All About Spelling (AAS) is an Orton-Gillingham style of spelling instruction. But what the heck is an Orton-Gillingham style? It turns out that this style of instruction hails from the 1930s and is sequential and phonics-based; it also utilizes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic methods of teaching.
My daughter has used levels 1-4 and is working through level 5 (there are 7 levels total). Now it is my son’s turn to begin spelling lessons.
But, when should you start spelling instruction:
My experience has been that it is best to wait until your child is comfortably reading short vowel words and spelling becomes even easier when they are starting to learn about long vowel sounds. Neither of my children were super great at rhyming before beginning to read, but they both showed some interest in spelling words before I began the AAS program in earnest with them. You can also read what the AAS blog post says about when the best time to begin spelling instruction.
I will admit that with my daughter I was super excited to begin with her and I started too early. She did very well in the first several steps, but halfway through the program a lot of practice can be missed if the child is not comfortable with handwriting yet. When my daughter reached this point I realized that I needed to pull back a bit and solidify her writing skills.
So, why choose AAS:
All About Spelling is unique in that it uses phonogram tiles to draw upon the kinesthetic mode of learning. We use these tiles whenever I introduce a lesson and for the 10 word cards that accompany each lesson. They also have cards that you can use to work on the sounds that each phonogram makes and cards that reinforce key ideas (eg. each word has at least one vowel).
Level 1 has 24 steps/lessons. It begins with short vowel words and then introduces sh/ch/th words. After that initial blends and final blends are introduced. And finally compound words, plural words, and long vowel sounds are introduced. For a more complete picture, check out the AAS Level 1 Scope and Sequence.
Where are we:
My son is currently on step 12, exactly half-way through the program. We’ve been through all of the short vowel sounds and just talked about the sh/ch/th phonograms. It’s at this point that simple dictation is introduced. Each lesson
What I love about this program:
- The tiles: both of my children enjoy using the letter tiles since it gives them a break from writing
- Dictation: in level 1 the dictation exercises begin with short phrases and then as you move up in levels the sentences become longer and longer.
How we are currently using the program:
- Include the phonogram, sound, and key cards in our morning memory work
- Day 1: Introduce the lesson
- Day 2-3: Spell 5 words from the word cards (this is based on my son’s attention span)
- Day 4-6: dictate 4 phrases (once again, it’s an attention span thing) that my son writes in a composition book
Currently, my son has spelling work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while we are working through his phonics program on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ve found that spelling is such a great complement to phonics instruction; it really helps to solidify those crazy rules that we have in English. At this pace, we are moving through a lesson every 3 weeks, and we will finish level 1 by the fall. However, once he finishes up his phonics program we will start having spelling lessons Monday through Thursday.