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Monday, October 26, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review:IEW Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level B

IEW Phonetic Zoo
Over the last several years, I have had many opportunities to review products from The Institute For Excellence in Writing.    I have been so impressed with the products I have reviewed that I have purchased many others on my own and highly recommend them to homeschoolers.  Not only do they have products that are great for students, they also offer many great resources to help parents.  I am always excited to see IEW on our vendor list and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to review Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level B Starter Set.
IEW Phonetic Zoo
Phonetic Zoo comes in 3 different levels: A, B, or C.  A placement test will guide you in choosing which level is the best fit for your child.  Phonetic Zoo is a phonics based program that teaches children spelling using animal names and jingles, hints, or rules that match the rules for spelling that list of words.  For example in lesson one the animals are caiman and manta ray and the jingle is "When a-i says a as in claim and chain, it comes in the middle as in train or pain.  But when a-y says a as in jay and portray, it comes at the end.  See decay and delay."

The Phonetic Zoo is based on Anna Ingham's Blended Sound Sight Program of Learning.  This program.  This program was developed because studies showed that students learn better when what they see is reinforced by what they hear and when what they hear is reinforced by what they see, thus blending sight and sound.  The Phonetic Zoo Spelling Program uses a multisensory approach by having students see and hear the words and rules and then have them write the words.

Phonetic Zoo Level B Starter Set ($99) comes with:

5 audio CDs (and mP3 downloads)
Lesson Cards that contains the spelling words for all 3 levels and the jingles
Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of student's misspellings
Zoo Cards to practice jingles 
Downloadable Teacher's Notes
Spelling and the Brain video seminar (link to streamable video)

Your student will need:
Paper
Pen
CD player to play audio CDs or electronic device to play mP3 files
Head phones or ear buds


There are 47 lessons in Phonetic Zoo.  For each lesson, you read the rule on the lesson card (or your student reads it if they are working independently) and your student reads and spells out loud the three words on the front of the card.  You also give the small zoo card to the student for that lesson. Students prepare their paper by numbering 1-15, writing the lesson number and the number of times the lesson has been attempted. The student listens to the lesson on the CD, takes the test and then listens to the lesson correction while correcting the words himself.  The student continues on the same lesson until they achieve mastery of that lesson by scoring 100% twice in a row.  Every 5th lesson is a personal spelling lesson.  A Final Exam is given at the end of each level. 

Once you have one level of the starter set, you have an option to purchase only audio CDs of the other levels since the words for all three levels are included on the cards.  There is also an option to purchase Phonetic Zoo as a download 

IEW also offers a budget pack of Phonetic Zoo that has just the printed materials and no Audio CDs.

There are samples for you to download here.

I was interested in using Phonetic Zoo with my 6th grade son.  He is mildly dyslexic and has had issues reading and spelling.  I have a spelling curriculum that we use and really love, but as he has gotten older, he prefers to work more independently rather than have me work with him.  He learns best by hearing and doing so when I saw the description for Phonetic Zoo I knew it would be perfect for him.  I had him take the placement test which recommended Level B.

I was very impressed with the curriculum when it arrived.  The cards are made of a thick card stock and are very sturdy.  When you read the description of a Phonetic Zoo using animals on the cards you may get the impression that it is babyish.  This is not at all true.  The drawings are in black and white and not at all cartoonish or babyish.  The jingles help the students remember the rules.  The process of listening to the words, writing them down, and self correcting has really helped Alex become a better speller.  He has been completing one lesson per week, achieving mastery on the lists by the end of the week.  He loves being able to work independently and it makes life easier on me as well.

As part of the Phonetic Zoo Starter set, you have access to a streaming video called Spelling and the Brain, a talk given by Andrew Pudewa.  This video is a little over an hour long.  This is one of those helpful parent resources I referred to earlier.  Andrew Pudewa is a great speaker, very easy to listen to.  This video will give you a lot of helpful information about spelling and the brain and why auditory input is more helpful in teaching spelling then visual input.  He also talks about how information is stored in the brain and how it is retrieved. This talk is more than worth the hour investment.  

To see what my Crew Mates had to say about Phonetic Zoo, Timeline of Classics, Teaching With Games, and A Word Right Now from IEW, stop by the Crew Blog!
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