Friday, October 25, 2013

VocabularySpellingCity (Schoolhouse Review)

I am always open to trying out new resources in our homeschool.  Recently I was given the opportunity to review a Premium Membership from VocabularySpellingCity, and I figured it would be a good supplement to my six year old's reading program.

What is VocabularySpellingCity?
This is an award winning K-12 site that allows teachers, parents and homeschoolers to help children practice spelling and vocabulary through interactive lessons and games.  Many aspects of the website are free, including several games and activities, so I wondered why I would want a Premium Membership.  The answer is because the Premium Membership is actually a very comprehensive program with a lot to offer.  Also, the price for families - $29.99 for up to 5 students - is a good value.  Many websites charge extra under the guise of a "sibling discount" but I like that VocabularySpellingCity has a flat rate.

One of the most beneficial features to me as a homeschooler are the record keeping and progress tracking.  We do not materialize a lot of paperwork in our homeschool, so I love that I can print records for our portfolio.

The Parent Account

My account is very easy to navigate.  There is a specific "Help" section, no matter what area of my account I'm using, so if I ever have a question or get stuck, they've made it easy for me to find the answer.  The three primary areas that are most important for me for utilizing the website:

  • List Management allows me to create, edit, print or even group my lists.  While using the Teacher Resources available on the site, you can even import lists from the website right into your account!  There are lists for Geography, Homophones, Compound Words, Contractions, Math Vocabulary, Sports, Animals, and so much more!  There are lists for just about everything you would be studying, so you can save yourself the step if you don't already have a specific list you want to enter.  I personally am importing the reading lists, and creating lists based around our reading program/phonics rules, to help with reading fluency.  You can take this one step further, and turn your list into a customized handwriting worksheet (print, d'Nealian, cursive and sign language are all available).  With the addition of vocabulary and some of the language arts topics they offer, you nearly have a complete language arts curriculum just with this program.
  • Assignments is where I can choose a list and create an "assignment" which is actually any combination of games, activities and tests that I choose for my child.  I can choose to have the assignments completed in a particular order, assign them to one, some or all of my children {well, I only have one using this website, but you get the point . . . } and assign due dates if I want.  I can also add specific instructions.  I believe the assignments are great for keeping children on task, and the ability to add due dates is helpful for older children who are working on time management skills.
  • Test Results allows me to click on my child's name and see all of his progress!  It shows me the date he worked on the activity and how much time he spent.  I can see his score on any tests taken, and I can print the tests results as well.  The ability to print tests is great for physical record keeping, since I am keeping a portfolio.

The Student Account
Everyone on the account has their own username and password.  When Elliott logs in, he technically could play independently with his word list, but there is a green box at the top of his screen if I have created assignments for him, and he can click the arrow to start.  When we first started the program, I imported some of their beginner lists just so we could familiarize ourselves with the website and he could get some basic practice.


There are a lot of games and activities to choose from.  There's a game called Hang Mouse, which is like traditional hang man, and it's a hit with Elliott.  He liked Letter Fall (catching the letters in your word in order), but he had a hard time working the controls quick enough, and I even found it frustrating myself.  There are flashcards, fill in the blank type games, listening exercises, crosswords, matching, and memory type games.  Really, there is a large variety to appeal to all learning styles and ages.  The variety really beats the traditional "write the word five times" assignments I had in school.

There is also a free app that can be used with your account.  This makes VocabularySpellingCity very portable for families who like to take school on the road.

What Do We Think?
Elliott (6) definitely has his preference for games, so I've had to experiment to find the best combination of activities that will both interest him and actually help him.  Also, some of the games do not have audio, so that is a consideration for beginning readers.

I think if you're going to include spelling in your homeschool, or if your brick-and-mortar school child needs additional help with their spelling lists, VocabularySpellingCity is a fun alternative.  I like that there are a variety of games for different ages and learning styles, and it is very easy to personalize a spelling curriculum for every child in the family.

Be sure to read more reviews of VocabularySpellingCity for even more opinions.

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