Monday, August 13, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Vocabulary Spelling City

Vocabulary Spelling City is an online tool for learning vocabulary and spelling, just as the name implies.  Many of their resources are free but I was given the entire premium membership for the purpose of my review. 

The program offers several ways for your child to explore their vocabulary and spelling lessons.  You can enter your own customized list or use some of the lists already available through the website.  There is a Spelling Test, Vocabulary Test, Teach Me, Flash Cards and Play A Game button at the top and bottom of each list.  As you can see there are also links to print the list, handwriting worksheets and an option to have them teach you word by word.

When I first logged in as the teacher and went to set up my lists, I found the site a little overwhelming and hard to navigate.  They do, however, have a very thorough Videos - FAQ's page that was very helpful.  After watching some of the "getting started" videos I was able to jump right in. Since I do not currently have my own spelling word list I thought I would try some of theirs.  The first one we did was from their Monthly Holiday Lists titled Summer Sports.  I thought that would be fun since Gess had participated in some of those sports and was just getting ready to head to football camp.  The program starts by teaching the words. They then have flash cards that say and spell the word on one side then flip over to give the definition, part of speech and use it in a sentence. 

 Then there are a variety of games and activities.  Gess' favorite was Word O Rama.

Here are what some of the other games look like.

The parent/teacher dashboard has tons of resources that not only let you choose lists or make your own, but they let you make assignments for all students or on an individual basis.  Because there so many activities to choose from I found making assignments really helpful for Gess. This ensured she got the activities and games that were best suited for her (because she has special needs).  As they progress, you can see on the reports what assigments have been completed and what scores they got on the tests.  The Student Records section has a Gradebook, Assignments, Student Activity, Writing Practice, and Students tab.  On her first test Gess misspelled two words (though I think at least one was a typo because she spelled it correctly orally) and she only missed one on the vocabulary test.  Here is her Vocabulary Test Report and a sample of her Activity Report. 

You can also print off certificates after they take the test but it appears you must do that at that time because I have not found a way to get back to them again.  Of course I have not tried that hard so I may just be missing it.

After doing one of their lists I thought it might be fun to make our own this time so I made up a list to correlate with our VBS theme to use the week after it was over.  VBS is one of Gess' favorite things to do over the summer and she absolutely enjoyed this list because it reminded her of it.  Here she is playing one of the games from this list.

Then it was time for the Olympics so we made a list about that as well.  The only word she got wrong on this test was London and that was only because she forgot to capitalize it. Here was her handwriting worksheet for this list.   I loved the way you could choose how to format these.  You could choose style (print, cursive, etc.), whether or not to have arrows, font size and whether or not have upper or lower case letters.

Now that we have the spelling down I want to really use some of the other features.  They have some language arts lessons that I like.  Here is a screenshot from the lesson on analogies and below that is Gess working on her antonym word list.

There is so much more I could tell you about Vocabulary Spelling City as it has a lot to it which is also what I did not like about it.  As a mother of a daughter who has special needs, busy sites with tons of options is not always a good fit for us.  Thankfully she was able to navigate the assignments pretty well, which kept her on task so it was doable.  However, with so much detail and information I often found myself struggling with where to find something or figuring out how something worked.  It just seemed like an awful lot of work on my part especially since I usually have to modify lessons anyway due to Gess' special needs. However if I had a large family I would find it more helpful.  I can certainly see how this would benefit teachers who had a large class to keep up with!  And for kids who work well independently this would probably be very enjoyable for them and they would probably love having so many things to do.

Keep in mind that you can use Vocabulary Spelling City for FREE although there are many benefits to purchasing the premium package which is only $29.99 a year for a family with up to 5 children.  Features such as the progress tracking, record keeping, vocabulary test, language arts, premium games and no advertisements are some of what you get with the premium membership.  To learn more about Vocabulary Spelling City visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.


Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received a one year subscription to the Vocabulary Spelling City Premium Membership Family Package for giving my honest opinion and assessment of this product in my review.
Note: All pricing is current at the time of posting and is subject to change.

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