All About Spelling Review

I’ve seen several spelling programs and have not been overly impressed.  It seems that the programs  fall into one of two categories, either they are based on memorization and focus on commonly used word lists or they teach word families.  Neither method has ever appealed to me.  I want a spelling method that teaches the “why” of spelling, that gives our kids rules and reasons that we spell the way we do.

All About Spelling is hands down the best spelling program that I have seen.  The program focuses on teaching the “why” of spelling and it uses a multi-sensory approach to teach that “why”, for easier teaching and better retention.

The method:

“All About Spelling” begins by teaching the sounds for the 26 letters in the alphabet.  For letters that have more than one sound the children learn all of the sounds (i.e. for the letter ‘a’ the child learns /a/ as in cat, /a/ as in cake and /ah/ as in father).

Next the child learns how to segment words, how to divide the words into their letter sounds and how to identify what sounds make up the word.  The children do this by using tokens to signify each sound in a word.

The hands-on part of the method comes in the form of letter tiles.  “All About Spelling” comes with letter tiles for each of the 26 letters and also for common letter blends.  The children use these letter tiles to identify sounds and to segment and spell words.  There are also many optional activity ideas that include more hands-on and tactile learning.

The program then goes into the mechanics of spelling, introducing syllables, letter blends and other various rules that govern spelling.  Each new concept is introduced slowly and clearly and several different methods of instruction are given.  The rules and ideas follow logically and build upon each other.

All About Spelling also includes a method of review for the sounds, rules and concepts that are introduced.  (This is very similar to our review method for memory work.)  It also teaches the child to verbalize as they write which involves three pathways to the brain, visual (they see the image), auditory (they hear the sounds spoken aloud) and kinesthetic (they feel their hand forming the letters and feel the vocal cords vibrate as the sound is repeated).  Several other hands-on and tactical teaching methods are introduced and parents are encouraged and instructed how to adapt the program to fit their child’s specific needs.

There is no memorizing of word lists in “All About Spelling”.  The child is taught to hear and recognize the sounds in words and then taught the rules to understand what letter/letters should be used to represent those sounds.  The kids learn the “why” of spelling.

What we thought:

This is the best, most logical and comprehensive spelling program that I have seen.  I did “All About Spelling” with our 7 year old son and he loved spelling with tiles, reviewing his sounds and rules and learning more about word construction than he ever has before.

This is a great program for children who have difficulty with fine motor skills because the children initially learn to spell with the tiles.  If you’re child really has difficulty with writing, you can teach “All About Spelling” using the tile exclusively.

“All About Spelling” gives many different options for teaching the concepts and gives teaching tips for when a child makes mistakes or doesn’t understand something.  It also includes additional practice words for children who grasp things more slowly.  This makes the program very easy to implement no matter who you are teaching or what their learning style.


  • The method is marvelous.
  • Multi-sensory teaching style
  • Logical, incremental approach with lots of built in review
  • Spelling words are mostly simple allowing the children to apply what they have learned to more complex words.  (I like this although I’ve seen others who would prefer more complex words.)
  • Easy to decide which level – All students begin at level 1.  Older students will move through the early levels very quickly.


  • I think that multi-grading this would be difficult and did not attempt to do so myself.
  • You may need to purchase a student pack for each child depending on how quickly they move through the program and how organized you are.
  • Time intensive for the teacher – This isn’t a “go study your spelling words” program.  Each day the teacher sits down and works on spelling with the child.

Bottom line? “All About Spelling” gets two thumbs up.  All About Spelling will teach your children the reason that we spell words the way that we do.  They will learn the “why” behind spelling.

You may purchase All About Spelling Level 1 with a student material pack for $29.95 and Level 2 with a student material pack is $39.95.  There are currently 5 levels of All About Spelling.  In addition to the teacher’s manual and material pack you will need an index card box and paper and pencil.

All About Spelling has come out with a beautiful new easy reader that corresponds to their spelling program.

You may read more of my homeschool reviews on my review page.

I was given All About Spelling Level 1 and 2 with the student material packs in order to complete this review.  All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this review.

This post is included in the Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup.

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15 Responses to All About Spelling Review
  1. Michelle
    December 5, 2009 | 4:14 pm

    We began using this program a year ago, and are still loving it! And I have seen improvements in my children’s spelling as well as their attitudes about doing spelling lessons. I had also seen or used several other spelling programs, and since I have used this one I have not felt the need to try any others! My older children love it, and I believe the younger ones will love it when I use it with them. 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Do you multi-grade at all with AAS? Do you need a separate student pack for each child?


  2. MomStarr
    December 7, 2009 | 12:23 pm

    My 8 year old boy has a terrible time with spelling. Dictation is brutal for him. Would I start him on level 1 or go to a higher level? I have been asking around about good spelling programs to help him. My two older ones are doing fine on their own with spelling but this one is struggling more. I don’t want to just hope he figures it out along the way. I feel he needs some one on one work in this area. What do you think?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    With All About Spelling, you always begin with level 1. He will move through very quickly and probably already knows how to spell all of the level 1 words, but it will teach him why to spell them the way he does.

    I think this is great if you want him to learn the why behind spelling. It will probably help him tremendously and when he’s finished you could run your other kids through.


  3. mommytomy2+2
    December 8, 2009 | 8:26 am

    I just have to agree that I love this way of spelling. When my daughter was in second grade her teacher taught this method on top of the required spelling unit. My daughter’s teacher called it the sounds of spelling. Anyway I am thinking of buying the program so I can supplement my other children’s spelling, as foster parents we can not homeschool our foster children or I would just use this method.


  4. Debra
    December 12, 2009 | 12:56 pm

    Your pros and cons list is fabulous! I love All About Spelling, and am about to start my 4th child in it. The time commitment is by far the biggest con, but seeing as my kids are all atrocious spellers, this is an area I feel strongly about investing my time in.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I feel like this too. If it’s something the kids struggle with or something that is important to me, I don’t mind putting time into it. Isn’t that why we homeschool in the first place?


  5. Lindsay
    February 12, 2010 | 8:34 pm

    I use this for multiple grades but it does require one on one time with each student. My family is not as large as yours so right now it is still doable for me. I have seen huge improvement in my children after using this program for a few months. My oldest hated to spell and now is so confident. For my 7 year old who was convinced he couldn’t read, this program has done wonders.

    I think you need to purchase a student pack for each level but not for each child. I bought multiple packs of level 1 and saw no reason to open more than one.


  6. Katie from NC
    February 13, 2010 | 4:54 pm

    I am really interested in using this. I was a horrible speller, and feel the need to re-learn spelling. My youngest is just learning to read (5 yrs) so I’m looking into getting this for BOTH of us 😉 Thanks for the review!


  7. Jen L
    February 14, 2010 | 10:22 pm

    We began using AAS in January. I was intimidated to start it earlier in the year because of the parental involvement and an alrady full schedule. Now, I feel mush more confident in the program and feel the time (less than I thought it would be) to be well worth it. My third grader has always had phonics and gradually “learned” spelling rules but they never seemed to stick well enough to be applied. The spelling was a very weak area. She went quickly through book 1 but enjoyed it and remembers it well. I agree with your review point that the simple words allow them to learn the rules which they can apply to more complex words. We also started this (although much slower) with our k-5 student. The tiles make it so easy with a beginning writer. She loves it – so much that she loves to sit and listen to her sister’s lesson. Thank you for such a complete review. It really motivated me to follow through with our initial decision.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I’m really glad that my review encouraged you to stick with AAS. The one on one time is challenging, but my plan is to have only one or two children going through this as a time. (I would work one on one with each child.)

    As you mentioned the older ones can go through very quickly. Once they are done I envision them helping some of the younger ones. That is my plan at least.


  8. Roxann
    March 13, 2011 | 11:04 pm

    I noticed you also are using Rocket Phonics program. Reviewing the RP program it talks about learning to read a different way with there 36 sounds. Does this become confusing when teaching them how to spell with the ALL about Spelling program? Because the RP says it doesnt really teach them all the phonic rules. But in order to spell you kinda need those rules. Basically Im wondering if the RP and the ALL About Spelling program work good together or will I confuse my kids? I already am using the All about Spelling program. My 3rd grader is a horrible speller. And he has a hard time reading. So Iam wanting a better reading program for him.
    Thanks, Roxann


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Roxann,

    I used AAS with my 7 year old for this review. However, we take a whole language approach to spelling and language arts, so beyond the 6 weeks of this review we’ve not used AAS. (I was part of a program where I was required to use and review ANY curriculum that we were sent. I no longer do this and now only review things that our family is interested in or uses.)

    So, I’m not going to be much help in answering your question.

    Unless your third grader has some learning disability and without knowing more details, I suspect that your third grader just needs more time. We’ve just gone through this with two of our children and it seems that with daily practice and time everything eventually clicks.

    RP provides fun reading material for the children and progressively introduces new skills, so if that is something that you think your child needs it may be a good choice for you. However, since you did not start with RP, the new system may be confusing for your child at the beginning. It’s just one of those things you have to weigh out.


  9. Carla
    May 22, 2011 | 10:47 pm

    We have four kids and I use All About Spelling with the younger two (ages 7 and 9). My daughter was in 3rd grade this year and struggled with spelling (she did not understand why we spell things the way we do). This program has saved her! She does amazing at spelling now! She had hearing loss at a young age (since corrected) but it resulted in speech issues which made spelling an issue. I love this program. One thing I learned is that you do not have to do a lesson each day…you can do it over several days and not more on until it is mastered. I love hearing other’s reviews sicne that is what convinced me to buy it in the first place.


  10. Tonya M
    August 23, 2012 | 11:36 am

    One other con I would mention is the cost. We purchased the level 1 teacher book and student packet and I am very happy with the result. But the truth is we went through the entire level in 6 weeks. It will be at minimum another $90 to finish the next two levels. (products, plus $8 shipping and handling)
    The upper levels are rarely available on the resale market. I’ve been looking. 🙂
    We are using Phonetical Zoo (IEW) for after that level, which costs $20 for all three levels. I hope AAS will reconsider their price point or their publisher so their method can become more affordable.


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