Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review of IEW - Phonetic Zoo

For the past couple of months, I have been using the most wonderful spelling program! I received the Institute for Excellence in Writing's Phonetic Zoo in exchange for my review.  Auditioning spelling programs is almost a sickness with me, so I was delighted to get one from a company with such an amazing reputation as IEW. I chose to use the program with my seven year-old son and, after giving him the suggested placement test, found that he fit comfortably into Level B.  This level is typically recommended for grades 6-8, but my seven year-old is highly gifted, and is a natural speller.  The program has turned out to be a perfect fit for him.

The starter set for Phonetic Zoo includes the following:

• 5 audio CDs (Level C has 6 CDs)
• Spelling and the Brain and Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo DVD with the following:
    - Spelling and the Brain video seminar
    - Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo video
    - The Phonetic Zoo teacher’s notes PDF file
• Lesson Cards with all three levels of spelling words and jingles
• Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
• Zoo Cards, which serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards

The program is almost entirely self-teaching, which is another reason I love it.  Given that my son is seven, he still needs my guidance with many subjects, even though he works at an upper elementary/lower jr. high level. Any program that teaches him for me is a huge plus in my book.  Further, my son's attitude toward school is hit or miss at best.  He has never really taken to a spelling program before, and he loathes wasting his time. That lets out any program with practice worksheets or sentences, or anything of the kind.  Phonetic Zoo will not waste either yours or your child's time.  Your child will learn a phonics rule, and then view words that exemplify the rule.  He will then simply take the spelling test testing that rule until he can spell the words correctly (with one iteration per day).  The best part is that the included audio CDs do all of the talking for you, freeing you to work on other things.

Phonetic Zoo will cost you $99 the first time you use it, but the words for all three levels are included.  Thus, every other time you use it, you will only need to purchase the audio CD portion of the program.  If you prefer, though, and I have to recommend this option for anyone interested, as I really believe that this is a superior spelling product (and I've tried all of them! None of them would hold my child's interest!), IEW does offer a budget option, available here.  For $29, you can have the entire Phonetic Zoo program, minus the audio CDs. While I do love the narrator's voice (I hear it in my sleep it's so soothing), the cost savings to do without the CDs make this program affordable for everyone.

To find out more about Phonetic Zoo, visit their website, or call them at 800-856-5815.  If you know your child should be studying spelling (or phonics!), but just can't seem to find the right program, and if your child is in upper elementary or older, this option is definitely one you will want to explore!

Find out what other crew members had to say about IEW's amazing products here!

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