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Phonetic Zoo Spelling Review

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I have a little something to admit. We basically skipped spelling last year and I feel pretty guilty about it now.  I downloaded a couple of spelling apps and called it good.  This year, I am starting off right with a great spelling program from IEW called Phonetic Zoo.  (I received this product for free in exchange for this review.)  IEW is also offering a $50 giveaway to use on any of their products!  Enter at the end of the post.

Phonetic Zoo Homeschool Spelling Review

First, just a side note. Everything I have ever used from IEW (stands for the Institute for Excellence in Writing) has been amazing. I have tried a lot of their curriculum over the years and each and every one has exceeded my expectations. So anytime I get the chance to review one of their programs, I am always willing!  (You can read my reviews on PAL, and Student Writing Intensive,)

Homeschool Spelling

Phonetic Zoo uses and auditory approach to teaching spelling. The program is very student-led, which I greatly appreciate as a busy mom!  Kids listen to a CD of the words and write them as they hear them.  Each set of words comes with a little jingle or rhyme that helps them remember the spelling rules of the words they are learning. The rhyme is said multiple times throughout the lesson, so the kids hear it again and again to really help it sink in to their minds.

Each lesson includes 15 spelling words. They listen to the words and write them. Then the teacher in the lesson goes through it again and spells the words. The kids write the words a second time alongside the first words. If they misspelled it, they cross it off. If they got some wrong, they re-do that lesson again until they do not get any wrong. Once they get it perfect 2 times in a row, they move on to the next one.

Phonetic Zoo Spelling Cards Front and back

The set also comes with 2 different sets of flashcards. The spelling words and the rhyme are all on the cards. There are some small flashcards and a larger set. The larger ones include all three levels as well as some images.  It’s a great way for kids to visualize and remember them better. The idea is to have a multi-sensory approach to spelling because the more senses there are involved, the better we remember learning.

The Phonetic Zoo Spelling Starter Set Includes:

  • 5 audio CDs (includes MP3 downloads) or MP3 downloads and no CDs
  • Lesson Cards with all three levels of spelling words and jingles
  • Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
  • Zoo Cards that serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
  • Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes spiral-bound book (PDF e-book also included)
  • Spelling and the Brain video seminar (link to streaming video)

IEW Phonetic Zoo Spelling

Here are the things I like about the program. I like that it is self-led.  My kids can do it all on their own and then show me their work when it is finished.  You can do it anywhere!  If you lot the audio files onto an iPod or phone, spelling can be done in different places. I love the format. Kids do not move on  until they have perfected it. I also love that they re-write them right away whether they got them wrong or right.

My only potential cons: The voices on the audio tend to get a bit old. Also, I force my daughter pretending to get things right sooner than she actually does. I will have to carefully watch! 🙂

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  1. Both of my daughter struggled with spelling on end of year testing and I too phoned it in for spelling. 🙁 I’m really leaning towards Phonetic Zoo for next year. I really appreciated your post and the insights you offered into the program!

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