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    A Year of Spelling: Sequential Spelling in Review

    May 7, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    It has been a little over a year since we started our spelling program. {I have loved this curriculum, by the way.} We should be done with this level about now, but since I don’t do spelling five days per week, we are only three-fourths of the way through. It’s been going well, but recently my son has started rebelling during spelling.

    Note: None of what I am about to write is to be taken as an excuse for his behavior. He was sufficiently scolded for his attitude problem.

    However, comma.

    Sequential Spelling 1I did begin to wonder: What’s the deal? Why does he suddenly hate spelling?

    So then, I did something really profound logical obvious: I paid attention.

    I realized that whereas when we first began this was all a challenge for him, now…well…not so much. Probably 95% of it is a breeze for him.

    I remember what it was like to have a teacher “teach” you something you already knew: b.o.r.i.n.g.


    I decided to spend the next few days “quizzing” my son. We started this afternoon, and for some reason he loved it. Perhaps he felt like it was a chance to show me what he knew. What I am planning to do is to fly through the book, marking any word families with which he seems to be unfamiliar. Then, we will return and use the regular method to learn only those families that he cannot spell on his own.

    At this point, I am trying to decide whether I should purchase the additional spelling books {Sequential Spelling 2, Sequential Spelling 3, etcetera} or whether I should just purchase the book The Patterns of English Spelling v 1 as a quick reference and try to create his lessons on my own. My biggest issue with the latter is that even though my firstborn is taking these leaps through spelling, I have no guarantee that my other children will do so, and do I really want to have to go back and buy the additional spellers anyhow? This is what I am asking myself.

    Are any of you using Sequential Spelling? How’s it working out for you?

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  • Reply Rachel August 16, 2016 at 2:49 am

    Hello. I know this is an old post but maybe you still respond to them. 🙂 I was under the impression that the method of teaching spelling in a CM education was through dictation of beautiful and/or thought-provoking passages. The student would be given a passage to study and once they believed they could spell all the words correctly (along with correct grammar) then I would read it to them and they would write it as their “spelling test.” I guess I am wrong about that?? So do you do dictation AND a spelling curriculum? Thanks!

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts May 19, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Brian, Thank you so much for your comment and your helpful hints! I will definitely check out all that you suggested, and I am pretty sure I’ll be buying The Patterns of English Spelling for the fall. Thanks again!

  • Reply Brian McCabe May 19, 2010 at 7:45 am

    You definitely needn’t buy all the levels if your child is becoming bored with the repetition. Some children need it, and some children don’t (or like yours, they just need it for a little bit to allow them to see the patterns, and then they can do it by themselves).

    See these links on our webpage for tips on how to create your own custom curriculum:

    And, you can always use our free curriculum consultation:


    Brian McCabe

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts May 11, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    So…to those of you who are ahead of me in SS, I ask: Did you go ahead and buy all six SS books? Was it worth it? I am trying to consider the monetary investment and whether it pays off. Do you think that the one book that shows all word families would be a better investment?

    I am not against spending more if it is actually worth it.

  • Reply Mystie May 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I used SS sporadically this year; my SS user is first-grade, and I considered spelling an extra/optional subject for first grade, so it was the first to get dropped on bad or busy days. Also, 25 words was too much writing for my first grader, so we only did half a lesson at a time. We’re only at day 25 now at the end of the year, but the pattern approach did help my son see how to figure out spelling, I think.

    I’ll keep alert for the signs of it becoming too easy next year; thanks for the heads-up. I am starting to think that watching and thinking is the parent-teacher’s primary duty.

  • Reply Jean in Wisconsin May 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    My son benefited so much by using SS, but he got to the point where I needed to move him into a more traditional spelling program that challenged him more. Once he seemed to have gotten a method of learning to spell into his head, he could learn to spell using other programs as well. He is mildly dyslexic, btw.

    I don’t even know how I found your blog this morning…I followed a link from one blog to the next and ended up here talking about SS. My SS user is now 17 and spells as well as anyone else in the family. 🙂

    Enjoy the journey.

  • Reply Corinne May 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I too love Sequential Spelling, and when we used it (my youngest is 15), I came accross the same issues. We did oral quizzing (the words, spelling rule reminders, homonyms, etc.)to speed it along until we came to words they struggled with. I think you are on the right track. 🙂

  • Reply Phyllis May 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I am using Sequential spelling and it has improved my son’s spelling a lot. He also complained about it, so I started going through it more quickly by taking out the words that he gets right, and just going through it at a quicker pace. We also do not do spelling every day, so it works out that I have ended up doing the whole book in one year doing spelling about 3X a week. If I had one complaint about the program, it would be that it goes a bit TOO slowly. It does work, however, so I am sticking with it.just modifying the method. Hope this helps you.

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