Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: SpellQuizzer Spelling Programme

Several months {in fact, so many months ago I'm ashamed to admit how many} Dan H from SpellQuizzer asked if we'd be interested in reviewing his nifty little spelling programme. Considering we need spelling help around here we agreed!

First off, SpellQuizzer is a Windows based programme. That was a small hitch for us because after years and years of using windows Mr S convinced me to go Mac many moons ago. We still have the ability to use Windows in our home, but boy do I go crazy trying to remember everything! SpellQuizzer itself was very simple to use!

Let's take a look at how it works!

Once you've installed the programme on your computer and clicked on the SpellQuizzer icon you'll get a window that pops up that looks exactly like the above photo. For your first time use you'll want to click on Create a spelling list, unless you want to play with a premade spelling list. There are several spelling lists all ready in the programme that are meant for various grade levels.

Once you're ready to create a spelling list you can easily add in any words you want! Our first list was a mere six words. A few my son had been working on and an extra "bonus" word. I kept it simple as I played!

Okay, so here comes the fun part! You can actually record yourself saying the word. No, really you can. See the button in the above picture that says Start? Push that and start talking. Of course, if you have children playing in the background you might want to warn them to be quiet before you push the record button. Just a suggestion....

When I read out spelling words for my guys I generally say the word slowly in an effort to help them hear the sounds. Then I use the word in a sentence and then repeat the word but not as slowly. I recorded myself doing exactly that for each word. It was really very simple. All though for the word Some, I recorded: "Some. Some people like carrots. Some." Just before I hit the stop button I hear a little voice say, "Oh no they don't!" {For the record, said child adores carrots, but it cracked the other one up! So our recorded information for Some had "some" twittering on it too..}

Don't panic if you don't have a microphone! You can also put in a description of the word. In the picture above someone used the word radiant and then put a definition in there for it. Now, while the programme is called SpellQuizzer and works wonders for spelling practice, you could also use it for vocabulary words if you wanted! You could simply provide the definition of the word and allow your child to spell the word out.

When your child sits down with SpellQuizzer they can then listen to your voice tell them their words {or read definitions if you didn't record yourself} and then they type in the word. I was concerned about what would happen if my son spelled the word wrong. I really was. Why?  We've taken on the Charlotte Mason theory of not letting our poor speller see the words misspelled.

In other words, when we "test" him we quickly cover up misspelled words so he doesn't end up confusing himself to what is or isn't the right way to spell a particular word. Now, here's the neat part about SpellQuizzer. As soon as your child misspells a word it instantly pops up the correct spelling in green letters. Underneath that in a smaller font in red is the misspelled version.

I simply instructed my child not to pay any attention to any writing in red if an extra window popped up. I told him to concentrate instead on the green because he'd get a second chance to fix the word he spelled wrong. This worked for us. On his first run with the programme he misspelled one word and after looking at the correct spelling and then finishing the rest of his words he was capable to spell the word correctly. He then asked to do them all again and was delighted to hear much clapping and cheering at the end when he got them all right!

My Opinions: 

We had fun playing with SpellQuizzer and are grateful Dan provided us with that opportunity. The more often our poor speller works with spelling words the better he becomes. So using SpellQuizzer allows him that opportunity without having to wait on me. Independence is a very good thing.

My only con to this programme would be that I couldn't use it on the Mac side of our family desktop. It would not prevent me from purchasing the programme. I think most Mac users are use to finding that many programmes still aren't made to be used on our machines.

I love the fact that this programme did not force you to use premade lists of words. Yes, it had some but you were not forced to use them. You could create your own without any effort. This means I can create American spelling lists as well as Australian/British spelling lists. That's a big deal when your children need to know both forms! On top of that it means you can use this programme with any spelling curriculum you have {or don't have!} Loving that!

I was equally delighted to learn you can share spelling lists around with other SpellQuizzer families! Which means if you happen to hang out on a forum or in a homeschool group or whatever you and your friends can create and swap lists back and forth. Wouldn't it be fun for the kids to make the recordings for their friends? My kids had a blast making the recordings for each other. Seriously!!

Extra Information:

Okay, so if you want to now more about this nifty little programme you can go check out demo videos over on their website!

You can also pick up some of those aforementioned spelling lists that people share over on their website too, complete with sound recordings all ready made!!

They also have a Forum/Community section you can check participate in to help you get the most out of the programme!

SpellQuizzer is $29.95 and can be purchased and downloaded directly from their website. Curious, but not sure yet? You can download a free trial to play with and test for yourself!

Disclaimer: SpellQuizzer was given to us free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 

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