All About Spelling and Reading – A Review

Sometime last fall, I had to give up using Ordinary Parent’s Guide... for reading.  It worked like a charm for Ian.  But his twin, who was allowed to go at his own pace, was still struggling.  He was starting to loathe reading time.  I had to admit that the time for teaching diligence was over and the time for preventing Sam from hating books was upon us.

So I played around with different options and, as is my nature, I researched the issue to death.  I finally settled on All About Spelling. But I bought it as a phonics and language arts program, not for spelling.  It felt a bit risky.  Ooo, danger and excitement in a homeschooling post?  Unheard of!


Per instructions, we started at Level 1, even though it begins with basic “this letter makes this sound” sort of stuff.  Instead of learning short and long vowel sounds, though, we learned the phonograms of each letter.  Still memorization and chanting, but of phonograms.  I think this way works better.


Sam responded well to the built-in visual cues of progress in the program, like the sticker chart, moving spelling words or phonogram cards from review to “Mastered.”  (Sam called them “Masterpiece,” my little artiste!)

As we moved through the book, there would be a box at the end of the lesson that said, “If you’re doing All About Reading, your child can now read stories X and Y from their reader.”

In addition to the basic curriculum, I bought the hardcover companion books.  They are short little stories written to coincide with the lessons in the program.  The books are illustrated (something I used to think was a bad idea), but they are black and white pictures, so it’s not overly BRIGHT and DISTRACTING!!

Sam loved that there were only a few sight words to learn before he could read a whole story.  Because he’s such a visual learner, the pictures were helpful for keeping his interest.  What I’ve found (with both Sam and now Adam) is that they may be able to guess a few words from the pictures, but I will always catch them if they’re not really reading.  The pictures are just vague enough to require the words.  Perfect.

An aside:  the books are expensive, but they were necessary for me to use the program as a reading program. And now that I’ve used them, I think they were money well spent.  I bought them one at a time, or as I caught them on sale.  They’ve held up well.  And they’re easily recognizable as school books, so we haven’t left them out or lost them yet.

Sam quickly moved through Level 1 and onto Level 2.  We both enjoyed doing the lesson together.  I learned as much as he did, including certain spelling rules I never understood before.  (Our favorite:  C says “s” before e, i, or y.  All the other times, it says “k.”  Who knew?)

I also realized the major gaps in Sam’s understanding of phonics and how words are built.  We fixed them quickly and, as his confidence grew, so did his reading ability.

Just this week, he started working his way through his first Bobbsey Twins book.  His brother has been reading them four at a time for months, so Sam is standing a little taller just carrying his book around.  He’s going a lot slower than Ian does, but he’s reading, y’all. And I can hear his “sounding it out” ability improving every single day.  Now he can convert all of the individual sounds to a familiar word much quicker.


I’ve decided to start adding Ian into our lessons and actually doing it as Spelling with the twins.  Ian is playing catch-up to learn some of the rules Sam already learned, but he’ll pick it up in no time.  And I’m already seeing some holes in Ian’s spelling and reading that will benefit from this program.  I think it’s going to work well for us this next year.

In the meantime, I also began teaching Adam how to read.  I started from the very beginning of Level 1 again, only at a much slower pace.  It took him awhile to learn all the phonogram sounds, but as soon as he did, it was no time at all before he was spelling entire words.  My little wiggly, kinesthetic boy can spell like a champ!  It was super easy for him to switch from spelling to reading the words.  And he’s very proud that he can already read whole “chapters” from the All About Reading readers.


My goal with teaching my kids to read was always to cater to the different learning styles I knew they possessed.  Ordinary Parents Guide did this, but in small ways.  The curriculum didn’t FORCE me to use letter magnets to teach if I didn’t want to. I never wanted to.  But I needed to.

All About Spelling makes teaching a breeze AND requires that we do all of the fun letter tiles, card reviewing, syllable labeling, and other fun visual cues to help my kids really learn.  (We put our first “rule-breaker” word in “jail” the other day.  We actually took the card (with an outlaw on it) and put it on top of a paper that said “jail.”  Such a small thing, but my boys still know exactly which word is the “bad guy.”)  But the program is set up to make it super easy for a busy mama like me to make it through the lessons with no prep.  It’s all there, it’s all put together.  I just have to show up.  THAT I can do.

And just so you don’t think it’s all fun, learning, and perfect syllables around here, I figured I’d better show you The Truth:  my kids perch on baby food boxes to write their spelling words while their sisters crawl around my ankles and whine.


Glamorous as always!

This isn’t a paid advertisement and nobody asked me to write this.  And we bought our own products.  The end.

Affiliate links included as of 1/8/12.



  1. Girl, this came in perfect time. I just finished researching All About Spelling this afternoon. So glad to hear it got rave reviews from Vitafam!!!!

  2. Did you need a student pack for each student or were you able to make do with one for your whole crew? Thanks!

  3. Karrie says:

    Hmm. Already planning on using this for spelling. Will have to rethink if I need the readers or not. Great to read a “real” review.

  4. LoraLynn says:

    Jenn – Because of the way the system works, each child’s progress is marked by how they use the cards (when they need to review a card it goes in one place,when they master it, it goes in another) so it would be difficult for children to share if you used their system. However, since Sam and Ian are now going to go at the same pace, they are going to share a student pack. I bought Adam his own student pack. It was 15 bucks. I would have spent that much on any spelling workbook.

  5. Glad to know this works! I didn’t know I had trouble reading until I reached highschool, especially since it was more textbook-y reading. It turns out, the reason I was having trouble is because my eyes were not working together! I had to go through Vision Theraphy to fix it and it worked! 🙂 Let me know how the rest of it goes!?

  6. I have two comment/questions for you this morning. 🙂

    1. Could you please put a little something on the side with the kids’ ages for us over tired moms who can’t remember how old our own kids are?

    2. Have you researched Shurley English? The phonics and other grammar rules in that program are phenomenal. My kids use it at school, it’s all scripted out as well. As my Toby (6) is reading things I hear him quoting out the rules he’s learned about why c says “k” or “s”. Just a thought, although may not be needed since you found this other curric!

  7. LoraLynn says:

    Tara – My twins are 7, Adam is 5, Ellen is 4, Willa is 2, and Mira is 1. I have looked at Shurley, but we’re going to use Easy Grammar this year. Want to make sure they’ve really got the reading stuff down before I complicate matters with more grammar work. But it’s on my list for future years!

  8. This is great!! I’ve been using Ordinary Parents Guide to teach my twins to read and they’re doing well, although one is several lessons behind and had to go at a much slower pace. But I have been thinking about using All About Spelling for their spelling next year and also the All About Reading preschool for my little boy. It is wonderful to read this review…exactly what we need!

  9. All About Spelling sounds like a great program.Thanks for sharing!

  10. “I had to admit that the time for teaching diligence was over and the time for preventing Sam from hating books was upon us.”

    This is us, with my 7-year-old twin girls. One is doing great, absorbs the lessons from Ordinary Parent’s and runs with it. The other is starting to hate reading lessons, so I’ve been hunting for other options. I’m a reader and I’d HATE for my daughter to grow up disliking books!!! I will be looking into All About Spelling and Reading! Thanks, LL!

    (Btw, LOVE your posts about keeping it real. I’m homeschooling and have two 7 year olds, a 5 year old, a 2.5 year old and a 5 month old. I’m right there with ya on the crazy!)

  11. As someone who teaches phonemic awareness, YAY!!!!! This is an awesome way to teach it. Not only can kids decode better, but they’re awesome spellers too. I love phonemes!

  12. Another program to look at is Preventing Academic Failure. They have an amazing program.

  13. This is by far the most detailed review I’ve read of this product. Thank you! I love how interactive it is. I was wondering, though, if anyone knows how this compares to A Beka phonics and spelling. It’s the method I’m using now and it seems to be working just fine but didn’t know if this program was worthy of a switch.

  14. jen in al says:

    Great review! about how long does it take to teach each day? thanks Jen in al

  15. jen in al says:

    BTW, do you mind sharing where you found the books on sale? jen in al

  16. LoraLynn says:

    Jen in al – It takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes per kid. Sometimes less, sometimes a tad more. I haven’t had much success finding All about stuff on sale. I think Mamas tend to hold onto it. But I haven’t really looked too hard because I needed the books about the time they released them. You might have more luck now. Try paperback swap, abe books, or a homeschool exchange.

  17. Would you humor me with more detail, please? My first AAS book arrived and it has 24 lessons. Do you do a lesson a day, a lesson a week, or the same lesson every day for an entire week? I see the instructions are to repeat as necessary, but I’m unsure of whether that’s within one day’s lesson time or every day until mastered. Thanks so much for the practical help!

  18. LoraLynn says:

    Jenn – It depends on what your purpose is and your child. For my 5yo who is learning to read with it, we go much slower. We’ll probably do two lessons a week, more or less depending on how quickly he wants to move. I have him scheduled for phonics four times a week, but I don’t schedule out how far we’ll go in each lesson. I go until his attention span is waning or until we come to a good stopping point. Or until the baby plays in the toilet, whichever comes first. When I was using it to help my son who already “knew” how to read, we went through the lessons much faster, until we hit something he didn’t know and then we’d slow it down a bit. With my twins, I’ve scheduled them to do spelling three times a week and we’ll take two days to do the lesson and then I’ll test them the third day. So they’ll get through a lesson a week. Hope that helps!

  19. That does help! Thanks so much for spelling it out for me! 🙂


  1. […] and helped me to only get the spoon as far as my eyelashes. I taught Adam to read with AAS Level 1 (my review here) but when All About Reading came out, I decided to make the switch for he and […]

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