Who knew teaching spelling to my girls would become one of my favorite parts of our day? And who knew that given the opportunity to have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband on a recent “date night,” the conversation would turn to a detailed discussion of various spelling rules? My life, it seems, has recently been organized around spelling and spelling rules. I have Marie Rippel’s All About Spelling curriculum to thank for that!
As I said, it has become a touchstone in our homeschool day. So much so that my 3 year old begs to be part of it. I oblige him at the end of our spelling time, and he is really becoming proficient in spelling simple words by sounding them out.
One of the reasons I LOVE All About Spelling so much is the simple explanations of rules I once considered mysterious. I literally had NEVER heard some of these rules. But, oh how I would have had more confidence in writing if I had known them from as early an age as my kids are learning them! Demystifying and simplifying spelling is such a big blessing!
Spelling with Tiles
Another reason I love All About Spelling is one of the things I hear complaints about the most – the spelling tiles! “They get lost!” I hear. Or, “They are hard to keep track of!” and “Are they really worth it?”
All About Spelling has created an app for the spelling tiles, but I still prefer the old-fashioned manipulative nature of the letter and phoneme tiles. I watch as my kids use their familiarity with the alphabet to look in the right spot for a letter. Their dexterity and quickness with the alphabet is interesting to watch. Much of this dexterity and familiarity is the result of setting up the spelling tiles each day before beginning spelling lessons.
I also see their eyes light up as they “solve the problem” of picking a phoneme tile or a “team” tile. They truly feel they have accomplished a mental feat when they think to use one of the tiles to reduce the amount of tiles necessary to build a word.
Doing all this while remaining disconnected from screens is a big plus for me. But we have never experienced the frustrations of losing or misplacing the tiles. When we first started using All About Spelling, I created an organizational system that works for us.
A Spelling Box
Organizing All About Spelling started with a box. I grabbed a tin box from the dollar spot at Target. They were originally intended as seed/garden boxes, but I took out all the cards and dividers inside and made it into our spelling box. Into that box, I put the All About Spelling dividers and cards for Level 1. The box still has room in it to tuck the spelling tokens and baggies with the spelling tiles.
As I started, I followed the advice in the Level 1 guide to separate the tiles into the groups Use Now, Use Later, and Save for Level 2. I wrote these labels on 3×5 cards and tucked the cards into the appropriate bags. I also put magnets on the back of the tiles. We do not use a magnetic board for our spelling (we do spelling at our living room coffee table). But I was appreciative of the magnet backers because the tin I put all the tiles into is magnetic. In the odd circumstance a tile is found on the floor after we have cleared away our spelling for the day, I can just grab it and stick it to the outside of the tin. The kids will discover it the next day as they set up for the day.
A Spelling Binder
In addition to our spelling tiles box, I created a spelling binder. It is just a half-inch binder. Into it go all the resources included in the student resource pack and the level resources. These resources are typically printed on cardstock, so they are already durable. But I put them into three hole-punched sheet protectors.
The binder also holds the student progress charts and stickers for the levels we are currently using. Any extras (like the Silent E booklet included in Level 3) is also tucked inside.
I love that I have all the things I need for the lessons in one place. I can grab it and the teacher manuals and get started teaching spelling fast! In this binder, I also have my Alliterative Affirmations bookmark, so I can quickly come up with special ways to encourage my students along the way.
A Spelling Clipboard
The idea of a spelling clipboard grew out of the fact that our coffee table is not a smooth surface. When we would get ready for spelling on paper, we always had to find a “backer.” My kids would take their time deciding what their backer was going to be and it became tedious.
I grabbed a clipboard we had laying around the house and started encouraging my students to grab a piece of paper and a pencil as part of the set-up portion of our spelling. Recently, I had a lightbulb moment and created simple spelling sheets for each All About Spelling Level we have completed or are currently doing.
When I introduced them to my younger (currently level 2) spelling student, she was excited. She said, “Now I can write better!” Yes! I must admit, I created these to help her penmanship.
Now I print out the spelling sheets during my homeschool prep sessions on the weekend and have them ready to go on the spelling clipboard.
If you are interested in getting these spelling sheets for your students, I added them to my Subscriber-Exclusive Library. You can get instant access to them and a BUNCH of other free resources when you sign up.
A Spelling Routine
Finding a rhythm that works for your family might be difficult. It took us some time to realize what works for us. This is our simple spelling time routine.
- Designate a student to set up spelling tiles.
- Set a timer for a level-appropriate amount of time.
- Teaching time.
- Rewards time.
- Repeat steps 2-4 for next student
- Play “spelling” with youngest students.
I hope this article has given you ideas to bless your home and your homeschool. Organizing All About Spelling really is simple – even the tiles! If you are interested in more about All About Spelling, please read this article as well.