Friday, March 26, 2010

Dr. Aardsma's Spelling Drill Curriculum Review

I made the mistake of buying this product before I fully researched what it was. After I was disappointed I researched it more and still could not find much information about it. This was about three years ago.

So before I try to resell the two products I don't want, I decided to blog about it.


Product: Dr. Aardsma's Spelling Drill grade 3-4 and Dr. Aardsma's Spelling Drill grade 5-6 (CD-ROM)

Full Retail Price: $19.95 (each)

From the user manual "Dr. Aardsma's Spelling Drill is conceptually simple. It gives old fashioned spelling tests designed for use in grades 1 through 6. The big difference is that a computer takes the place of the teacher presenting the test."

Each program has approximately 8000 words.

The program is on a CD-ROM and is installed onto your computer. When the child uses the program the computer speaks the word and uses it in a sentence. The child has to type in the word. The system tracks the time the child takes to enter the word and it sometimes prompts them "too slow hurry!". If the child misspells the word the system tells them they made a mistake and asks them to try again.

The system keeps a log of the child's scores and it retests them on the words they got wrong.

You can try a free demo of the program on the company's website: Dr. Aardsma's Drills.

These word lists are from multiple spelling list sources. A problem some people may have with the program is it is not one philosophy of spelling. For example if you feel your child should do spelling based on phonetic families, this program will not fulfill this need since this is a mish-mosh of different programs. The words presented have no relation to the other words being presented. Some words seemed to me to be way too easy and others seemed difficult (yet were presented in the same test) which was odd.

Another con is this is not a spelling program or curriculum. The homeschool parent would have to teach their child some type of study skill to do to practice the words that were wrong (I guess) in order for the child to learn the words. (Unless the parent just wants the child to sit at the computer and take test after test hoping that somehow they'll absorb the correct spelling of the words they don't know.)

Let me repeat all this program does is provide a human voice reading a word and a sentence and the student types in the word.

The system does re-test errors and it does keep a log of mistakes.

Another con is the prompts to "hurry up" can bother some kids, especially those who have not yet mastered touch typing. Also when the child is told to 'try again' yet is under a time constraint they have no choice but to kind of hurry up and take a guess at what the right spelling might be.

Once I had the program in hand and once both of my kids tried it and hated it I re-read the homeschool catalog's description of what this product was to see how I'd been duped. Everything they'd written about it was accurate so I could not be angry with the company! This was a case of me not knowing what was NOT said or perhaps me thinking this was something other than what it was.

In any event, this is the case of me buying a homeschool curriculum product that just wasn't a good fit for either of my children.

We have been using Spelling Power for the last five years and are happy with it. (I tried Dr. Aardsma's after having used Spelling Power, thinking maybe it was better for us, but as I said I was wrong.)

Disclosure: I purchased all these materials for our family's use. I was not paid to write this review. For my blog's full disclosure statement see the link at the top of my blog's sidebar.

1 comment:

wildflower said...

Dr. Aardsma's Drills-- I love them! There is an amazing new ONLINE version now and I highly recommend both the spelling and math drills. I am using them for my 4th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartner (who is doing the 1st grade drills.) I have seen HUGE improvements in their math and spelling abilities through using Dr. Aardsma's Drills. These drills are a lifesaver and they work.

I disagree with the blogger above on several points. The spelling drill is not a "mish-mosh of different programs." In fact, when you sign up for the spelling drill, you can choose what curriculum you would like it to follow, and I believe it gives 5 or 6 options to choose from.

Also, the "too slow, hurry" prompt does not just pop up for no reason. It is based upon the student's fastest time when spelling that word previously in the drill. The drill keeps track of the student's fastest time, and deducts slightly from the score if the student does not meet that time. This is very helpful. It helps avoid the problem of an un-motivated student who wants to sit at the computer and sing songs or stare at the ceiling when they should be taking the drill.

It is true that this is not a big exciting spelling GAME for the student. I don't want that. I want something that is down to business. The math drill is the same way. It is about learning, not entertaining. My kids have plenty of other entertainment in their lives! My kids don't mind the drills, and are excited to report their scores to me and how many words they have mastered. gives alot more info and explains the philosophy behind the drills very well.