Phonetic Zoo Level B

Spelling is one of those subjects that can often get overlooked in homeschooling. Sure, our children pick up and learn words through writing projects but there are times they need to learn certain "rules" to spelling. One program that not only teaches spelling by phonetics and sequential repetition but also teaches spelling rules is Phonetic Zoo, by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). The specific level we reviewed was Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level B (Starter Set).

Phonetic Zoo uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching spelling. The student listens to words being read while writing the words down at the same time and also has lesson cards that list the words they can study.

This spelling course comes with several different products:
  • Phonetic Zoo Lesson Cards- These cards have pictures of animals on the front whose name corresponds to the sound that that lesson is teaching as well as 3 words from each level for that lesson. On the back, the card has the jingle or rule that pertains to that lesson as well as the full spelling list of 15 words for each lesson. The cards are printed on heavy stock card and has a hole punch in the corner if you want to keep them connected together.

  • Spelling Zoo Cards- These cards are a small set of cards (think playing card size) that have the same animals on the front as the Lesson Cards with the "sound" that that lesson is teaching listed at the top. The back of the card lists the jingle or rule that helps teach the sound & spelling for the words being taught in that lesson.

  • 5 audio CD's- These CD's contain the spelling list that are read by the instructor. The teacher also spells out the words for the student to correct their words. You also have the ability to download the MP3 of the lessons if you didn't want to use the CD's (such as putting it on an iPod).

  • Downloaded teacher's note- This comes in a PDF file and explains just how to use the program as well as lesson plans for each lesson.
  • "Spelling and the Brain" video seminar- This seminar explains the how & why their program works as well as the importance to using headphones when listening to the spelling words.

This program contains 47 lessons as well as a final test. The way the teachers manual has this laid out is that the student and teacher sit down before each lesson to go over that lessons rules or jingle and to look at the words for the lesson. Using a sheet of notebook paper, your child writes the numbers 1-15 on every other line. Then they put on headphones (highly recommend by IEW to use) and listens to the spelling words that are read by itself as well as in a sentence. Once all the words are read, the instructor on the CD goes back and spells out each word for the student to see if they got the words correct and to rewrite the words that were misspelled. Another key point that is stated in the teachers manual, the student is to use pen to write their words. Any corrections done are to be done next to the misspelled word.

All in all, this doesn't take long at all for a student to complete. The next day, they repeat the same lesson. Once the student scores 100% twice in a row, they can then move on to the next lesson. This program is self paced so there is no rush to push through each lesson.

There is also a personal spelling list for every 5th lesson. This is where the student can write down words they misspelled in the previous 5 lessons to practice.

Because my 10th grader wanted to use this program to brush up on her spelling, she used this completely independent of me. She uses a spiral bound notebook to write her lessons in. Usually the first time she did a lesson, she listened to the CD. When she repeated the lessons, she had me read the words out loud to her then she looked at the spelling list to correct it herself. It really only took her less than 10 minutes a day to complete. We both liked that this was self-paced and that she could make slight changes to it (such as having me read the words) to suit her style.

There are 3 levels to Phonetic Zoo and they offer a Placement Test online to know which level your child would need. Another note about this program is that you can use it with multiple children!

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