We recently received a wonderful spelling program from IEW to try out in our home called the Phonetic Zoo. Now what is really interesting about this program is that it is not your standard grade-level spelling workbook approach. This program is designed for students in 3rd grade and up and consists of three levels. Each level has 47 lessons that are taught by blending sound and sight methods in a way that is fun and easy for your child to remember.
Phonetic Zoo uses the average child’s love of the animal kingdom to make lessons fun and also uses animals as “learning pegs” upon which they can mentally “hang” each new spelling rule they encounter. A complete level set contains:
- Teacher’s Notes e-book (found on the DVD)
- Spelling and the Brain DVD/DVD-ROM
- Set of large flashcards
- Set of small “Zoo” cards
- One set of Audio CDs (Levels A, B or C)
With each new lesson taught, you introduce the new rule to your child using the teaching notes and the large flashcard that corresponds to that lesson. You then give your student the corresponding small zoo card to help them remember the rule of the lesson and it also has written on it a jingle or rhyme about the rule. IEW recommends that to use the program to the best of it’s potential, you have your student go through the lessons on cd using a pair of headphones, paper and pen (not pencil). The student then listens to the first track for the lesson they are studying and takes a test to see what words they can spell. They then listen to the second track for that lesson to make corrections and to reinforce the correct spellings of the words. The student repeats the same lesson everyday until they have gotten every word correct for 2 consecutive days. This ensures mastery and long-term retention of the material. The program also has periodic “personal spelling lessons” and each level has a final exam.
What I like about this program is that it is very teacher friendly and requires very little preparation ahead of time. The student moves through the bulk of the lessons independently. I also like that the student must really grasp that material before moving on to the next lesson.
I used this program with my son, Drew, who is 10, for a month and I actually saw quite a bit of improvement beyond what I have seen thus far using our current spelling program (or any of the others we have used in the past). However, after the initial newness of the program wore off, Drew became very sullen and begged to not have to continue doing the lessons. I think his unhappiness with the lessons came from his complete hate-hate relationship with anything that requires him to write things out repeatedly. The program requires that each word is written out twice daily during the testing and correction times. He thought it was very unfair of me to ask him to rewrite a word if he had already spelled it correctly in the first place!
I would highly recommend this program for an older child that struggles with retaining spelling rules. I loved the program and wish my son had liked it more, we probably would have continued using it!
Each level of the Phonetic Zoo can be purchased directly from IEW for $99 each and contains everything you need to use this program with several children. The fact that everything is reusable makes the program a great value! If you desired for each of your students to be able to keep their zoo cards, then you could easily purchase an additional set for a 2nd child for only $7.
DISCLAIMER: This item was provided free for review purposes through the TOS Homeschool Crew. I received no other compensation, and this review is our honest opinion. Click the TOS Homeschool Crew banner above to read more reviews on this and other products by other Crew members.