One curriculum that we really enjoy using in our home is called Spell to Write and Read by Wanda Sanseri. It is a phonics and spelling program for preschool thru high school age students.
I love that I only had to purchase the core kit one time for all my children for all the grade levels. Once you buy the core kit you are off and running for years of phonics and spelling lessons. The only additional purchases I make are one Learning Log (primary or black) per child per school year.
In my opinion, Spell to Write and Read is the best phonics and spelling program available. It makes sense of the English language like no other program I’ve seen and the research behind the program is amazing. It’s based off of The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding and the research of Dr. Samuel Orton.
If you are debating whether to use Spell to Write and Read then you might find my pro and con list helpful. I have also included a list of helpful links and resources including fun activities and free printables.
Pros of Spell to Write and Read
- Economical: The Core Kit is really affordable and you use that every year for every child. You also purchase one Learning Log per child per school year. There are no other purchases needed!
- It makes sense of the English Language! I was always told that English was filled with exceptions to lots of rules. But Spell to Write and Read uses 70 basic phonograms and several rules to explain more than 93% of the words in the English language. (Wondering what a phonogram is? A phonogram is letter or combination of letters that represent a sound.)
- It gives children the opportunity to think about each word before spelling it so that the rules of the language are firmly established in the their minds. A lot of phonics programs introduce words according to word families, leaving little need for the child to really think about the sound of the letters and the rules behind the spelling. My kids don’t have to guess at the spelling of words anymore. They just think it through using the spelling rules they have learned.
- Handwriting and phonics go hand in hand for a multi-sensory learning experience. I like that I can teach my young children the phonogram sounds right along with teaching them handwriting. I have seen the benefits of learning cursive writing before print so I use the inexpensive program Cursive First by Elizabeth FitzGerald which coordinates with the SWR program.
- It integrates beginning grammar, composition and vocabulary with each spelling lesson. I would advise purchasing an additional grammar and composition curriculum for the later elementary school years and beyond. We enjoy Fix It! Grammar and IEW writing.
Cons of Spell to Write and Read
- Teacher intensive: SWR requires a lot of teacher investment. This is not a spelling curriculum that your child can do on his or her own. A parent (or educator) must be prepared to spend time teaching and reviewing the phonograms, rules and dictating the spelling words on a regular basis.
- It takes time and effort to understand how the program works. A parent teaching this program should take several months to look over the materials, read the teachers manual and become familiar with the phonogram sounds, spelling rules and spelling markings that are used throughout the program.
You don’t have to be overwhelmed by this con list. Check out my blog post, Overcoming the Challenges of the Spell to Write and Read Program. You might also enjoy this video I made explaining how the Spell to Write and Read program works.
Helpful Links and Resources
Back Home Industries– They sell the SWR curriculum
LITHBITH Educational Services – They sell SWR and the Cursive First curriculum along with helpful information for implementing both.
Answers the common questions about SWR.
Video of how to teach phonograms using SWR and Cursive First.
Video of SWR Phonogram Review
Video of SWR used with younger children
SWR You Tube channel with more helpful videos on how to use the program
Fun Games and Free Printables
Fishing for Phonograms (blog post)
Phonogram or Spelling Word Candy Land (blog post with video)
Read it. Spell it. Write it. (Free printable)
Roll it. Read it. Write it. (Free printable)
Magnetic Phonogram Tiles (Free printable)
Read it. Stamp it. Write it. (Free printable)
Phonogram Progress Charts (Free printable)
Creative Ways to Review Spelling Words (blog post)
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