TOS Crew Review: Vocabulary Spelling City

Interestingly, the last review I did was also for vocabulary, but this one is for the younger set as well. Company Information: Vocabulary Spelling City is an online subscription program whose mission is "efficient game-based literacy skills using any word list." Teachers can input their own vocabulary and/or spelling lists, which then are used in learning games, crossword puzzles, etc. These games can be played online or printed out. Parents and teachers can save the word lists, create assignments for their students and track the kids' progress. Other services provided with this program include free handwriting worksheets, teacher training videos, lesson plans for teaching analogies, contractions, etc., teaching resources and more.

If you are not currently doing a vocabulary or spelling program, the site comes with pre-made lists that you can use to develop your own spelling program for your children. These lists are available from 1st -8th grade. There are also words by category, subject, homophones, Dolch sight words, and so forth.

Product Reviewed: I received a one-year premium family subscription to the site, which is good for five children.

Price: $29.99 per year. One of the benefits of premium membership is that you can enjoy it ad-free. This can be helpful if your child is easily distracted or if you do not want them exposed to unwanted advertisement. However, you can try some of the features of the site for free if you want to try it out first. Alternately, if you are a teacher or school, check this page for rates.

Age Range: Grade school and up

Parental Preparation: I first had to set up an account for myself as the teacher, as well as one for Matthew, which was not too difficult to do. I already had a vocabulary program that Matthew has been working through. Instead of doing an entirely different list, I simply input his 15 words, named the list, and then selected the games I wanted him to play.

How We Used It: As I mentioned, I didn't want to add another list of words to Matthew's plate, so I used the words we were already studying in the Wordly Wise workbook. I had noticed that simply going through the list and reading it wasn't really helping the words to stick so after we went through the word list for the week once, I had him start playing the games. This, along with the workbook exercises, helped him to become more comfortable with the words.

 Once I input the words, they can used both as spelling words as well as vocabulary words. As we are using another spelling program, I focused on the vocabulary games. The games we used were the Definition Match-it, Sentence Match-it, Which Word, Sentence Unscramble, Word-o-Rama (a game-show type game), and several spelling games that used the words. The games were self-explanatory and relatively simple to figure out. After we played around with it together, he was able to figure out how to do it on his own without too much trouble. He played about 2-3 games on his assignment list, and then did some workbook exercises. This made up his vocabulary lesson for the day, about 20 minutes altogether. We were able to use this with three weeks of word lists.

What We Liked: When I went through the last reading exercise in the workbook with him at the end of the week as I usually do, he seemed to be much more comfortable with the words and did not have to look back at the definitions half so much. This is my goal in using these games: that by playing them, Matthew will be much more familiar with what these words mean so that when he encounters them in his reading, he will be able to read more accurately.

Other things I liked about the program:

  • I love being able to customize my own lists.
  • The games helped Matthew to start learning the definitions. They were challenging unless he knew them!
  • There were a wide variety of types of games. They were not all the same.
  • The many learning videos gave us another option to reinforce and learn language arts skills.

What We Didn't Like:

  • Some of the words we were studying had multiple definitions. You can only do one definition at a time.
  • Sometimes the sound on a game was distracting. Matthew just turned the volume off and read the directions instead.
  • I had a hard time navigating around the site using the labels. They didn't always lead me to the information I wanted.

Overall Summary: On the whole, we enjoyed Vocabulary Spelling City. I have not had time to use it as a spelling program as we are in between spelling programs right now. This provided Matthew with an alternate way to interacting with and learning his vocabulary words. I have noticed that he was getting a little bored with our workbook routine, but I still wanted him to go through the series. This helped to mix things up a little and have a little fun learning. Even though it is school, it is also summer, so I was very glad to be able to give him something out of the norm yet still educational. Plus the fact that we could customize it to fit what we were already doing was a big plus.

There is a lot on this site that I was not able to try out with Matthew. At this time, they are doing some beta testing on some student writing activities. There are videos that teach subject/verb agreement, comma usage, and the four different types of sentences. I will still have a lot to check out! There were also articles on spelling, ESL, vocabulary study, and more. This is all included with the premium subscription.

Disclaimer: I was given a one-year premier subscription in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. If you'd like to read other reviews on this product, click the banner below!