Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
The subject my children have struggled with the most is spelling. Can anyone relate to our struggles? I would guess so! Even the children who have caught on to reading very easily are still spelling their words rather wildly, with little or no heed paid to the rules I have tried to teach them. I don’t know what the problem is, but I do know it is frustrating! Because we have such a struggle with this, I was happy to receive complimentary subscriptions to WordBuild Online from Dynamic Literacy.
There are two basic levels included: Foundations and Elements. Foundations focuses on prefixes and suffixes; Elements goes into the Greek and Latin roots that make up the English language. All three of my school children have started out in Foundations 1, although technically Mr. Sweetie, who is reading at a sixth-grade level, could have gone into Elements 1. I felt like he needed the practice with English prefixes, though.
There are 25 units in Foundations 1. Each focuses on on prefix or suffix. So far (I think they are all at about the same place), they have practiced prefixes such as over-, under-, un-, and re-, among others, and last week they were working with some suffixes, like -er and -est. I’m having each of them spend 10-15 minutes a day on these lessons, just getting through what they can in that time. I’ve been a little surprised at the lack of resistance I’ve encountered! Usually, none of them wants to do anything in the way of spelling or grammar, but all three are cheerful about doing a lesson of WordBuild Online each day.
Foundations 1 is introduced with a 2-minute video. This video presents the concepts of graphemes (the letters we write), phonemes (the sounds of the letters), and morphemes (meanings of parts of words), and teaches the meaning of prefixes and suffixes.
There are five main activities that are supposed to help cement the concept of each prefix/suffix. First, there is a short introductory video explaining what the affix means and how to use it. I’m not sure of the order of the remaining activities; one great thing about this program is that children can use it on their own, without any help from Mom, so I haven’t had to pay much attention! One activity involves matching the affix with root words and then typing in a definition of the new word. Another has them choose a sentence in which the new word is used correctly. Another has them match the words with the proper definitions.
We have been using our laptops and the iPad to do these lessons. The laptops have been the best tool, we’ve found. We have had some trouble, while using the iPad, of being sent back to the login screen when entering an answer. I haven’t been able to troubleshoot this; it could be that Little Miss accidentally hits the wrong button on the touch screen. This has never happened on a laptop.
We have not used Elements yet, of course; there are two or three Foundations levels to work through before reaching that level. A couple of the children were accidentally placed in Elements at the beginning, though, so we watched the introductory video. I found it quite interesting! It explains why English is so hard to read and spell (blame it on the Normans in 1066!). The teacher explains that we need to learn to spell English by meanings, rather than the way a word sounds. I had never thought about it that way before, but it sure makes sense!
So, the big question is always: Does this course work? Will my children know how to spell better after they complete WordBuild Online? I don’t know yet. Mr. Sweetie is convinced it won’t. He claims that there are mistakes that will keep the younger ones from learning; for him, it is too simple. He does admit that the program is “tolerable!” We haven’t used it long enough to know for sure, though. It certainly does offer more reinforcement for what I have been trying to teach them in their workbooks, and is easy enough that I will continue having them do it. This program is a welcome addition to our Language Arts repertoire, something I was needing without knowing it. And, hopefully I’ll be able to tell, in a year’s time, whether or not it helped! Be sure to click the image below to read other families’ reviews of this program.