Friday, October 28, 2011

Vocabulary Spelling City Review

I thought it was probably about time to share some thoughts about Somewhere around three weeks ago I signed up for a free premium membership (normally $24.99/year for up to 5 students) in exchange for a review.

To be honest, I'm not sure where to begin. I like the website, but find it a little busy and disorientating, even with the "getting started" video clips. So, it's going to take me more than three weeks to really give a good evaluation.

A lot of is accessible for free already. You can check it out at any time, at the link above. There are games, printable worksheets, and tests for spelling lists. You can enter your own spelling lists, or take advantage of lists already on the website.

The premium paid membership adds an element of tracking and record keeping. Students are given their own log-in, and teachers can view their logs to see how often they've played games, or taken tests and which words need more work. There is also more of a vocabulary component to the paid membership, which is nice for older students. To the right is a checklist from the site, comparing the memberships.

My oldest (age 14) protested that it is a "baby site". I think that's mainly due to the slow but upbeat voice used to spell out the letters, and the cute animated mouse used in many of the games. He has however, been passing the tests. And G (age 12), the only one of my children who has been using a workbook for spelling help, says she likes the website's "play to learn" approach better than what she was doing before.

The games alone don't work for everyone. D (age 8) has been faithfully playing two games a day using the same spelling list, but has yet to learn how to spell the words. However, there are printable worksheets, and flashcards to bridge the gap.

All in all, I'd say it's a worthwhile website to check out, if you're looking for additional spelling resources for your children. Let them experiment with the free games and printables for a while, and then if they find them helpful, you might consider upgrading to a paid membership for the score keeping, and organizational benefits.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

I am glad you mentioned about one of your children playing but not learning. So many homeschoolers have their kids play learning-game computer curricula but I have the not-learn-the-material aspect to every learning game site I have ever tried with my kids. They faithfully play the games but it doesn't help them learn the material. I guess it is that way for some kids.

Joyful Learner said...

It probably depends on the child's learning style.

Kendra said...

We found, too, that while the kids enjoyed the games they weren't learning how to spell words from it.

Ticia said...

I wonder if my kids are like that because they can play all sorts of games on Jump Start but they don't really learn anything from it.

Unknown said...

Good, honest review! :) We have been using SpellingCity for more than a year, and it's working well. Both of my boys (ages 12 and 7) show improvement with it, but in different ways.

My oldest can play the games and retain what he's learning and he's good. My youngest can play the games, and do OK with them, but he needs to spend a lot more time with TeachMe section. He will go through the words a good 4 or 5 times before he can move onto the games. Even then, he can start a game and realize that he has to go back and do the TeachMe again, lol.

Ultimately, the site has been more helpful than not for us. I'm lazy, lol. So I like having lists there I can use when I don't have my own lists ready for the boys. The boys like the site because, while they DO have handwriting that they have to work on each week, they don't have to spend so much time just writing spelling lists over and over. :)

Again, I appreciated your honest review. I always enjoy reading your blog. And I agree...It's good to be a homeschooler! :D


Nancy said...

Thank you for your candid review, Leah! I wanted to mention that free members can sample any of our Premium games and activities using any of the lists from our Teacher Resources section. Also, games like Unscramble and SpeedySpeller may help with spelling practice.

I hope this helps!

VocabularySpellingCity Support

Deanna said...

We've been using it for awhile. But my oldest (14) uses it just to find the definition and sample sentences. I do wish they had syn and ants because he then uses a diff site for those. My 8 yr old looooves it and we use it more as a reward for him. The free version is working for us.