Natural Speller
Eliminates Busywork!

Natural Speller

Natural Speller was a Godsend for our homeschool! I think it was during the 8th grade - about the time that my daughter began to enjoy writing stories on her own - that I realized I had made some erroneous assumptions about her spelling abilities. It wasn't completely unnerving... just a little wakeup call for her teacher.

We were homeschooling pretty much eclectically (using materials from different sources to teach a subject or subjects), I had tried a variety of workbook approaches with spelling exercises. I even enlisted the help of a few 'freeware' software programs, fed lists of spelling words into them to generate word search and crossword puzzles hoping to make spelling 'fun'. She saw it as so much busywork and had little interest. Because she was an excellent and dedicated reader, I had decided not to worry about it. Whoops!

Once that gaping gap was discovered however, I knew I needed to take this subject more seriously. But where should I start? How could I order a program without knowing which level? Perusing my trusty catalogs, I came across Kathryn Stout's 'Natural Speller'. I really liked the review and decided to give her approach a try. It was a great move!

Here is how my daughter and I used it:

  1. Natural Speller provides lists of the most important words to know for each grade level (Gr. 1-8).

  2. Starting with Grade 1, even though my daughter was in 8th grade, I read each word aloud and she spelled it back to me... we were, in effect, doing a placement test.

  3. We covered about 20 words each day, and she was able to sail through the first several grades in the first week giving her a great sense of accomplishment.

  4. When she began missing words, she wrote each one in a notebook along with a sentence that showed me she knew the meaning of the word. If she didn't know the meaning, she was required to look up the word in the dictionary and copy down the meaning and then use the word correctly in a sentence.

  5. Once she had accumulated 10 missed words, I asked her to do some of the suggested activities in Natural Speller with each word, giving her a choice of which she wanted to do. Her goal was to master spelling not only the word itself but also its variations... such as adding 'ing' or making the word plural.

  6. When she felt she had mastered all 10 words, I gave her an oral or written quiz. Words she knew where checked off and words she missed, if any, were written at the beginning of a new list.

  7. As each grade level was completed, I gave her a review test either written or oral on that grade.

    By the end of the school year, she had mastered all of the word lists in the program and learned the basic spelling rules as well. From that point on, She kept her own notebook of misspelled words from compositions and reports she had written. No busywork!

    I highly recommend Natural Speller by Kathryn Stout of
    Design-a-Study, not only for remedial spelling help but also to teach spelling from first grade onward. You can learn more about it and see Kathryn's other study programs by Visiting Design-A-Study

    But you don't have to take my word for it. Here is what Christian Book Distributors has to say:

    Instead of trying to memorize words letter by letter, your children can become "natural" spellers by learning to recognize sight and sound patterns in vocabulary. This program allows you to customize a curriculum for grades 1 to 8 that teaches commonly misspelled words, Latin and Greek word parts, abbreviations, contractions, homophones, numbers, and more at a pace that's suited to your students.

    And here are some reviews from other homeschool moms

    Reviewed by Melissa Brillhart (Hanover, PA), September 17, 2007
    I just starting using this spelling book with my 1st, 3rd and 6th grader. It allows me to work with them at their level without having to purchase 3 different books! We are really liking it!

    Reviewed by Ellen (Murfreesboro, TN), February 15, 2001
    This flexible program delivers what it promises. The word lists and objectives are well done. Now we don't waste time on words the children already know, and we can focus on the words that are troublesome along with their "cousins".

    Reviewed by Cindy (Greensboro, NC), January 15, 2001
    This book is WONDERFUL! I have been using it with my 3rd and 5th grade children and we love it.

    Have you used Natural Speller and found it to be helpful? Maybe you didn't care for it. Please consider submitting your experiences using the form below to help other moms decide whether or not to purchase it. Thanks for sharing!

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