A Beka's spelling books use a "...straightforward teach/practice/test approach...." rather than the expanded workbook approaches found in Spelling Workout, Spelling for Christian Schools, and most others. Lessons are intended to be taught rather than given to students as independent work. There is not enough direction or activity prescribed in student books for them to be suitable for independent study. Nevertheless, there are a few seatwork activities with each lesson in student workbooks.
The teacher editions, available for grades 2 through 6, include reduced copies of student text pages, teaching information, answers, sample sentences for all words, and study helps. There are no teaching instructions in the student books, so unless you already know how to teach spelling, you will probably want to get the teacher editions even though A Beka marks them as "optional" in their catalog.
Words are arranged phonetically and are coordinated with other A Beka language, reading, and writing lessons at each grade level. Word lists reflect an above average level of difficulty, so you might choose to abandon the coordination with other A Beka materials and choose whichever book seems to be most appropriate for each student's ability. Spelling and Poetry books can be used apart from other A Beka materials with no problem.
Poems are included at the back of each book for memorization. Grades four through six have separate, optional Poetry CDs available for $15 per level.
Some vocabulary work is included beginning with the second book. A Beka's Spelling series adds a vocabulary strand at the upper elementary grades, changing the book titles to reflect this.
In addition to spelling, poetry, and vocabulary, level 5 spends some time on word usage, pronunciation, and word analysis skills. Level 6 focuses on Latin and Greek suffixes, prefixes, and roots, stressing vocabulary, spelling, and word origins.
Vocabulary/Spelling/Poetry I-III (for grades 7-9)
These colorful books have exercises and practice for both spelling and vocabulary built into the student books. Vocabulary is the major emphasis at these levels. Spelling rules are reviewed throughout the lessons, with some commonly misspelled words keyed to applicable spelling rules.
Word lists in all levels are quite challenging. Excellent poetry from authors such as Longfellow, Scott, and Tennyson is included for appreciation. The teacher edition has answers, lesson presentation information, and other helps. A quiz booklet and a teacher key to the quiz booklet are also available.
All three levels are correlated with other A Beka language arts curricula for each level, but they also work very well used on their own.
Vocabulary, Spelling, and Poetry IV-VI (for grades 10-12)
These books follow the format of books I-III. Content in these three levels shifts to an emphasis on vocabulary from great literature and general reading. Word analysis exercises teach students to utilize knowledge of Greek and Latin roots, suffixes, and prefixes. Spelling rules are reinforced. Verbal analogies develop logic skills. The level of difficulty is very advanced. Teacher editions provide necessary information for lesson presentation as well as answer keys