The Spellwell series targets grades two through five with two worktexts per grade level. Books are designated A and AA for second-grade level, B and BB for third-grade level, C and CC for fourth, and D and DD for fifth. Teacher keys are single books that each cover the two books for a grade level. This series designs lessons around spelling rules or generalizations. Some of these are discovered by students as they look for patterns, while others are specifically identified. One or more “outlaw” words appear in each lesson, and space is provided for you to add your own words to be studied.
Lessons begin with a pretest. Students who get most or all words correct might be given an additional list of more-challenging words to study or the “alternative homework” I describe below.
A variety of age-appropriate activities helps students recognize spelling patterns. Other thinking skills come into play in activities such as identifying rhyming words, words that fit the same categories, antonyms, and synonyms. Some assignments take students outside the workbook. They might be instructed to “find as many words with ow as you can.” To do so, they can do things such as using spelling words, asking friends or relatives, or consulting a dictionary. There are occasional composition assignments as well as puzzles, scrambled-letter words, crosswords, and other more-entertaining activities.
A really nice feature is the “alternative homework” option at the bottom of many pages. If a student does well on the pretest, he or she should tackle the alternative homework option rather than the regular lesson activities. Of course, parents are always welcome to use alternative homework assignments whenever they seem appropriate. Alternative homework suggestions are very diverse. For example, page 23 in Book CC says, “Choose two of your longest spelling words. Make as many words as possible using these letters.” Page 33 of that same book instructs, “Write synonyms or antonyms for eight of your spelling words.”
All worktexts have lists of all of the spelling words at the back of the book. Some books have progress charts for recording spelling test grades.
Because of the variety, these worktexts might require more teaching or interaction than some others, but even using the most challenging activities does not require a lot of input from the parent or teacher. Generally, these are very easy to use and will not require any lesson preparation.
The worktexts are printed in black-and-white, and they have some cartoonish illustrations and creative page designs that make them more visually interesting than books like Building Spelling Skills.
The flexibility and variety within Spellwell lessons are likely to make these courses especially appealing to Sociable Sues, although they should work well for all students. Another plus is the very low cost for both the student worktexts and the teacher keys.