Posted August 26, 2013 by Amy in Books

Spelling Works (Family Fiends) Review


Finally, your and you’re get the attention they deserve.

If you’re a parent of school aged children (or can remember back to your own school days), you likely have seen the dreaded weekly spelling words list. I was a great speller, and I still hated it. There is little more boring than looking at a list of the same words over and over, with nothing to engage your interest, so getting your kids to spend the time they need to learn them is difficult. Even worse, many kids learn the words for the test, but aren’t able to apply them later on. The natural question then becomes, is the traditional way of learning spelling really the best we can do for our kids?

Jim Halverson thinks not. An experienced teacher, he has taught for decades in a well-regarded school. After noticing how many kids in his classes were getting spelling correct on the tests, but misspelling those same words when applied to writing, he decided to come up with a better way himself. Now, he’s sharing that time tested method with others with his new book, Spelling Works. It is set up to be easily used by teachers, with each section being prefaced by an explanation as to how to approach the lesson, but it could easily be applied by parents for kids who are struggling with spelling.

Each lesson begins with an easy to understand explanation of the concept being studied – these range from prefixes and suffixes to singular and plural possessives, giving a pretty well rounded grasp of proper spelling that should be required reading for the entire internet. After the explanation, kids move on to application with worksheets that directly test the concepts being learned. In a nice twist, each of the sentences used on the worksheets are part of a story, rather than the random statements that most workbooks used. This is a great way to catch kids attention, as they must work their ways through the problems to see how the story ends. After that is the fun part – mazes created by Halverson that require kids to recognize correct spelling to reach the end. There are a few hidden message games in the book. By using a fun activity to engage kids in spelling as well giving logical strategies for learning to spell even difficult words, the hope is that kids will be able to retain the knowledge longer, and apply it to all their writing.

Spelling Works makes an interesting case for throwing out rote memorization for teaching spelling, in favor of a more engaging method that teaches kids logical rules of thumb to help them reason out the proper spelling for themselves. With easy to understand explanations at the beginning of each unit, and fun to play word mazes at the end, Spelling Works is well worth trying for students who are struggling with learning to spell.


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)