Skip to main content

Phonetic Zoo (IEW) - TOS Review

Spelling, oh spelling! Spelling has always been one of those subjects that the boys have had a hard time to master. Since I started homeschooling I have always heard about Institute  for Excellence in Writing (IEW) but only came to know about their spelling curriculum about 5 years ago. Because of tight budget I had never made the plunge, but I always thought it would be a great product to try with the boys. Well that day came when it was offered on the crew, and of course I jumped on it.  I  signed up to received Phonetic Zoo Spelling Starter Set A We have been using it for the past few weeks, and I have not been disappointed.

First, let me tell you about IEW. IEW is a homeschool product company that has been around for a long time, offering valuable products for homeschoolers mainly writing related, but covering spelling and grammar as well. The crew has had the privilege of reviewing many of their curriculum so you might want to check those out.

Now back to The Phonetic Zoo. This is a Spelling curriculum that uses the auditory side of a student learning abilities. It is a self-paced program. We received the Spelling Zoo starter set A - there are three in total, A, B and C.

Our package included:
  • 5 audio CDs (includes MP3 downloads) - this is the meat of the program
  • Lesson Cards with all three levels of spelling words and jingles - these contain the spelling rules and examples - we did not use these as much but if your children need a lot of help with spelling these would be essential and beneficial
  • Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings - Great to keep track of your students mistake and for review purposes.
  • Zoo Cards that serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards - these could be used in several different ways and these are all explained in the teacher's manual, that said they are mainly a review tool
  • Downloadable Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes PDF file - this is such a valuable resource as it contains the how to use the program, a little explanation of the philosophy behind the program and wonderful appendixes that include extra spelling lists, placement test
  • Spelling and the Brain video seminar (link to streaming video)
Phonetic Zoo Spelling lever A is best suitable for ages 9 and up. You can always (actually highly recommended) take the placement test in order to figure out if your child is ready to use this curriculum and/or which level to assign him.

Since this was a curriculum that I had long been coveting, as soon as it got here, I got both boys (grade 7 and 5) started on it.

The way Phonetic Zoo works is that every lesson you learn a new rule/jingle and go through a spelling list illustrating that rule. You keep working on the same list several days in a row until you get them all correct.

Because the emphasis is on an auditory approach, the program recommends the use of headphones. Andrew Pudewa explains how this also helps eliminate distractions and therefore improves focus. So, what the boys would do is get their sheet of paper, headphones, and cd player loaded with the disc and go on with their lessons. Because the boys have made some progress in spelling in the past couple of years, some of those rules they already know but still need more practice, so I  did not bother going over the rule with them at the beginning of each lessons, as suggested in the teacher's manual.They just dug right in.

So, in each lesson, after jingling the rule, the voice on the cd will go through a list of 15 words, one word at a time with dead time in between each word to give the student time to write it down. Every 5 words or so the jingle will be repeated for better retention. Once the list is done, the voice will go over the list again, this time enunciating the spelling for the student to correct himself, and write the right spelling in the case he got it wrong. If the student got any of the words wrong, he is to repeat the process the next day. Once he gets all 15 words right, he can move on to the next lessons. Every 5 lesson there is also a review that is included.

The boys found Phonetic Zoo easy to use and I found it easy to implement in our school day. Each list is made up of 15 words and the whole process, for us, took about 15 minutes. We used it 4 times a week and I was surprised that they did not find having to redo the list the next day when they got some words wrong (granted the most tries they had to do for a lesson Has been about 3 times I believe). I really like that it can be done independently, and the boys actually like that too!

The Phonetic Zoo is a great program that targets auditory students but works well with any type of student. There is repetition, writing, hearing and review, all woven throughout the program.


IEW Review

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Middle School Junction - Learning Independence and Responsibility

In my previous posts about Middle School I have shared about how I have been blessed with quite independent kids. I had promised a post about how I went about to encourage independence in my children. Here it is finally! First off I have to say that some kids are naturally independent, and in this case it is quite easier to cultivate that. With others, it is a bit more difficult and requires intentionality and being more aggressive about it. When you have kids who have learned to be independent and to own their learning, they end up being kids that do their school work, even if mom forgot to write a subject on the list of to do for that day. Here are a few steps I took in developing independence in the boys. Give them freedom - the first step is to gradually give them freedom in how they want the school day to go. Involve them in the decision making of what subjects to do each day and in the order as well. Build trust - the kids need to know that you trust them and expec

Keyboarding for the Christian School - TOS Review

  Given our technological era, the need for keyboarding skills is evident. Though I believe that proper handwriting should still be taught to our kids, teaching our kids to properly use a keyboard is very important if we want them to be able to survive in this age of computers and the likes. This being so, lots of companies try to develop keyboarding skills programs for our children. I received such a program a few weeks ago for us to try and review. Keyboarding for the Christian School is a keyboarding curriculum design to teach kids to learn to type efficiently. The program is in the form of an e-book as opposed to being an online typing program. You can either print the e-book or put it on a mobile device such as an Ipod, Ipad, Kindle or Blackberry, and read of of it as you do the typing, by propping it up next to your working computer (you could use a laptop too). The author of the program explains her choice this way: "W hy choose a printable e-book versus a web-b

Toronto - A Homeschooler's Trove for Field Trip Ideas and a Giveaway

I live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), which is in the province of  Ontario in Canada. Canada is known to be a very accepting, loving and beautiful country. Since we moved here about 9 years ago, we have enjoyed living here. We started homeschooling shortly after moving and field trips have always been part of our yearly activities, whether with a homeschooling group, or with the family. This month the Canadian Blogging Team is taking you around the GTA on a virtual field trip. Come on along and see all the places Canada has to offer. I will list here all the places I would take you if you were to pay me a visit, and all the places we have taken out boys, or hope to soon, on Field Trips. The CN Tower , right downtown Toronto, one of the hallmarks of Toronto. Not to be missed! The Ripley's Aquarium , the newest attraction in Toronto, right downtown as well, and definitely worth the visit. This is also a place great for a field trip, which is how we went. The Ont