Spell to Write and Read

Spell to Write and Read

Wanda Sanseri wrote Spell to Write and Read, a guide for teaching the first four years of language arts—phonics, penmanship, spelling, reading, composition, logic, and introductory grammar—using methods originally presented by Romalda Spalding in The Writing Road to Reading. The Writing Road to Reading has a challenging organizational structure that makes it difficult for parents to use without assistance, so Wanda came up with her own easier-to-follow presentation.

The heart of Spell to Write and Read (SWR) is the phonograms which children practice saying, writing, seeing, and reading. Phonetically-taught spelling is the primary tool used for teaching writing and reading rather than a skill to be picked up later through reading.

The program uses its own system for marking the phonograms and highlighting rules in spelling words. Students internalize spelling in a way that naturally blends into reading.

This program also has more rules and fewer sight words than most others. The result is that 99% of the 1000 most-frequently-used English words have rules that apply to them in SWR. In most other programs, students memorize more sight words but learn fewer rules, so there's a trade off here.

Students build their own spelling textbook, so there is quite a bit more writing than in other programs. At first glance, this program seems designed more for rule-oriented students and those who might like the detailed analysis of words rather than for the wiggly student with a short attention span who might be frustrated with the amount of detail and notebook work. However, many teachers who have followed the program's suggestions for using multi-sensory activities and for keeping the pace moving have been able to use it successfully with such children. (Note that some parents might still have trouble teaching the program because of the amount of detail and work required.)

In addition, some learning disabled children who need much repetition and very complete, specific instruction have benefited greatly from this method. Much depends upon the parent or teacher's ability to make the program enjoyable and adapt lessons to meet the needs of each child.

SWR is to be used with Wanda's WISE Guide for Spelling. WISE Guide covers 2000 basic words (plus hundreds of derivatives) to teach the foundational principles of English spelling. While SWR provides the methodology, WISE Guide provides much of the content.

Wise Guide lesson plans each cover a set of twenty words in SWR. Recommended preliminary activities include warm-up drills and motivational comments for introducing the lesson. Sentences are provided to illustrate each word. Selections come from literature, quotes of famous people, or instructive comments. Each word is divided into syllables and highlighted to amplify phonograms and spelling rules. Information to explain the spelling is provided.

Creative ways to reinforce the spelling words are suggested. Rather than uninspiring activities like copying a word five times, students actively use spelling words in a variety of ways. The teacher is given simple instructions and the student works from the words dictated for him to write into his spelling notebook. No worksheets are needed. Spelling lists actually cover up through twelfth grade level, so you can use this program as a spelling resource for older students.

WISE Guide is much more than a spelling resource. Enrichment activities involve a wide variety of topics: literature, grammar, antonyms, synonyms, derivatives, etymology, contractions, compound words, alphabetizing, keyboard instruction, punctuation, alliteration, homonyms, analogies, words of comparison, oxymorons, figures of speech, verb conjugation, poetry, plurals, subject and verb agreement, Greek and Latin roots, possessives, and appositives. Assignments utilize art, pantomime, refrigerator magnets, deaf signing, and games. Numerous approaches are used to improve composition skills including: creative writing, letter writing, diary work, vivid word selections, descriptive writing, feature writing, and dictation.

Supplements available from Back Home Industries include 70 Basic Phonogram Cards, Phonogram CD, Primary Learning Logs, SWR Charts, Alpha List, New England Primer, some beginning readers, and McCall-Crabbs Test Lessons in Reading. When purchased from the publisher, SWR, WISE Guide, Phonogram Cards, Spelling Rule Cards, and Phonogram CD are sold as the Core Kit at a discounted price.

Sanseri and 22 other teachers she has trained and endorsed offer seminars for groups across the country and in Canada. I have received positive reports from those who have attended Sanseri's seminars and used her materials. They tell me that she gives them practical instruction that really works for homeschoolers while clearly explaining the basics so they have confidence in their knowledge and ability to teach their children. If you cannot attend a seminar, you might be interested in a four-hour instructional DVD by Sanseri titled Hidden Secrets to Language Success. This teacher training DVD features clips of Sanseri teaching students of various ages plus scenes from a teacher training seminar.

Pricing Information

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Spell to Write and Read Companion 6 CD Set

Spell to Write and Read Companion 6 CD Set
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Instant Key

  • Learning Environment: group or one-on-one
  • Grade Level: grades K-6
  • Educational Methods: traditional activity pages or exercises, intensive phonics, interactive, multisensory, stories
  • Educational Approaches: eclectic, traditional
  • Religious Perspective: Christian

Publisher's Info

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