Wednesday, October 23, 2013

VocabularySpellingCity {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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VocabularySpellingCity offered Schoolhouse Review Crew Members a VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership to review. Having been a free member for many years of homeschooling and now a premium member for the second year in a row, I can tell you - I LOVE being a premium member of VocabularySpellingCity!

What is VocabularySpellingCity?

VocabularySpellingCity is an award-winning, online educational tool for students in grades K-12 that is primarily game-based. It specializes in the subjects of spelling, vocabulary, writing, and language arts. Schools and families can use this program.

How to Use VocabularySpellingCity

There are three ways to use this site.
  1. Non-membership: This is the most basic way to use the site. You can go directly to the site and enter spelling words, play some of the games, and take tests. You do have access to teacher resources, but you are not able to save spelling lists.
  2. Free membership: You can register free of charge and begin saving all of your spelling lists for easy access. Plus, you can play several of the games, take tests, and access teacher resources.
  3. Premium membership: You can upgrade to a Premium Membership for $29.99/year for up to 5 children. (Please see the website for classroom/school prices) Stay tuned for the benefits of becoming a premium member!
Benefits of Premium Membership

With a premium membership, there are many added benefits such as:
  • Individual student logins
  • More games and activities
  • Student progress tracking
  • Automatic test results
  • Assignment scheduling
  • No ads
  • Student and list grouping
  • Access to vocabulary content and writing activities
  • Grammar content (synonyms, antonyms, parts of speech)
  • Game and activity logs
  •  Flashcards
  • Telephone support

Why I Like Being A Premium Member

When I first started using VocabularySpellingCity many years ago, I mainly used the practice test and spelling test features. Practice tests served as study time for my kids the day before their spelling tests. That way they could really focus on any words they missed, and taking spelling tests online freed me up from having to call out words and come up with my own sentences on the spur of the moment. Sometimes my kids would play a couple of the games, but we mostly focused on our own spelling curriculum throughout the week.

Being a "free" registered member was really great, but being a premium member is even better! As a premium member, VocabularySpellingCity basically takes over the teaching part which my children prefer. We have a pretty intense spelling program that my children have never really fancied that much. I definitely don't have kids who would ever want to participate in a spelling bee, so I always get a kick out of the fact that homeschoolers are usually labeled as awesome spellers! Anyway, as a premium member, all I have to do is enter spelling words and select the assignments I wish for my children to complete. After that my work is done, and my kids can do everything on their own!

How to Use VocabularySpellingCity as a Premium Member

First, you will create login information for yourself, the teacher, and then for your children, up to 5 total. I am using this with two of my children: my daughter who is in third grade and my son who is in sixth grade. They each have their own login information - a username and a password. It is very simple for my kids to log in to the site by themselves. As my daughter would say, "It's easy-peasy-lemon-squeasy!"

Next, (after you log in) you can begin creating spelling lists which you will find by clicking the heading, List Management, in the parent toolbox in the upper right-hand corner of your homepage.
Because I have previously been a "free" member, all of the lists I have saved over the years carried over to my premium membership. I have 140 lists already saved! This is a HUGE plus since my daughter is using the same program her brothers used when they were younger.

You can enter your own spelling lists or import the ones provided by VocabularySpellingCity. For my daughter, I am currently using spelling lists from a program we use, but since my son has recently finished that program, I have started using some of the provided lists. So far I have used only the alphabetical lists for grade 6. The site provides a variety of list types that you can see in the following screen shot.

The only complaint I have about the lists I have been using so far is that there are more than 20 words per list. I personally like each spelling list to have 20 words, so I just delete extra words from the lists. Also, in the past, I have searched the internet for appropriate grade level spelling lists to use with VocabularySpellingCity.

This program will automatically provide sentences for the words on your lists, but you always have the option of changing them. I used to add some of my own for fun, but I admit, I haven't been doing that lately.

After you create or import spelling lists, you can add assignments for your children to complete throughout the week. I usually assign my sixth grader about 10 assignments per week and my third grader between 7 and 8. As shown below, you can easily create assignments in 4 easy steps!

After you select a word list you've created or imported, you are ready to choose activities. As shown below, I have selected activities for my daughter to complete. I don't save the list as a Preset because I like to choose a few different activities every week so she doesn't get bored. There are a few of the activities that I don't assign because she just isn't ready for them. I definitely give my sixth grader writing practice every week!

For the third step, you assign the list to all or some of your children. Since my children are 3 grades apart, I assign different lists. Finally, you can add specific details to the assignment. Typically, I don't have special instructions or a sequence requirement, but I do set a due date. My kids do know that they have to always start with the Teach Me activity, though, but after that, they can do the rest of the activities in any order they wish.
Other Features
*You have the option of grouping your spelling lists. I created 2 groups - one for each child using the site. Each time I create a list I put it into the appropriate group. This makes it easier to locate specific lists.
*You can personalize writing instructions and add videos to your children's assignments.
*You can keep track of your children's assignment progress and check test results at any time.
*You can also take advantage of all the teacher resources, videos, and links on the site as time allows.
VocabularySpellingCity is so much more than spelling and vocabulary words. As I said before, we've used it for years and it works great for us. If you've been looking for an affordable, online program, be sure to check them out! To read more reviews, click the banner below.
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