Traditional Spelling I and II were created to be the final pieces of the Memoria Press phonics program. Traditional Spelling I is intended for use after students have completed the kindergarten program which includes Classical Phonics and the First Start Reading Books A through D. However, I think that students who have learned phonics in some other fashion can also use Traditional Spelling. Before starting Traditional Spelling I, students must be able to read both short- and long-vowel words as well as basic sight words.
Specific Classical Phonics lesson pages and flashcards are referenced throughout both Traditional Spelling teacher manuals and are used for the first day’s lesson presentation each week. Because they are used so frequently, customers need to purchase Classical Phonics and the flashcards along with Traditional Spelling I if they don't already own them.
Traditional Spelling courses reinforce phonics while teaching spelling words that are grouped by phonetic concepts. The courses also teach spelling and syllabication rules. A Phonics Overview for the Teacher at the back of each teacher manual covers the basic consonant and vowel sounds plus all of the other phonograms such a ph, oi, squ, and ough. Here you will also find seven phonics rules, seven spelling rules, and syllabication rules. Parents and teachers might find this information extremely helpful.
Both courses present 34 weekly spelling lessons following the same format for lessons five days each week. The second course increases in difficulty and adds cursive models for students who have learned cursive or are making the transition that year.
While the first lesson of Traditional Spelling I begins with short-vowel words, the second lesson teaches words that include various phonograms that make the long a sound. Two-syllable words are introduced in the ninth lesson and contractions in Lesson 21. By the end of the book, students are spelling words such as weather, knife, and season. Because it covers so much territory, you might use the first course in either first or second grade.
Traditional Spelling II begins with words that include paired-consonant phonograms such as thanks, pick, and cuff. Students learn about homonyms such as dear and deer or hole and whole. Toward the end of the course they are spelling words such as enjoyment, ceiling, neither, and author. This course is best used with second or third graders.
The courses are truly traditional. While modern spelling programs often include scrambled words for children to decipher and boxes to fit the shapes of the letters. Traditional Spelling uses time-tested methods. Children are taught the correct spelling from the beginning with no guessing on a pre-test. Phonograms and phonics rules are explicitly taught and used. Students use colored pencils to identify vowels, consonants, and lengthier phonograms as well as silent letters. Words are taught with definitions and in the context of sentences and a short story. Oral dictation is used once students have had time to learn the spelling words. Students also take complete sentences from dictation.
Lessons are designed to be presented by the teacher or parent with many of the lesson activities shown only in the teacher manuals. In the student books, four pages for each lesson provide lesson activities. You can also use the booklets titled Spelling Practice Sheets that are available for each course. These booklets have each week’s spelling words on the left of three columns on a page. The other two columns provide lines for practicing writing each word twice.
Traditional Spelling was designed for classroom situations, and this is reflected in the instructions. However, the courses should work well in homeschool situations. While you might not be able to use the group games in the appendix, you will be able to use the spelling review games for individuals.
Even though teacher manuals provide detailed lesson plans for each day with direct instruction, I think that some homeschoolers might skip part of the direct instruction if it seems unnecessary. For example, you might not discuss definitions of the spelling words if your child already knows them.
While student book lessons follow a consistent format, the teacher manual describes an interactive activity for each of the first two or three days of each lesson. These vary, sometimes requiring a group class but mostly useful in all situations. Activities might be as simple as filling in blanks on a whiteboard or more involved such as writing a sentence on a strip, cutting it apart, and asking students to reconstruct the sentence. I noticed that there was at least one scrambled-word activity, but it can be skipped if it is not helpful. While the lesson plans present these activities as essential parts of the week’s lesson, I think homeschoolers will use them selectively.
Traditional Spelling’s strong reinforcement of phonics and the method of grouping spelling words around phonetic concepts helps students learn to think about spelling from that perspective rather than encouraging simple memorization. Taken together, the methods encourage critical thinking and analysis when it comes to spelling, tools that should serve students well for their entire lives.