is also not a fan, so I haven't printed any of these yet.  But with Lydia feeling more confident in her reading, we will start using these more her practice.

This is another favorite game.  The kids need to match the spelling/vocabulary word with the definition.  The boys really like this game, Lydia is learning too.  She does like this game though, she just gets frustrated needing to hit the "repeat" button in case she forgets which word is which.  As her reading has been improving slowly, she has really started liking it.  She says, "Who doesn't love a game with a penguin?"

VocabularySpellingCity is very easy to use.  It does not add any extra work to my schedule, in fact it has been nice to be able to move around and work with other kids during "spelling" time.  I am able to assign games/videos to the kids and leave them to work as independently as possible.

I personally believe that the Premium Membership is definitely the way to go with VocabularySpellingCity due to the extra benefits and ability to assign tasks and the wide variety of games that are available for me to assign the kids.  Joey and I are also really liking the videos and extra grammar resources that are available under the Teacher Resources.  This section has been really great for Joey.

VocabularySpellingCity is great for kids in Grades K - 12, so it is easily able to be used with a wide variety of age groups and skill levels.  That is another reason I really like this program.  We have so many programs that are kid specific.  This is not the case with VocabularySpellingCity.  We have 3 kids using it now.  It takes me just a little time to assign lists and games/activities for the week.  It might take me a little longer to watch videos before I assign them to Joey, but really I am spending less time planning in this area.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were able to use VocabularySpellingCity.  Please take some time to check out the blog and see how this program worked for their families.