Are you looking for a spelling program that will allow your students to practice and test their spelling independently on the computer?
SpellQuizzer, another product tested by the TOS Homeschool Crew, just might fit the bill.
The name is deceptively simple. SpellQuizzer isn’t just for practicing spelling! You can use it for vocabulary practice or flashcard-type drill as well.
I downloaded the 30-day free trial software and began to play around with it. You can input your spelling words with or without a microphone, though using a microphone allows you to record prompts. That way younger students who don’t yet read well won’t have to struggle with reading prompts, but can listen to the prompt, just as if you were there with them, prompting them.
I like to make a spelling list more interesting by making it into a story. For example, take this list from http://www.everydayspelling.com (free spelling lists from Scott Foresman for grades 1-8). I’ve added the sorts of prompts I’d use in a spelling quiz.
(Words with kn, gn, wr, mb)
1. knot – Our dog’s leash was tied in a knot – knot
2. unknown – An unknown culprit had done the dastardly deed – unknown
3. know – Do you know who did this? – know
4. sign – No, they didn’t leave any sign – sign
5. design – Perhaps they wanted to make some sort of design – design
6. writing – Or maybe they were writing with the leash? – writing
7. wrist – Look for someone with a sore wrist! – wrist
8. wreck – This might wreck our plans for a walk – wreck
9. climb – I hope the dog doesn’t climb the walls – climb
10. thumb – Stick your thumb in here to loosen the knot – thumb
…and so forth, and so on. The publisher of SpellQuizzer, as a matter of fact, suggests using silly prompts to make spelling practice more fun!
More than just spelling practice
The program seemed pretty simple at first glance, but as I used it more I began to see lots of possibilities. For example, I’ve been putting in the vocabulary for our science class, long lists of muscles and bones, scientific jawbreakers that our girls have to memorize.
The process is fairly simple and straightforward, though before I got used to it I kept hitting the wrong button and getting an error message. It was a very forgiving error message, however, allowing me to save the word I’d just typed in, and not losing my data.
I can see where, if I were homeschooling a houseful, it might be something of a pain to put in ten new words per child per day, or something like that. We quizzed ten new words a day when we were using Spelling Power, anyhow, and then practiced the ones that were missed. Ten words per child… I might have to make putting in spelling words and prompts an extra chore for one of the older ones to do.
When you enter or edit a word list, you can decide whether it will present the words in a set order to your students, or randomize the presentation.
Your student will see and/or hear the prompt and type in the word. You can elect to have a reinforcing sound file played when the word is correct. (How about fanfares or superhero flourishes, or just plain, “Right!” or “Good job!”)
Words can be marked as case-sensitive.
When the student gets a word wrong, there’s immediate correction. A window pops up with the correct spelling (in green) and what the student typed in (in red). I wish there were an option where you could suppress the student’s wrong spelling and just show the right spelling. (There might be; I’m still finding things in the program as I explore, but if there is I haven’t found it yet.)
You can import spelling lists, or export them to a file to share with other homeschoolers.
You can put in phrases as well as single words. There appears to be a limit of about 20 or 25 characters. (I put in “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” just to see if it would work. It did, but when I spelled it wrong (on purpose) while testing the program, the whole word didn’t quite fit in the spelling error window. Still, when I spelled it right the program gave me credit for it.)
Free 30-day trial
You can buy this spelling software at the publisher’s website for $29.95, or try SpellQuizzer for free for 30 days.
To read more TOS Crew opinions of SpellQuizzer, click here.