The first year that I followed Susan Wise Bauer's advice as found in The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, I bought all the necessary books (she lists crucial texts and then extras). She listed Spelling Workout as the way to go with spelling instruction. So, it went in my cart and my daughter and I went through it in first grade. Then I started looking ahead to our future with that workbook series and got nervous. When I had four kids using 2 workbooks a year (one each semester) my annual total for Spelling alone would be $92, even if the price never rose. What!

Then I began to look at nonconsumable spelling texts. I bought some school textbooks for spelling (5 of them) for .25 each at the library. There seemed to be a gap, though, from where we left Spelling Workout and where the texts began. Finally, after lots of comparison shopping at Rainbow Resource I settled on Natural Speller. I used it for all of second grade and have been pleased with it. It lists words in groupings by sound or sight pattern. The lists are broken down into grade levels. There is parent instruction for the first 3 pages on how to go about teaching spelling. There are four pages of activities to use when practicing spelling. In addition, there are sections on grammar skills, spelling rules, homophones etc., foreign words, and word roots. Its really a great resource for the price, and is an excellent choice for families with more than one child.

Some things to think about: When considering curriculum for your homeschool, remember that because something is the same as what a public school uses, doesn't mean it is good. Spelling Workout is very much like what you find in schools, utilizing fill-in-the-blanks, word puzzles, and other methods that lend themselves to worksheets.

On the other hand, and equally true, remember that being different than what a public school offers doesn't ensure it is better. Natural Speller is a method that requires discipline, self-control, and creativity. You need to ensure the words are being learned. You can't just see that your child has filled in the blanks of their workbook and then move on to the next lesson. Their education rests in our hands. It's a big responsibility to ensure that they are getting a good one!

I compared Natural Speller to at least 3 other curriculums when I decided to move from Spelling Workout. It's a lot of work to invest the time. Unlike teachers at a big school, we have a vested interest in the success of our students. We don't want to use a method without some thought being put into it, to ensure it matches our philosphy, our kids, and our pocketbook.

I'm so pleased you are utilizing Classical Curriculum!
Teresa (Tracy) Dear


  1. Thanks for your review! I'm looking for a spelling curriculum for 1st grade to use next year. My friend whose children are a year ahead of my oldest didn't like the Spelling Workout books, so I'm in search of alternatives. Thanks again. :)

  2. We are using Spelling Workout now and I am pretty disappointed with it. It's too rote for my gifted learner. He is an avid reader with a large vocabulary, and even getting the higher workbook, it's just too easy.

  3. Thanks for your review. I use to be a teacher until I became a stay at home mom. So your comment about teachers in a big school not being invested is not true. Homeschool moms often think they are better than other by making those comments. Many teachers are given a curriculum and work hard to make it fit the needs of each student and Hoe they learn. They too want all their children to succeed. You should be more careful in making comments like that.

    1. I find it humorous that you did the very thing that you are criticizing the author for "homeschool moms often think they are better than other..." How do you know this?? I have read a lot of homeschool blogs over the past 5 years while homeschooling my children and I don't recall seeing any homeschool mom state something like that. Homeschooling my own children has made me very sensitive to the teachers out in the public schools that have to put up with the bureaucracy of the state (and fed) governments. They are expected to teach to standards but not given the proper materials. So, I'm sorry I disagree. I don't feel better than any other teachers (or anyone for that matter). I feel blessed to get to do what I do and would love to learn some tricks from teachers (home or public) that have been doing it a lot longer.