Spelling Workout vs. Spelling by Sound and Structure
We have used several levels of each program successfully. Since I’ve seen several questions about how they compare to one another on homeschool forums lately, I am comparing 2 of the levels that I have of each right now: Spelling Workout B and D, and Spelling by Sound and Structure (Rod and Staff) 2nd and 4th grades.
Here are the rules that SWO B covers over 36 lessons (perfect for a 36 week school year).
The lessons always begin with a short story to read. My kids really like these.
Several of the spelling words are located within the story, and a tip is given at the bottom of the page as to the rule being taught.
The next page lists the words (10 in levels A and B, 15 and 20 in higher levels). The tip or rule for the words is up above the list. This is lesson 1, so it’s pretty simple. Here’s a lesson further on.
You can see that by now the words are also presented in both print and cursive, and the lines for writing have transitioned from primary to single lines.
We actually skip this last page of each lesson. It teaches proofreading marks but also presents a paragraph containing several misspelled words for kids to correct. I prefer not to show my kids misspelled words at all if I can help it, since I don’t want to confuse them. So much of our spelling habits are picked up from reading, and having a visual memory of a misspelled word just isn’t going to do a new speller any favors.
After every 5 lessons there is a review.
Rod and Staff’s 2nd grade spelling teaches similar rules as Spelling Workout.
A big difference at this level is the lines. While SWO transitions to cursive and single lines, R&S keeps these primary guides throughout 2nd grade. R&S also includes 12 spelling words per lesson, slightly more than SWO’s 10 words.
A later lesson looks like this.
There is also a review after every 5 lessons.
And here are later levels, SWO D and R&S 4:
Now the words are presented in cursive only. Apparently my daughter chose to write them in print but now I do require cursive.
Since the lessons remain fairly consistent within each program, kids know what to expect and can complete the workbooks independently for the most part.
They are not vastly different programs. If your child needs more concentrated help with spelling or is still weak with phonics, All About Spelling might be a better (but much more expensive and more time consuming) option. Both Spelling Workout and Spelling by Sound and Structure use a simple workbook approach that should be fine for most beginning spellers.
What they have in common:
- Similar rules for each level
- Can be completed independently by student once the teacher has covered the rules
- Basically have 2 workbook pages to complete for a lesson
- Every five lessons are followed by a review lesson
- You don’t necessarily need the teacher’s manual for either, although they are nice to have for the test sentences
Where they are different:
- R&S consists of 34 lessons vs. SWO’s 36
- Spelling Workout is about twice the price, but it’s not that big of a deal since they are both so inexpensive
- The rule being taught is more obviously presented in Spelling Workout
- The workbook exercises in R&S require more writing out of the words, and I think they require the student to interact more with how they are spelled
- Rod & Staff uses phonetic symbols in later levels and requires the student to learn the use of those symbols
- Spelling Workout is secular whereas Rod & Staff will frequently have exercises or spelling words that relate to the Bible
- Spelling Workout includes proofreading exercises and teaches basic proofreading marks
- Spelling Workout also has exercises where a student has to find and circle misspelled words
- Rod & Staff Spelling has to be purchased from Milestone books, unless you want to call rainbow resource to add it to your order (it isn’t on their website), whereas Spelling Workout can be easily purchased from amazon, cbd, or many other sellers
My opinion, if you want to know:
I think each program has advantages that the other lacks. My children enjoy the interesting stories introducing the lessons in Spelling Workout, and I like how the tip is presented. I also like the first page of exercises in Spelling Workout, where they are basically putting each spelling word into the right category based on it’s rule. The last page of each lesson is just a waste for us, though, as we opt not to do the proofreading and writing exercises. I’m also not very impressed by the second workbook page of each lesson. They just don’t seem to require the student to think much about the word’s spelling.
I enjoy the Christian parts of Rod & Staff, especially that my daughter has learned to spell several books of the Bible. In my opinion, the exercises are more meaningful and require the student to think more about how the words are spelled. At later levels, I think R&S is slightly more challenging. But, I’m not necessarily a fan of the phonetic symbols, so I’ve let Eliana skip some of those parts.
Currently I have one student using Spelling Workout, about to finish level B, and one using R&S Spelling grade 5. I’m not entirely sure where we’ll go from here, since Memoria Press schedules and includes Spelling Workout with their packages (although they previously used Rod & Staff). In my heart of hearts, I think I like Rod & Staff better.
It’s great to have 2 pretty equally great options available, isn’t it?