I was so excited to be a part of this review! We have loved everything that has come our way from Institute for Excellence in Writing and Phonetic Zoo was no exception! We received Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] to try for this review.
I used this product with my 9yo 4th grade son. Spelling has always been a struggle (we have tried a few products), we did like what we had been using, but it still didn’t seem like it was sticking. My son is a auditory and visual learner. When I read about Phonetic Zoo I just KNEW that this was going to be the program that WORKED! I was right!
The program starts out with you watching Spelling and the Brain by Andrew Pudewa. He made reference to this talk in the writing curriculum seminar I reviewed previously; I had been wanting to watch it. (I didn’t realize it’s available on YouTube!) It is a MUST WATCH, particularly if you have a struggling speller! This is an amazing talk and it really helps you understand how the brain works and why spelling is such a struggle for some.
The two things that sold me on this program from the start were:
1. It’s an auditory program
2. It can be completed by a child independently
We got off to a bit of a rough start with the program, I discovered my CD player did not have a earphone jack (and it’s too old for blue tooth). SO, I put the files into iTunes, he used the iPad to do his lessons.
He was not sold on this program at first. I won’t lie, we had quite a bit of tears. He did not like getting words wrong, and he definitely did NOT like repeating the same lessons after getting them wrong. It REALLY stressed him out until about half way through the 2nd lesson (so about 9 times of using the program). He now realizes that it WORKS! He is so proud of himself after he gets 100% on his lesson. I have tested him randomly on past words and he STILL REMEMBERS THEM!!
Below is lesson 2 (the hardest of the lessons so far), the left is attempt 2 and the right is his final attempt, #8. You must receive 100% two times in a row before moving onto the next lesson. He was so proud when he finally got 100%! He no longer stresses or gets upset about the lessons. He understands they are working, and he understands the process. It just too a little while.
Part of the program is also putting together a ZOO (hence the name). There are several options they show you for setting up your own, we opted for the lapbook because of the lack of wall space. It’s quick and easy reference for him at any time.
Another great thing I LOVE about IEW is that you also receive digital file copies of the hard copies your purchase. This way you can have them when you are on the road (which homeschoolers sometimes are).
The Starter Set Level A package includes:
- 5 audio CDs (includes MP3 downloads)
or MP3 downloads and no CDs
- Lesson Cards with all three levels of spelling words and jingles
- Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
- Zoo Cards that serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
- Downloadable Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes PDF file
- Spelling and the Brain video seminar (link to streaming video)*
The beginning of each new lesson I do a small lesson, then my son is independent until the next lesson. This works great for me, as he is 1 of 4 children. It frees up time for me to help the other kids (which are younger) with their work. We have slowly been working towards more independent work for him, as well; so, this was a great addition!
After I introduce the lesson to him, he listens to the words, spells them and then listens to the correct spellings. He writes the ones he missed correctly and then redoes the lesson the following day the same way.
I made these spelling sheets, feel free to use them as well!
I really have enjoyed seeing how his attitude about this program has changed, how his confidence in spelling has grown and most of all how much his spelling has improved.
I highly recommend this program if you have a struggling speller!
IEW has such great products, we know use them for spelling, writing and grammar! They are worth every penny!
The printed version of this program is $99, or the downloadable only version is $79.
There is a placement test to determine which level is best to start your child at. This program is recommended starting at 3rd grade. It’s listed for up to 8th grade, but could help struggling spellers of any age!