Tag Archives: Phonics Curriculum

Phonetic Zoo Review

Do your kids struggle with spelling?  Most kids do because the way sounds are spelled in the English language can be confusing.  If you want your kids to become great spellers, you might want to check out The Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

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The Phonetic Zoo

Levels A, B, or C.
Take the placement test and choose the right level for your child before you begin.

Grades 3 – 8

Retails for $99.00

Each Phonetic Zoo Starter Set includes:

  • 5+ audio CDs (includes MP3 downloads)
    or also available for purchase as MP3 downloads and no CDs
  • Lesson Cards with spelling words and jingles
  • Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
  • Zoo Cards that serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
  • 75 page Downloadable Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes PDF file

In addition to the materials, you are encouraged to watch two videos to help you as the parent / teacher:  the “Excellence in Spelling” video and the “Spelling and the Brain Video Seminar”.

Each Lesson in The Phonetic Zoo has similar steps:

  • Phonetic Rule, Cards with Corresponding Zoo Animal, Jingle or Hint,
  • Discussion,
  • Word Lists (audio and print), Spelling Test, and Correction.

You move through the lessons at the pace set by your child.  Each lesson takes about 10 minutes and they will learn a phonetic rule, have discussion built into the lesson, and learn to master spelling 15 to 20 new words using the rule they have learned.

It is suggested to go as slow as, or as fast as it takes for your student to get a 100% score two times on a lesson to show they have mastered the material.  So a lesson may only take you two days, if your child can get 100% each time, or a lesson may take you 7 or 10 days.  Just keep repeating the material for 10 minutes a day, until they have mastered the given lesson twice before moving ahead to the next lesson.  If you taught the same lesson and did the same spelling words for 4 or 5 days each week, then start a new lesson the following week, program should last you the full school year.  But again, the key is to remain flexible and allow your student to progress at their own pace.

How we used Phonetic Zoo:

We were sent the Phonetic Zoo Level A Starter Set for the purpose of this review.  Level A contains 47 Lessons on 5 Audio CD’s (or MP3) ; large zoo rule and word cards, small flashcards, and the Teacher’s Notes e Book also includes all of the lessons, teaching notes, the final exam, printable word posters, zoo card pages, word lists and printouts.

I decided to write this story as a series of HOW TO steps.  WHY?  Because it helped me and it might help you too.   You can follow these steps too to help make sense of what you need to do, what your child needs to do to complete this wonderful program.  It is different than other spelling programs, and I think it may help you to see some steps we took to make it successful for us.  It is divided into two sets of steps: “Prep”, and “Lessons”.

Prep

Step 1:  I watched the 9 minute “Excellence in Spelling” video.

Step 2:  We took the  FREE Placement Test.  This is a great resource and helps your child start right where they need too.  There are three levels to this program: Level A,  Level B, and Level C.  You will want to place your child in the right level so they can be successful.

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Step 3:  Placed my order for the correct level (A, B, or C) of Phonetic Zoo my student needed based on what we learned from the results of the free placement test (see the red link above). We ordered Level A.

Step 4: Watched the 1 hour Spelling and The Brain video seminar.   You can wait for the product to arrive before you watch the video, or you can get jump started while you are waiting by watching this video now!

Step 5:  Organize my Zoo (my materials for Phonetic Zoo).

Have you ever heard the saying “not my monkeys, not my zoo” ?  Well in this case these are my monkeys and this is my zoo.

We are homeschooling 6 kids and it is so easy for the shelves and stacks of books and supplies to get messy and piled up fast (see the example behind him,  that shelf holds math manipulatives, crayons, pencils, flash cards, and notebooks and the kids get in a hurry and when they are done using them, they just shove their stuff in fast and go, and it quickly becomes a mess).  Since we were about to enter the Phonetic Zoo, and knowing how fast books and supplies can go missing or stacked in the wrong place in “our zoo”, it is best to set my self up for success,  be a good “zoo keeper”, and get my self organized!

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When you receive your Phonetic Zoo shipment, organize the kit you receive and your supplies (large and small zoo cards, CD’s, headphones, notebook, pens NOT pencils (or use a pencil without the eraser), etc.),  in an easy to access storage box (shoe box, milk crate, table organizer, book basket, shelf, or whatever works for your family, etc.).

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Put a metal ring (or use a clip) on the large cards, and a rubber band (or a baggy) around the small cards.

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Be sure you have a computer that can play an audio CD (or MP3 device), and it is helpful to have headphones (we have ear buds) for your student to use while listening to the CD’s (or MP3).

Step 6: PRINT out the Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes  e-Book (Teacher’s Guide) from the link on the IEW website you are provided with after making your purchase, and put your teacher’s guide into a binder.  This is a 70+ page teaching resource you will want to keep handy.  You can also download the MP3 files of the CD’s and store them on your computer device too.

Teacher's Notes e-Book

Teacher’s Notes e-Book, Phonetic Zoo Level A

Step 6:  Yahoo!  We let out a shout and smacked ourselves on the back!  Great Job!  We finished our prep work and were ready to get started!

Lessons:

In this section, I will walk you through Lesson 1.  It may look like a lot, but each lesson only takes about 10 minutes a day.

Step 1: We got out our zoo supply basket we made.  This was so nice to have everything all together and ready.  I read through our first lesson in the Teacher’s Notes that I also keep in the basket with everything.

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Lesson 1, Phonetic Zoo Level A

Step 2: I read the phonetic rule from the lesson and provided him with the large zoo flash card to review. The rule is listed on the back, and on the front are a picture that corresponds with the rule and words to practice using the rule.  It is a nice way to practice going over the rule and remembering it.

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Step 3:  Next I gave him the small flash card to read.  It has the rule we just learned on one side and the zoo animal on the other side.  He can use this to remind himself about the rule we learned.IMG_1212 - Copy

Step 4:  He set out his paper to write on, set out his flash cards, put in the CD for Lesson 1, and his ear buds.   When he started the lesson, on the screen popped up a small box that controls the lesson.   The lesson is all audio (not a visual lesson) and requires him to listen closely to what is being said on the CD.

Step 5: My son numbered the lines on his paper from 1 to 19 (some lessons were to 18 and some were to 19).  You can pause the CD lesson as needed.  If you don’t want to print out your own numbers, there is a pre-numbered printable you can keep re-printing for your student to use for each lesson.  We just used a spiral bound notebook instead.

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Step 6:  Next he wrote out the words in the spelling test spoken by the instructor on the CD.

Step 7: Next he corrected his words on the list by writing a second column of the same words on the same lines next to the first words he wrote.    The correct words are both on the CD and on the zoo flashcards.  This process allowed him to see how he did and where he needed more practice.   The instructions from the curriculum are that he must receive two 100% scores on the material before he can proceed to the next lesson.

Step 8:  Personal Spelling.  We repeated the same steps for every 4 lessons BUT on the 5th lesson (lessons 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 47) we were instructed to use his favorite words he picked himself.  These words could come from each section of 4 lessons, or be other words he wanted to use.

Step 9:  Final Exam.  We have not completed this yet.

That is it in a nut shell.  10 minutes a day.  Master the spelling test by 100% twice then move forward to the next lesson.  BOOM!!!

I am excited about using this spelling curriculum with my kids.  For the purpose of this review, I started this program with my 5th grade son.  But now that we have used it and know how simple it is and how much confidence he feels from mastering this technique, I will be using it with my other children as well.  This will give them all the added confidence in knowing how to spell a variety of words, and it only cost them 10 minutes of their day.  WOW!  I wish everything could be accomplished in 10 minutes a day.  Maybe it can and I just need to see a new perspective on how it can be done, just like mastering spelling.  Definitely worth it for both of us.

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Institute for Excellence in Writing makes learning fun and easy.  IEW has a way of making Language Arts skills easy and interesting to kids, those very skills that kids might otherwise find hard or boring.  Kids develop an internal motivation to challenge themselves and reach their achievable goal.  They have developed simple systems of teaching parents and teachers how kids really learn effectively and their materials are top notch.  I would encourage you to check out how you can fit these wonderful curriculum resources into your homeschool learning.

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IEW Review

Check out what others on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using The Phonetic Zoo and other products from IEW with their families.

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