Vocabulary Spelling City has probably been one of my favorite products to review so far. It is a game-based online program that teaches spelling and vocabulary while allowing the teacher to customize the list or choose from thousands of pre-made lists. The website includes 25 online or print-off activities for reviewing the list: handwriting sheets, alphabetical order, matching definitions, Word Scramble, HangMouse, Speedy Speller, and more.
The website was very user-friendly. Adding the lists, assigning the lists and corresponding activities, reviewing reports—all of these steps were easy to do. Plus, video tutorials are available to help with every step of the process. There is also an audio aspect to the site; a voice says the word, spells the word, and provides a sentence for each word on the list.
Activities to assign are not limited to games, either. Flashcards are instantly created for every word on the list and may be used virtually or printed off for traditional use. “Teach Me” allows the student to review the list with the human voice repeating and spelling each word. Handwriting pages are also instantly created with the spelling list.
Unfortunately, many of the games on the site were a little too difficult for my son: “unscramble,” “word search,” “letter fall,” etc. But the ones he could play, he absolutely loved, especially “Hang Mouse.” Spelling words are used as a “hang-man” game; get the word right before the cat wakes up to eat the mouse. Other games he enjoyed had him finding missing letters or playing “memory match” with the words from his list. Another game I really liked was “Speedy Speller,” which allowed my son to beat his own time typing his spelling words. I tried to introduce this game pretty close to testing day, though, as he got frustrated if he missed the word too many times.
When it came time to take the test, a voice spoke the word and used it in a sentence just like a teacher would do, and my son typed the word and hit return for the next word.
Every aspect of this is customizable. Create your own list, write your own definition or use a provided definition, write your own sentence for the word or use the provided sentence, and select the activities you want your student to complete. However, if you didn’t want to customize a list, there are literally thousands of pre-made lists to choose from, including many lists from local public schools across the nation (if you are concerned about meeting state standards). Another tool was the grammar videos, which I already have penciled into our lesson plans to help me teach syllables and alphabetical order.
I’m also really looking forward to using this with the Tapestry of Grace word lists that are included each week for reading vocabulary and geography terms. It will be a fun way to teach the Tapestry words. I am also using it to supplement our current spelling program with a little more variety for review; already it has helped me detect where my son was not as proficient as he appeared to be. SpellingCity.com has been a terrific tool for reinforcement.
Though much of this program is designed to be done independently, I did like to be with my son when the lessons were first introduced to emphasize the rule for his new list. Depending on your student, you may or may not need to supervise his use of this program.
Overall, I loved this product and will definitely continue to use it throughout our school year. I’ve also contemplated creating a few simple lists for Middlest as she begins to put together her own 3-letter words.
A premium membership is only $29.99/year for up to 5 students. Try SpellingCity.com for free and take a tour of the site. Then, read what other reviewers thought about the program at the Schoolhouse Review Crew.