A City’s Worth Of Vocabulary And Spelling (review)
We’ve been using an old favorite as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew this year, with a slightly different focus than we have in the past. This time around, we’re focusing on the vocabulary tools on VocabularySpellingCity, but as you’ll soon see, there’s something for everyone on this online site.
VocabularySpellingCity offers two levels of membership, a Basic one utilizing just their existing word lists, and a Premium membership, where parents can customize lists to match any curriculum, need, or interest for their students. The Basic and VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership options are compared on the Premium page, while a detailed list of all activities is also available.
VocabularySpellingCity has a little bit of something for all ages, K-12 – and depending on the need, adults might well find some activities of use. For pre- and early-readers, two I’d recommend would be Read-A-Word and Missing Letter. Read-A-Word, which asks students to choose, from 4, the word spoken aloud, is ideal for practicing both word recognition and words that cannot be “sounded out” properly. While Missing Letter can be used with any word list, it seems especially effective on shorter, no more than 5-6 letter words.
The printable Handwriting Practice sheets are highly flexible, with a choice of print, cursive, D’Nealian, and even a sign language option – and since the parent can create any list of words, they can be as simple – or as highly specific – as they need to be. (I’ve used them for creating “name” sheets, for example.)
Once students are working on regular spelling lists, having worked past that beginner stage, is when the full impact of VocabularySpellingCity really comes into play. There are so many options for practice of word lists that there is greatly decreased opportunity for boredom – this is not the “write the word three times, then write it in a sentence” that teachers resorted to when I was a kid. Plus, many are presented as games – so the initial reaction from kids is “Fun!” not “Ugh, spelling.”
Middle and high school students can take advantage of already-prepared lists such as SAT words, or parents can enter their own. Because it’s so customizable, it’s easy to incorporate it as an add-on to whatever spelling curriculum you’re already using, if it includes upper-level words and vocabulary. Or, just use it for the vocabulary option – which, in my opinion, is where it really shines for the older student. (And like I mentioned previously – this would apply to adults, too, not just teens – even if someone is already a confident speller, there’s always room for vocabulary improvement. There are simply too many words in the English language for any of us to have a perfect command of it.)
This a tool that has been a regular part of our homeschool experience over the years. The younger kids, especially, enjoy the wide variety of games, and for me, once the lists are set up and scheduled, there isn’t much more to do except log in and view their progress and scores.
My only wish is that list entering were just a tad more user friendly – updating this part of the website would really make it a pleasure to use, all the way around. (I think I’ve just gotten spoiled with all the Web 2.0-type stuff, where it’s generally easy to enter lists, simply by typing and pressing return after each entry.) Let me repeat – it’s not bad or awkward, by any means – I just daydream of the day when all I have to do is *think* the list at the computer and it will be there. Now, someone manages to do that with lesson planning, please, by all means, let me know. :)
The available activities are:
Spelling TestMe (free)
Spelling Test Me is a way for students to take both practice and actual tests online. The purpose is to gauge student’s skill at spelling words correctly. Each word is read, used in a sentence, and then read again. The student types the word, presses enter, and hears the next work.
Vocabulary Test Me (premium)
Vocabulary TestMe allows students to take an online test consisting of English vocabulary words. Improved vocabulary helps a student with both reading comprehension and writing tasks.
Spelling TeachMe (free)
Spelling TeachMe is a way for students to teach themselves their spelling words without any outside help. When a word is clicked, it is read aloud, then spelled, then used in a sentence, then read a second time.
Flash Cards (premium)
With Flash Cards (that talk) students can study spelling and vocabulary words, learning definition, parts of speech and additional topics. Flash cards may be customized as to what details are shown on the reverse of the card.
Word Search (free)
Word Search is a customized word search puzzle for each and every spelling list. Students will enjoy the fun of a puzzle while learning their spelling words. Simply click at one end of a word, drag the loop to the other, then release the mouse button.
Audio Word Match (free)
Much like a typical concentration or memory game, audio word match will have students search for matching words from their list. This allows them a visual, seemingly hands-on approach to recognizing the spelling of the words on their list.
With HangMouse, students will play the traditional game of hangman in an interactive manner, using the words from their spelling or vocabulary lists. A fun way to practice spelling those words!
Missing Letter (free)
An online game for even the youngest children, the challenge with Missing Letter is to determine what letter is absent from the spelling word from their list.
Word Unscramble (free)
Click and drag to sort out the letters to each of the words in your spelling list, learning how to spell them as a benefit. This puzzle is also available as a printable.
Listen to the spoken word, both by itself and as used in a sentence. If the answer is correct, great! You’ve added to Mount Spellmore. If not, Test-N-Teach will show you the correct spelling, and give you another opportunity later.
A different sort of unscrambling game, WordFind challenges you to find all the smaller words that are present in the letters of your list words. Hints are available to alternate between definitions and sentences.
Use your arrow keys in this challenge, as you try to catch the dripping letters, spell the word, and earn points. Catch healthy snacks for the mouse and get a bonus! Beware, hazards abound – the wrong letter, cat paws, and even mousetraps and poison will take points away! Can you get a high score?
Are you the fastest at typing your spelling words? Practice typing AND spelling at the same time, and see if you can get a high score!
Sentence Writing Practice (premium)
Parents can customize the instructions on this page, asking students to use each word on the given list in a sentence. When a student has completed the assignment, they may make a PDF, ready to print out and hand in.
Paragraph Writing Practice (premium)
Similar to Sentence Writing Practice, personalized instructions may be added, asking students to use as many – or all – of the given list words as desired, in a piece of writing as the teacher directs. Printable PDF format also available in this activity.
MatchIt Sentences (premium)
Choose the word that correctly fills in the given sentence. Be careful! For some sentences, there may be more than one similar answer – so you’ll have use the process of elimination to determine the correct choices.
MatchIt Definitions (premium)
Similar to MatchIt Sentences, students choose the definition that is most appropriate for the word given. Again, there may be similar words and meanings, so proceed with caution. This is excellent practices for testing!
Which Word? Sentences (premium)
Choose from four possible answers to correctly fill in the blank with a list word. An alternative format to MatchIt Sentences, this narrows down the options a little bit, so it’s not quite as tricky.
Which Word? Definitions (premium)
A companion to Which Word? Sentences, Definitions offers the same gentler matching opportunity in comparison with the MatchIt Activity.
Styled as a games show, this activity ask students to identify words in a variety of methods, including their definitions, synonyms, antonyms, or sentence context.
For beginning and early readers, Read-A-Word reads the word aloud to the student, asking them to identify which word it is from a group of four. A sentence will also be read, so that the student can hear the word in context.
Drag and drop your word list in Alphabetize, sorting them out into correct alphabetical order. Submit when you’re ready and see if you’re correct.
Make a printable handwriting practice sheet, converted to PDF for ease of printing.
Sentence Unscramble (free)
This one can be a challenge! Instead of sorting out the letters in a word, you’ll be sorting out an entire sentence that one of the list words was used in! Letters will be red so long as they remain in an incorrect location, turning white when they’re in the right place.
Custom crosswords, no hard work needed on the parent’s part! Words will be used in a crossword, and the clues given will be the matching content from the word list, whether it be sentence, definition, etc. If you need a little help, the Hint button will show you just one letter in the selected word.
Parts of Speech (premium)
Very similar in style to the two Which Word? games, Parts of Speech gives the student a sentence with an underlined word. The student is then expected to choose the correct part of speech. It’s a great way to practice identifying nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and other parts of speech.
A basic account is free at VocabularySpellingCity, but the price is right to purchase a premium membership at just $29.99 per family for up to five students. Truly for all ages, VocabularySpellingCity is a great way to practice everything from the very first spelling words to SAT vocabulary.