Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Phonetic Zoo - A Review

Product: Phonetic Zoo Spelling Starter Set A

Price: $99

Company: Institute for Excellence in Writing

To Purchase: Level A

Age Range: 3rd grade and up

Other Products: Writing, Spelling, and Various Other Programs

Brief Intro:

Spelling is Sequential

When we look at a word, we see it as a whole, so the correct sequence can be missed. This is why most workbook spelling programs don’t work. Auditory input and then spelling the word out loud, letter by letter, ensures accurate storage of the correct sequence in the brain, which allows for correct retrieval and accurate spelling.

The Phonetic Zoo is a teacher-guided phonetically-based audio spelling program.

After a short introductory lesson, students independently take spelling tests until mastery of the list is achieved. Students learn spelling rules incrementally, which will help with future spelling, and personal spelling lists ensure that all a student’s spelling needs are addressed.
The spelling program is for students in third grade on up and consists of three levels (A, B, and C). If you are not sure what level to start with, take the Spelling Placement Test. Once you know what level, simply purchase the Starter Set for that level. It has everything you need to begin. When you are ready for another level, all you need to purchase are the Audio CDs Only. - from the website

In-Depth Look:
If you are interested in this program, take some time to look around the site. Learn what the program is all about and how it works. Then have your child take the spelling placement test, so you know which level to begin with. This page has a link to a video presentation by Andrew Pudewa introducing the program.
After your package arrives, you will receive the following items:
• 5 audio CDs (Level C has 6 CDs)
• Spelling and the Brain and Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo DVD with the following:
- Spelling and the Brain video seminar
- Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo video
- The Phonetic Zoo teacher’s notes PDF file
• 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, which serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
The first thing I did was watch the DVD. The Spelling and the Brain video seminar stars Andrew Pudewa, the director of IEW, explaining how the brain works and how a child learns to spell. He gives some interesting facts about the process and why some programs/methods will work better than others. Andrew also does an introduction to the program, Phonetic Zoo. His daughter works through a lesson from start to finish, to show how a typical lesson will look.

Next, I introduced my daughter to the lesson 1 card, with its rule and spelling word examples. Andrew stresses that for every rule in the English language, there also exceptions. It is important to stress this to your child. They might not be as frustrated to find these "exceptions" which are included on the spelling lists. You have the child read and spell each word on the front of the card - out loud.
The next step is to set your child up with a CD player and headphones. Andrew says the headphones are a must. It cuts out all the distractions and involves the child more. The lessons are about 10 minutes. The speaker gives a short lesson and then lists the spelling words. Your child spells each word. Then the speaker lists the words again for your child to correct. She should retake the same lesson every day until she can get 100% two days in a row. Then, and only then, should she move on to the next lesson.
As a child masters each lesson, she earns a collector card (spelling zoo cards). Andrew suggests placing them on your child's wall to serve as a reminder of the rules she has learned.

I wouldn't say my daughter loves the program. But I definitely like it and am grateful that we were introduced to it. I plan to have my 12 year old continue using it on a regular basis. And my 8 year old daughter will start using it next year. The lessons are short (about 10 minutes). My 12 year old daughter can do the lessons independe
ntly. The principle is simple and effective. I like that my child keeps at it until she gets it, instead of moving onto a new lesson every week without truly mastering the list from the week before. I like that along with the rule, cards lists exceptions. So right along with learning words spelled "by the rules", my daughter is also learning ones that "don't play by the rules".

In my opinion, this is a great program with lots of potential. Your child may not beg to use it. But
I think you will be glad that they did!

Read other reviews here.

Disclaimer: I rece ived the Phonetic Zoo products free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! We loved it-my dd isn't begging to use it but she doesn't resist it either and that's something!