The Wordly Wise series has gone through many changes over the years since it was first published. However, it remains a top choice for homeschoolers because the variety of exercises in each book helps students understand the multiple meanings that a single word might have depending upon how it is used in a sentence. Also, parents often like Wordly Wise since students can work independently most of the time.
The fourth edition Wordly Wise 3000® courses for grades two through twelve are labeled according to grade (i.e., Book 2 through Book 12). However, the vocabulary is somewhat advanced, so you might choose a lower-level book if your child is average in their reading and vocabulary skills. (Book K and Book 1 courses are also available, but they are significantly different and require direct teaching. I don’t find them as useful for homeschoolers as the rest of the series.)
This review is for the printed books for Wordly Wise 3000, but the same material is also available as an online program called Wordly Wise i3000™.
In this series, students use one list of words each week in a lesson with five or six different exercises. The courses for Books 2 and 3 teach ten words per lesson, while the rest of them teach fifteen words per lesson.
The different types of exercises help children become familiar with each word’s definition(s) and usage(s). Exercises vary from course to course, but they always include work with definitions and proper usage. In other activities, students might work on analogies, synonyms, word origins, prefixes, suffixes, and identifying parts of speech. Every lesson includes one exercise with a reading passage followed by either comprehension questions or vocabulary questions, as well as a “Discussion & Writing Prompt.”
For the first three or four exercises in each week’s lesson, many of the exercises have multiple-choice questions. However, sometimes students underline or circle items, mark items as correct or incorrect, or write either words or sentences. Even the simple-sounding exercises can be challenging and require critical thinking skills because they are so well constructed. The exercises sometimes require students to come up with their own individual responses. For instance, in the tenth lesson in the student's Book 8, they are instructed to complete sentences to demonstrate the meaning of the bolded word in the sentence. One of these sentences reads as follows: “I would like to be an advocate for _____.
For the final two exercises in each lesson, students write out answers for the reading passage’s questions and complete a writing prompt. The writing prompts direct students to first discuss their ideas in regard to a specified word and its usage with a partner or group, then write their own conclusion. Parents whose children are working independently will have to determine how to handle these exercises, but it should be fine if students simply write out their own ideas and discuss them with a parent.
All of these different exercises ensure that children truly understand the meanings of words to be able to complete them.
Each lesson also includes a sidebar with “Fun & Fascinating Facts” about words. These truly are interesting, so try to make sure students take time to read them.
Periodic reviews are presented after every two to four lessons, depending on the course. Mid-term and final tests are available in a separate Test Booklet. The creators of Wordly Wise have partnered with the online supplemental learning tool Quizlet to create optional quizzes that can also be used to reinforce learning. Instructions for accessing Quizlet are in the student books.
There is a classroom-designed Teacher's Resource Book for each course, but homeschoolers can buy the much less expensive Answer Key for each course, and they can also get an inexpensive Test Booklet (that has its own answer key). Homeschool distributors generally sell grade-level bundles that include the student workbook, the Test Booklet, and the Answer Key. Even with answer keys, parents will have to assess what students write for the open-ended questions since the answers are not predictable.
All of the different exercises in Wordly Wise 3000 do a great job of teaching the multiple meanings of words. The variety of exercises encourages students to think about vocabulary words and their meanings in ways that are more likely to help them actually make the words part of their vocabulary.