Tuesday, October 29, 2013
VocabularySpelling City - A Review
So there I was, going about the daily routine of homeschooling our kids, just plodding along. I can't say that I thought a whole lot about our Spelling/Vocabulary program. It's a subject that comes fairly easy for the girls. They do their daily lessons, they're learning the material, they get great scores, so I figured that the program is working. Why in the world then, would I need to change what we're doing?
Yeah, that was what was going through my mind when this review opportunity for the VocabularySpelling City Premium Membership was presented to me, which is available from VocabularySpellingCity .
First, a little information about the website. The title of this online program reveals up front that this is a vocabulary and spelling program. But it goes beyond what many books and/or curriculum offer. This allows you as a homeschooling parent, or teacher in a traditional classroom, to totally customize the word lists to accommodate whatever it is that you are studying. Then, the word lists are used in a variety of activities with the expected goal being to learn the spelling and definition of the words.
You can also choose from their lists that include Homophones, State Capitals, Math words, Science vocabulary, compound words, and even more choices. An appealing feature of this site is that it covers pretty much every age, K-12.
A piece of advice that you would be wise to follow, is to take the time to watch the "how to" videos that are on the site. If you don't, you will potentially waste a bit of time trying to find your way around. I confess that in my initial set up and excitement in getting started, I thought that I would just get it all done myself. I figured it out. . .in time, but after then taking time to watch those videos, found out that it all could have happened sooner.
So, what are some of the activities?
Well, there are virtual flash cards. . .
and a bunch of fun games. . .
Other games that are popular with my girls are the crossword puzzle which is, well, an online crossword puzzle, and hangmouse (hangman, remember that one? :) )
There are also activities that cover handwriting, writing, parts of speech, alphabetical order, parts of speech, all spanning elementary, middle and high school. Wow!
Our word lists pretty much always have 20 words to learn, and I love that as soon as I import them into the program, up pops the definition for all of them. All that the girls need to do is click on a word, and it provides the definition and a sample sentence to put it into context. That has helped them so much, and is one of my favorite features. It's easy to organize the lists, and you can add descriptions for each student, grade, category, whatever you want or need.
The only thing to keep in mind is that when you have a list of 20 or more words, it will take longer to complete the activities. This was an issue at first with some of the games for the girls, because it was tricky for them to figure out some of the words for hangmouse, and the crossword games in particular, and there were more than a few sighs of frustration with 20 words to unscramble. That didn't prove to be too much for them however, because that was and still is, one of the most popular selections to practice with. But I think that it would be a nice feature if the program allowed you to choose a certain number of words off of your lists to use, and not necessarily all of them at once.
We worked on this 4, sometimes 5 days a week. When we reach the end of the week, the girls take their tests, both vocabulary and spelling. You can do these online or print them. Now, usually I would be a traditional paper test kind of person, but the ease of taking them online won me over, and that is the way that we've taken them. And, the girls have the pleasure of having their tests graded quickly, and getting their results that much faster. They like that a lot. And as you would probably expect, this keeps track of the kids' progress, assignments, and where they are at in their lessons.
There are 2 ways to use this site, the basic (which is free), or what we reviewed, the premium. The premium gets you a whole lot more as far as the activities, progress tracking and teacher support. And really, I think the price is fair at $29.99 a year. I feel that there is a lot of bang for your buck, and recommend the premium for sure.
Overall, this has been a good fit for our family. I always know that a resource is a hit when the girls argue over who goes first, and when that has to do with anything school related, that is a beautiful thing.
The only aspect that I would like to see improved is the ease of making your way around the website. As I said, the videos are helpful, and should be watched, but it would be great to see the site changed a little to make it easier to navigate even without viewing them. I'm keeping this in our curriculum for the foreseeable future, as it's proven beneficial for us. With the option you have of checking out the free activities, I would encourage you to click on the links below and see what you think!
VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership
Price: $29.99 per year
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