TOS Crew Review: All About Spelling

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Here’s another new-to-me product that I think many of you would love!

All About Spelling is a product I wish I’d had from the beginning.  Based on the Orton-Gillingham method of spelling, the program features these attributes, according to their website:

     Multisensory—it is visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Students learn best when we teach using all the available pathways to the brain: seeing, hearing, saying, and writing.

  • Sequential—students are taught concepts in a logical sequence.
  • Incremental—each lesson carefully builds upon the previous lesson. Lessons progress from simple to more complex.
  • Cumulative—the method integrates constant review of previously-taught concepts.
  • Individualized—to meet the unique needs of each student.
  • Based on phonograms
  • Explicit—the student is taught what he needs to know in a direct manner.

Now, let me say from the get-go that I’m not a big "multi-sensory" teacher.  When I see a product with lots of parts and pieces, I usually run the other way.  I’m just not into bells and whistles–actually, I like bells and whistles, I just don’t feel I have time for them, and in so many cases, I worry that they might in fact have the effect of a distraction, making things take even LONGER to learn.  However, in this case, the creators of the product have me convinced that this is a great way to learn to spell!

There are currently four "levels" available in All About Spelling, with levels 5 and 6 on their way.  It’s designed to start with the most basic phonograms and then move up, so you can start a child in any grade with Level One.  If you use this with an older student, you can just fly through the first lessons faster, doing several lessons at a time, as I did with my reluctant speller who’s in sixth grade!

Each All About Spelling package and lesson plan revolves around an interesting concept: letter tiles! 


The 1" square laminated tiles are easy for children to manipulate.  They come with magnets to be attached to the back of each, and then you use them on a magnetic board easily purchased at Target or home supply stores.  This allows the student to move the letters into position/out of position and see the correct spelling of each word they’re working on very clearly.  And you can thank the TOS Review Crew for a recent change to the product: after we all did a bit of fussing about spending a *lot* of time cutting out all the tiles, they’re now perforated so you won’t have to!

But there’s more!  AAS also incorporates colorful flashcards to help students learn as well as review their phonograms, spelling rules, and words.  These they recommend you keep in a file box organized by what’s currently being worked on, what your student has mastered, and what has yet to be introduced.  A progress chart included with every level is a fun incentive for your student.

The lessons are scripted, which makes it much easier to teach.  Level One contains 24 steps covering:

  • How to say and write the first 32 phonograms
  • How to segment words into their individual sounds
  • Short and long vowel sounds
  • How to identify and count syllables in a word

  • How to choose between c and k at the beginning of a word
  • When to double f, l, and s

  • How to spell /k/ at the end of a word
  • How to form plural words by adding s or es

  • Compound words
  • Open and closed syllable types

    You can take as long as necessary to complete each step; if your child "gets it" quickly you may work on one step for a day or it may take a week.  Use it the way your student requires.  Level Two consists of 25 steps covering:
  • The open and closed syllable types
  • How to divide words into syllables
  • How to spell multisyllable words
  • When y can say /î/
  • How Silent E can make a vowel long
  • The vowel-consonant-e syllable type
  • Two spellings for the sound of /z/
  • The two sounds of long u
  • The difference between hard and soft c and g
  • Ways to spell long e
  • That English words don’t end in i, j, u, or v
  • The most common way to spell the sound of /er/
  • When to use oi/oy, aw/au, and ow/ou
  • and more!

    Levels 3 and 4 have 28 and 27 steps, respectively, of similar scope.  And here’s another piece of great news: this is another very affordable product!  At $29.95 for Levels One and Two and $39.95 for Levels Three and Four, I think it’s more than worth the cost.  If you’re using this program with more than one student, you’ll want to purchase a second Materials Packet for them, which is available for only $12.95.  And of course, it’s non-consumable, meaning you can use it again and again with later students–making it even more of a good deal!

    I’ve tried numerous programs with my children over the years, and quite honestly never been thrilled with any of them.  Either the program was too difficult for me to use, too boring to the kids, or seemed full of daily busy-work which in too many cases actually seemed to be detrimental to learning spelling (I’m thinking of crossword-type things here.)  All About Spelling is the most simply-laid-out, painless for teacher and student program I’ve seen.  This program does take time from the teacher–it’s not something your child can do by themselves.  HOWEVER, it certainly appears to me that if a parent were to go through this program with their student during the early years, they’d certainly be quite adroit, confident spellers who could tackle other programs to review on their own as they grew older–if that were even necessary.  And if your student is older and still doesn’t "get" spelling, this is an incredibly simple way to make spelling perfectly clear!

    The website is full of sample lessons and scope and sequence lists so you can get a better idea of the program.  Give All About Spelling a look at — you won’t be disappointed! 

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    2 Responses to TOS Crew Review: All About Spelling

    1. MistyKrasawski says:

      I don't. And I'm sure many are glad they don't pay me, when I'm not impressed with their product. 😉

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