We have used Vocabulary and Spelling City off and on for several years now. I decided it was time to tell you a little about the program and offer a review.
Vocabulary and Spelling City (VSC or Spelling City for short!) is an award winning online game-based educational tool for spelling, vocabulary, and language arts. Don’t feel limited by that definition of the program! It is so much more than just a language arts program. The program was originally intended for traditional classroom use, and because of that it is aligned to standards. Homeschoolers should not let this deter them from trying the program. It is very flexible and homeschooling families can use as much or as little of the program as works for their families.
How it works:
Spelling Teach Me is the first step for the student to experience the spelling or vocabulary words. There are pre-generated lists of words that are grade appropriate as well as lists for words in math, social studies, and science. Spelling Teach Me introduces the student to the word, then speaks the word, and spells the word. The student may repeat this part of the activity as many times as he or she needs to in order to learn how to spell the word.
The student then has the option to play a number of games that utilize the list of spelling words. Parents have the opportunity to print out find a word puzzles and penmanship pages in print, D’Nelean, cursive, and even sign language. In the premium version of Spelling City there are even more options including crossword puzzles, flash cards, Letter fall, and more.
The Test and Teach section allows the student the opportunity to spell the words after hearing the word spoken and used in a sentence. Each correctly spelled word wins the student the opportunity to improve the visual reward of “blasting out” Mount Spellmore. This game adds a little bit of tension without using a timer.
Who is Spelling City for?
Because there are lists of spelling and vocabulary words from different subjects, as well as grades K through 12, Spelling City is for everyone! There are lists that have simple three letter words, and lists for your high school student to practice words they might see on the SAT test. VSC is particularly well suited for visual learners. Many of the games and exercises have an audio component, so the students hear the words, but students who are hearing impaired will also have a number of activities that they can use to learn spelling words.
Because there is no limit as to what a student can work on, it is possible for students who need extra practice or are delayed to use the program. Students who are on level, or advanced can use lists that are appropriate for their age, development, and abilities, regardless of their grade. The Vocabulary and Spelling City program can be used by students with different developmental or learning difficulties.
What else is offered?
In addition to spelling and vocabulary lists Vocabulary and Spelling City offers language arts lessons in either slide shows or videos. There are lessons on homophones and lessons for learning verb tenses. There are many science vocabulary word lists arranged by grade level as well as particular topics within a grade level. For example, my daughter has recently been working on Earth and Space Science in 8th grade. Currently, Spelling City has about 50 lists related specifically to eighth grade science vocabulary. Each of those lists can utilize the games and activities that regular spelling and vocabulary words can use.
New word lists are added frequently, covering literature, science, math, social studies, holiday related, word family, and geography. The program also allows you to make your own lists so if, for example, you were planning a family vacation and wanted to prepare your student by making him familiar with the words related to the trip, or historic site you might visit, you could create a list for that.
When my daughter was in elementary school she did not write. What I mean by that is that she did not put pen to paper without a great amount of angst and argument. She read fluently, could dictate sentences, but she did not spell well, and could not write paragraphs. Because of this we had a hard time teaching her language arts, spelling, and vocabulary in a conventional method. Enter Spelling City. We were offered the opportunity to test it out and it was a great chance to continue her language arts education without requiring her to write.
She could recognize a word if it was spelled wrong, but could not necessarily tell you how to spell it correctly. Many of the Spelling City games allowed her to rearrange letters, or fill in the blank until the words looked right to her. Find-a-word puzzles allowed her to get further practice with spelling without seeming like repetition. One of her favorite games was hangman. (On the funny side, I watched my daughter get letters intentionally wrong because every time the mouse in the game got a letter wrong the cat would progress from sleeping, to one eye open, becoming more alert each time a letter was guessed incorrectly, finally catching the mouse. No worries though, the mouse lives to spell another day!)
Because my daughter could continue her language arts education including grammar, vocabulary, and spelling at or above grade level, even though she didn’t write, I felt like she did not get behind. When she finally did learn to write, she emerged as a fully formed writer, using correct grammar and spelling.
I can tell you that if we had held up her language arts education to what she was able or willing to write, she would have been years behind. Instead, she performs as expected for her grade level in all of the language arts subjects, because she could use the online Vocabulary and Spelling City material to supplement her core curriculum.
She got the needed practice without worksheets, or mindless repetition because each game she played online let her review without boredom. She was allowed to learn at her intellectual level without being limited by her physical issue of not writing.
The games offer ample opportunity for the student to get the correct answer.
There is an acceptable level of praise for getting things right, and corrections for getting things incorrect are gentle.
There are ample opportunities to practice word lists through games providing practice without being mindless repetition.
Students who learn well online can use the program, and students who need or want the extra written practice can print out sheets to use as worksheets.
I feel like Vocabulary and Spelling City is infinitely adaptable. Unlike a workbook, your student will not reach the end, there are always other games, activities, and words to learn.
The cost for the basic program is free.
The cost for the premium program is quite reasonable, currently right at $30 for one year, with up to 5 students on the account.
Realistically, I only have one con to offer. The Sentence Unscramble game only accepts a sentence one way, even though another way may be correct. The example I would give is this. The unscrambled sentence would be correct whether it said, “That woman is my mother and that man is my father,” or whether it said, “That man is my father and that woman is my mother.” However, the program will only accept one way as correct. For my very legalistic daughter, being told the sentence is incorrect when she knows it is a correct option was a bit frustrating. There are not a lot of instances of this, and I do understand that every possible correct answer would be hard to program in.
Check it out!
I hope that you can see the benefits of Vocabulary and Spelling City and will go and check it out. Now is a great time as there will be instructional meetings in March to help teachers and homeschooling parents understand the program and options on how to use it successfully.