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Schoolhouse Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)

We are always happy to review item from Institute for Excellence in Writing and this one is no different. IEW sent our family Phonetic Zoo Level A Starter Set.
Phonetic Zoo a Homeschoolng6 Review
Why the name Phonetic Zoo: Because our English language is as unpredictable as wild animals – crazy, illogical, and challenging and children absolutely love animals. The team at IEW found interesting animals to go with each phonetic sound, like epauletted bat and walrus for the ‘au’ sound.

What is included in this set? This set includes:

The 70 page Teacher Notes (or what I call teacher manual): This is an E-book. I printed mine and 3-hole punched to put in a binder.

I love that the first 5 pages give a the parent a brief review of basic neurophysiology, a brief history of Blended Sound-Sight Program, and of course how to use this course (Phonetic Zoo).

There is also a page for each lesson which gives an overview of the rule, includes the jingle, discussion points, and the list of words.

Set of Large Flashcard: These are a good size. You can use the flashcards with your child if working with a younger student and/or give the flashcard to your child to study on their own. It really depends if you plan teach or have the child work independently, pretty flexible. I plan to laminate mine.

Set of Small Zoo cards: These cards include the animal that illustrate the spelling rule. The card includes the jingle as well. You can do so many things with these cards. One idea is a lapbook. The Teacher Notes include a template to put together a lapbook. You can also hang them up where your student studies or put them in a binder.

Five Audio CDs: These are awesome because you don’t have to record yourself or someone else for your child to take his daily spelling test. I also love that throughout the spelling test the jingle rules are repeated. And it’s always more fun when Mr. Pudewa is giving the test.

There is also another person on the audio cd too and they alternate with giving the spelling words and jingle.

The audio CDs also spell out each word so the child can correct his spelling.

The purchaser of Phonetic Zoo will also receive instructions to download and access Mr. Pudewa’s talk, “Spelling and the Brain.”

It is highly recommended that you have your child wear headphones because there is less distractions or auditory interferences.

When to use Phonetic Zoo: The program is designed for ages 9+. You can have your child take a placement test to see if your child is ready for the Phonetic Zoo.
Phonetic Zoo
How it works and how we used it!:

Basically you go over the rule using the large flashcards, have your child say the rule our loud and have him spell the first 3 words on the front of the flashcard aloud.

Then give your child the small Zoo Card (I purchased an extra set so both boys had their own). The small Zoo Cards have the animals and their spelling on the front and the jingle on the back.

Once your child is set up with headphones, pencil, and paper they are ready for the audio CD lessons. Let the child know that they can pause the cd if needed.

When done have your child correct his test by listening to the next track on the cd. If the child misspelled the word then have them spell it correctly on the same line of the misspelled word. I have the boys cross out the misspelled word.

The child is to take the test every day until he receives 100% twice in a row. Every 5th lesson the child has their own spelling list which is called Personal Spelling. This is great because you are adding words from their writing that you notice being misspelled.

Once the child completed all the lessons there is a final exam. The final test has the child write words from each rule.
Phonetic Zoo Level A
Phonetic Zoo at our House:

I had two review helpers using this. 15 year old Caleb and 12 year old Ethan. As of the time of this review being published Caleb is on lesson 4 and Ethan lesson 2.

First I read over the lesson in the Teacher Notes, then I’d go over the lesson using the large flashcard. I gave each child a composition notebook and had them copy all the words and the jingle. So the first day they were allowed to study the words.

With the first lesson I went over the rules with both boys, gave them their flashcard, and we listened to the audio cd together. I would pause it if needed. I did this with them for the first week. After the first week Caleb used the program on his own.

With the purchase of the Starter Set you also receive all the audio lessons as a download. I downloaded them onto Caleb’s laptop so he just goes to his room and uses Phonetic Zoo independently. Every few days I take a peek at his progress and encourage him. I’ll write little notes in his composition book like, “You can do this!” or “Good job!”.

With Ethan I’m a bit more involved. We say the jingle together daily. He tends to get a little upset when he misses words. What I have Ethan do is one day take the test, the next day practice the words, so he’s taking the test every other day.
Phonetic Zoo Level A
Final thoughts: My kids like like receiving the zoo cards. Isn’t funny how it’s the little things that help.

The jingles are great! My kids love the jingles because they don't feel like they are memorizing a spelling rule.

I like that my kids can use the program independently (with me checking their progress). It’s different from a lot of programs. At first I thought my boys would become frustrated if they didn’t ‘pass’ the test the first couple of times or if they did pass but not twice in a row.  Thankfully they see it as a challenge and don’t become upset.
IEW Review
Crew Disclaimer

1 comment

  1. This does look great! I like the approach for visual and auditory learners.


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