Spelling Without the Fuss: Spelling Shed (and Math Shed) Review

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

 We have never done a formal spelling curriculum, and two of my children are naturally excellent spellers. However... Two others needed serious help. Since I would always rather make things easier for me, I looked forward to trying out Spelling Shed (and the companion Math Shed)! We were given a one-year subscription (with parent access and access for up to five students), and the kids jumped right in. They loved it!
I set up accounts for my 10-year-old (who is almost 11, and a naturally gifted speller), 9-year-old (who could use some extra help), and my two 7.5-year-olds (one of whom is an excellent speller, the other is average). I did not have to do ANY cajoling to get them to use this program - they asked every single day! It was a great way to make sure they were actually dressed and had done their chores by a reasonable hour every morning, since we had finished formal schooling for the summer and they kept asking when they would be able to do Spelling Shed!

We have two Kindle Fire tablets that we used for access to the website, and the touch screen capabilities worked well with very few glitches (I think generally the web programs we use aren't optimized for Kindle Fire, so every once in a while things would freeze up, but refreshing the screen always worked). The kids could make their own spelling lists, or they could use the lists the program already had incorporated within it. Difficulty levels are customizable, so they decided based on how they felt that day whether they'd like to go for:

Easy, which shows the word first before asking you to spell it, then only gives letters within the word as options
Medium, which does not show the word, but does give the meaning, as well as only the letters contained within the word to choose from
Hard, which speaks the word without a definition, and gives the letters in the word as options
or Extreme, which just speaks the word and gives all possible letters as options. (all of these are timed, so kids have to think on their feet!)

With all this extra practice, I noticed my struggling spellers were much more willing to write things on their own outside of their Spelling Shed time! They're far more confident in their spelling skills, and have really been enjoying their time using Spelling Shed. As the summer progresses, I will likely have them try Math Shed again, since they prefer Spelling Shed and haven't wanted to explore Math Shed very much. They've enjoyed making their own silly word lists, with words like "antidisestablishmentarianism" and other higher level words. So while the suggested word lists only go up to the fifth grade level, it's easy enough to customize with your own word list for a child who might need more of a challenge.

There are also Bonus Games kids can try out, and Premium members are able to create Hives and play games against one another.

Overall, we really have been enjoying Spelling Shed, and I anticipate Math Shed being a fun addition (ha!) in the future as well. Kids can get rewards for every activity they do, and they save them up for items to buy for their customizable avatars. I love how simple it is, but even my 9-year-old said, "Mom, I think it's really good that they have different things we can buy for our avatars, because it motivates us to do more every day!" Apparently all my reluctant speller needed was the prospect of buying hoop earrings for her avatar to get her motivated!

The teacher hub is available on mobile and desktop devices, but functionality is really not great if I try checking things from my phone - I have to scroll more and it cuts things off. You can see below how it looks on my phone vs. laptop. 

I played around on Math Shed as well, and it was a similar concept with customizable math review, but the timer aspect really stressed my girls out, and once they decided to focus on Spelling Shed, everybody wanted to focus on Spelling Shed! I think I'll use it for quizzing times tables and math facts in general so we don't lose any knowledge over the summer.

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